Tim Cockey, Author . Hyperion $22.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6712-7

Those who enjoy lighthearted mysteries with screwball characters will relish Cockey's fourth outing to feature Baltimore undertaker Hitchcock Sewell. A former lover, Libby Gellman, who's left her abusive husband, Mike, asks Hitch to find Sophie Potts, her missing nanny. When Sophie turns up dead and pregnant, a supposed suicide, Hitch agrees to investigate. Hitch and his pal Pete Munger, a sometime PI, learn that Sophie was interested in ARK—the Alliance for Reason and Kindness—an amorphous religious organization. The case heats up when Hitch uncovers some puzzling connections: a friend of Sophie's, who'd accompanied her to visit ARK's shady director, Crawford Larue, is murdered; Larue's wife is having an affair with Mike; and Mike's uncle Owen, a high-powered attorney, is connected with ARK. Then Mike commits suicide. As usual, the writing is smooth and amusing: a man has muttonchop sideburns "thick enough you could hide toothpicks in them"; another has a moustache "the size of a small propeller." Fans will be glad to see such series regulars as Hitch's ex-wife, Julia; his mortuary partner, Aunt Billie; and 12-year-old mortician wannabe Darryl Sandusky. A passing parade of clients completes the offbeat cast. Author tour. (Feb. 12)

Forecast:Cockey's following should continue to grow, boosted by the popularity of the Baltimore-set TV show Homicide, as well by the novels of Laura Lippman.

Reviewed on: 01/20/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-1-4013-9733-3
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4013-9735-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 324 pages - 978-0-7868-8997-6
Hardcover - 443 pages - 978-1-58724-428-5
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 1 pages - 978-1-4013-9732-6
Ebook - 978-1-4013-9731-9
Open Ebook - 235 pages - 978-0-316-33034-3
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