Funeral director Drew Slocombe (Dark Undertakings, 2001, etc.), hard up for funds, bickering with his wife, and determined to make a go of his new venture—England’s only naturopathic burial grounds—is horrified to learn when his part-time gravedigger unearths the evidence that someone conducted an unauthorized interment on his property quite a while ago. Who was the elderly lady with the long white hair and no underwear? Genevieve Slater, who once lost out on a house bid to Drew, thinks it may be her globetrotting mum. But who buried Gwen so neatly with hands clasped and eyes sweetly closed? As Drew digs for the answer with the help of his forceful assistant Maggs, he becomes more and more enmeshed with the engaging Genevieve. The result: more arguments with his wife and a good deal of confusion over Genevieve’s relationships with her husband Willard and her long-dead sibling, as well as her mother’s stint as an Egyptian tour guide, which ended when a terrorist murdered one of her charges. And what to make of that pesky doctor who keeps popping ’round, that eyewitness who may be remembering wrong, and Drew’s final-rest competitor, who may be desecrating his gravesites with smelly dead animals? With minimal help from the police and a good bit of luck, Drew uncovers everyone’s secrets in time but keeps one of his own from his wife.
The only likable character is Drew’s baby daughter, and even she has her cranky moments. Solid plotting, but it would have helped to have someone above the age of three to root for.