A Dirty Death), set in the village of Bradbourne, is like sitting in a room ful"/>

DARK UNDERTAKINGS

Rebecca Tope, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-26570-0

Reading British author Tope's second novel (after her strong debut, 2000's A Dirty Death), set in the village of Bradbourne, is like sitting in a room full of people you hardly know listening to them talk endlessly about people you don't know at all. Jim Lapsford was the picture of health when he died of a massive coronary. Or was he poisoned, as trainee mortician Drew Slocombe suspects? The family doctor has diagnosed the coronary, and Slocombe is in no position to voice his opinion. In a week Lapsford will be cremated, the evidence destroyed. Obsessed with guilt over the loss of a sick child under his care while he was a nurse in a pediatric ward (a loss he was judged innocent of but for which he feels responsible just the same), he cannot "forget" his suspicion. But how to prove it without an autopsy? Lapsford was apparently a good husband and father, well liked by everyone. But in fact he was an incorrigible womanizer, hated by many—including his younger son. Seeking clues, Slocombe learns why one of Lapford's mistresses describes Bradbourne as "the town without a soul." Slocombe is an inept detective for whom guesses and assumptions pass for facts. His obsessive psychology is as tedious as everyone else's. It all reminds one of a comment by a Seinfeld character who didn't like the movie The English Patient —"Why doesn't he just finish his stupid story about the desert and die already!" Nonetheless, cozy fans who enjoyed A Dirty Death won't be disappointed. (June 11)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-0-7505-1624-2
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-0-7490-4023-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 510 pages - 978-0-7490-4018-5
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