Rizer's novel featuring mortuary cosmetologist Calamine “Callie” Parrish is a promising entry in Berkley's Prime Crime lineup. Callie is a likable protagonist whose profession makes it a tad more realistic for her to stumble onto murders than most amateur detectives. It's at least plausible that someone working with the bodies in a mortuary might find something suspicious, and indeed, Callie does.
While preparing Bobby Saxon's body for viewing, Callie notices a broken off needle stuck just below the skin in Bobby's neck. So off Bobby's body goes to Charleston for an autopsy. One would think the body being gone would stop the planned viewing, but Bobby's current wife, Bouncin' Betty wants the viewing to go on as scheduled but with an empty casket. That's just the beginning of odd things happening surrounding this case. The casket is stolen, the former coworker of Bobby insists on seeing his dead body, the first wife wants to not only say goodbye in private, but wants to place something in the coffin with Bobby, and the current wife seems overly concerned with providing the “best of everything,” including food, for Bobby's viewing and funeral while not seeming to be all that choked up about his demise. Soon there is another death, this time clearly a murder. Bar owner James “June Bug” Corley is found shot. Two murders in such a short time in the tiny town of St. Mary's is unheard of! What is going on?
The people in Rizer's book are truly characters in every sense of the word. Callie, the moon pie loving protagonist, is probably as at home with a hound dog and a rifle hunting with her brothers as she is on her shopping trips through Victoria's Secret. And she's a pretty good banjo player as well. The families of her clients show the funny side to the undertaking profession-and I'm afraid they may not be all that much of an exaggeration. Her best friend Jane is a gourmet cook who also runs a phone sex business from her home. I am disappointed though that Rizer has Jane, who is blind, use her disability to run scams on businesses. That is the only negative thing I have to say about the otherwise funny, likable characters populating St. Mary's, South Carolina.
A Tisket, a Tasket, A Fancy Stolen Casket is a great start to a fresh new series.
REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR
Thanks for visiting!