Review: Final Undertaking, the fourth mystery in this highly recommended series by Mark de Castrique, has funeral home owner Barry Clayton wearing a deputy's badge to investigate the senseless shooting death of a young woman during an evening summer festival in his home town. The sheriff, Tommy Lee Wadkins, wounded while trying to subdue the killer who dies in the process, provides guidance from his hospital room.
Barry quickly discovers the dead man's wife had recently died at their home in Florida of an overdose of a powerful prescription pain reliever. What isn't clear is why he was blaming someone attending a festival 600 miles away for his wife's death.
de Castrique writes in a clear and uncomplicated manner that keeps the plot focused and the reader interested. The plot itself is topical and (from a taxpayer perspective) all too believable though Barry, like almost anyone living in small town America, is slow to accept that a local resident could be involved.
In an effort to keep the series fresh, a new character is introduced in Final Undertaking, Fletcher Shaw, an intern assigned to Barry's funeral home, Clayton and Clayton. In addition to studying mortuary science, Fletcher has special skills in computer graphics and other forms of high technology that are useful in forensic analysis. Assuming that Fletcher will be a recurring character (and from the ending, this seems to be a fair assumption), he will be a winning addition to the existing cast in this series.
Finally, in keeping with Barry's profession, de Castrique handles a death in the community with grace and sensitivity. It's a special moment and it's very well done.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Final Undertaking for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), May 2003
ISBN-13: 9781590580554; ISBN-10: 1590580559
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), June 2008
ISBN-13: 9781590585177; ISBN-10: 1590585178
Location(s) referenced in Final Undertaking: North Carolina
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Final Undertaking by Mark de Castrique — A Barry Clayton Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: April 2007
List Price: $24.95