Hitchcock Sewell, Baltimore’s crime-busting mortician, undertakes to solve a homicide before the cops know it’s happened.
Sisco Fontaine was never the yearbook staff’s choice as most likely to succeed. Now Sisco has a body on his hands. The stiff is Jake Weisheit, owner of the kitchen floor on which he now reposes, dagger protruding from his back. Also present in Mr. Weisheit’s plush suburban home is Polly Weisheit, his relict. In a manner of speaking she belongs to Sisco as well, though lovers have shakier legal standing. All Sisco wants from his old schoolmate Hitch is some help disposing of the corpse. He insists that he’s innocent, but he’s not eager to dial 911 only a few days after publicly threatening to kill the late Mr. Weisheit. Wisely, Hitch turns thumbs down on Sisco’s request, but he can never resist an intriguing homicide. Between prepping corpses and beguiling a nonstop array of local females, he proves once again that when it comes to sleuthing, a ratiocinative funeral director can do more than sniff the formaldehyde.
Up till now, Hitch’s ebullience has carried the series (Murder in the Hearse Degree, 2003, etc.). But when the energy it feeds on flags in this fifth outing, disbelief sets in.