The third installment of Ferrendelli’s mystery series (Revenge is Sweet, 2013, etc.) centers on a mortuary where the bodies aren’t exactly treated with respect.
For an unassuming Denver suburb, Grandview has seen its share of problems. Not long ago, there was an illegal drug ring operating from—of all places—the Grandview Police Department. Samantha Church, the Grandview Perspective newspaper reporter who exposed the operation, then became the victim of a revenge kidnapping that also threatened the lives of her boss, Wilson Cole Jr., and her daughter, April. Now, the local Hilltop Gardens Mortuary is secretly dismembering the recently deceased and selling body parts to the highest bidders. When the demand for parts gets too high, some Hilltop workers find deadly ways to restock their supply. Sam gets a tip about this suspicious activity from Abby Love, a bright pre-med student who drives dead bodies from hospitals and nursing homes to the appropriate places. Together, the two find out that things are far worse at Hilltop than they ever imagined. When Sam loses contact with Abby and goes to look for her, she finds out just how far the people at Hilltop are willing to go to keep things quiet. All the while, Sam must also deal with her unsteady dating life and continue her fight against alcoholism as she attempts to regain custody of her daughter. Ferrendelli’s skill at developing layered, flawed characters is once again evident here. Sam, in particular, is a likably imperfect protagonist. The author also proves that she has a keen eye for thoughtful details; for example, Wilson has a prosthetic hand to replace one he recently lost, and when he puts his hands on his hips, he has “the strange sensation of being able to feel the fabric of his pants with his right hand, but not with his left.” There are a few distracting errors, such as when Sam thinks about “this terrible addition to alcohol,” but most readers will gloss over them due to the story’s fine characters and suspense.
A tense, engaging series mystery.