Secret Undertaking: A Buryin’ Barry Mystery

Mark de Castrique. Poisoned Pen, $26.95 (274p) ISBN 978-1-4642-1037-2

Early in de Castrique’s fine seventh Buryin’ Barry mystery (after 2014’s Risky Undertaking), Barry Clayton, the director of the Clayton Funeral Home and part-time deputy sheriff in Gainesboro, N.C., meets with Janet Sinclair, who wants his help securing the future burial of herself and her husband, Robert, in the same plot as Robert’s parents in a New Jersey cemetery. Janet doesn’t make it clear why she wants to avoid dealing with a local funeral home. In looking into the Sinclairs’ unusual situation, Barry gets on a trail that leads to suspicious deaths, a scheme to defraud the U.S. government, and an attempt on the life of North Carolina’s commissioner of agriculture. The book is peopled with believable villains, in particular the fraudsters and liars, but it also features folks who show kindness, consideration, and a true respect for friendship. The story’s resolution is satisfying on many levels. De Castrique draws the reader into his protagonist’s world with consummate grace. [em](Sept.) [/em]