cover image The Undertaker’s Daughter

The Undertaker’s Daughter

Sara Blaedel, trans. from the Danish by Mark Kline. Grand Central, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4111-9

When Ilka Nilsen Jensen, the heroine of Danish author Blaedel’s disappointing standalone, learns of the death of her father, Paul, who abandoned her and her mother when she was seven, she leaves her school photography business in Copenhagen to settle his affairs in Racine, Wis. In Racine, Ilka discovers that she has inherited Paul’s debt-plagued funeral home, and she decides to run it for the time being. Along with Artie Sorvino, the morgue assistant and artist who helps make the dead presentable, and Sister Eileen, a predictably taciturn nun with nebulous duties, the funeral home limps along, as does the weak plot. The appearance of the body of a local man who has been missing for years, long believed to have murdered his girlfriend when they were teenagers, breathes a little bit of life into the story. Unfortunately, Ilka is much less engaging than Blaedel’s complex series heroine, Louise Rick (The Lost Woman, etc.), and her relationship with her estranged father is the stuff of half-remembered memories. Hopefully, Blaedel will return to form next time. [em](Feb.) [/em]