Miles Keaton Andrew, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-27462-7

Apprentice mortician Casey Kight is reminded that "the first three letters in 'funeral' are f-u-n" in this wonderfully bizarre, irreverent and graphic look at the mortuary industry, complete with embalmings, cremations and corpses that snore. Twenty-one-year-old orphan Casey has always wanted to be a mortician. When he hires on as an apprentice at the Morton-Albright Funeral Home and Memorial Chapel in Angel Shores, Fla., he has a lot to learn. Ray ("Don't you just love that new-casket smell?") teaches embalming, Carl teaches the fine art of orifice packing, and the manager, Jerry, wants Casey to marry his quirky daughter, Natalie, so the family will have a male heir to take over the business. Casey quickly decides, to everyone's surprise, that he is going to like all aspects of the job. He likes embalming and other unpleasant procedures, and longs for the day when he is a licensed funeral director. Meanwhile, he deals with a pistol-waving mourner who drops dead in the viewing room, twin mortuary students Morey and Lester (aka More or Less) and a crackpot who goes nuts on a school stage with a box of sheep hearts and a baseball bat. Casey also has to help the owners of Morton-Albright fight a hostile takeover by a ruthless, cut-rate, nationwide funeral home conglomerate. When he and Natalie infiltrate the corporate giant to gather evidence, heads roll (literally). Despite the nonstop references to scatological and other bodily functions, Andrew's debut is a very funny tale of young love and mystery set amid draining tables and suction tubes. Agent, Loren G. Soeiro. (Mar.)

Forecast:The popularity of the HBO series Six Feet Under may have whetted readers' appetites for funeral home shenanigans; if so, this is the perfect novel to satisfy them.

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 287 pages - 978-0-312-31362-3
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