THE UNDERTAKER'S GONE BANANAS by Paul Zindel

THE UNDERTAKER'S GONE BANANAS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Though this takes place in an upper-income Fort Lee (New Jersey) highrise, where the view through the picture window is distinctly bizarre, it is not another blowup of the contemporary scene like Pardon Me You're Stepping on My Eyeball and Confessions of a Teenage Baboon. Less pretentiously, 15-year-old Bobby's hours of frenzy center on his witnessing a murder in the next apartment. Hearing noises, Bobby cranes his neck around the joint balcony wall to catch evil-eyed undertaker Mr. Hulka polishing off his wife. Trouble is, as Bobby is generally known as a prankster, the police refuse to believe him--especially after Mrs. Hulka turns up alive. Worse, Bobby overhears an almost exact reenactment of the whole scene a little later. This time he's sure Mr. Hulka has killed his wife. but who'll believe him now? Not even good friend Lauri in 3-A, though she sticks by him all the way. . . from the incinerator room (Hulka has tricked them by sneaking out real garbage, not the corpse) to the funeral parlor, where they watch from a padded coffin as he weights a suitcase with metal money-card ""hands."" As in Pardon Me. . . , the two teenagers end up more or less curing each other's preexisting hangups, but the psychology here is no heavier than the suitcase, which Hulka finally tosses into the Hudson. Later, back at the apartment, there is a severed head (Mrs. H.'s) in the TV console. . . and a terrifying climax when Hulka catches the kids snooping. There are indeed two corpses. . . will he make it four? A real killer.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1978
ISBN: 1935169335
Publisher: Harper & Row