Barry Clayton is a man of many talents. He is the part-time deputy and the full-time undertaker of Gainesville, North Carolina. Living in a small town, he is familiar with all of the town’s residents. Not only are they his friends, but some are also his poker buddies. Over one weekly game, Barry learns of his friends’ plan to expand the local cemetery. The construction plans are put on hold, however, when Native American artifacts are found on the land.
Two factions of the town are pitted against each other: the pro-expansion group, led by Luther Cransford and the anti-expansioners led by activist Jimmy Panther. When Luther’s wife dies and Jimmy Panther leads a protest at her funeral, the battle begins to get ugly. When Jimmy Panther is then killed ON TOP of the Luther’s wife’s grave, the mystery into who would go so far as to resort to murder is launched.
Risky Undertaking, by Mark de Castrique, is a hard-boiled mystery with a wide cast of characters. Out of town detectives, locals, and even mob hit men make an appearance and add to the whodunit anticipation. At times, the cast of characters was hard to keep track of, but fortunately, most characters were fleshed out enough to keep them distinct.
What de Castrique does very well is to bring to light the particular difficulties between Native American culture and the interest in expansion. If you visit the area where the story is set, as I have, this conflict is apparent. I found the inclusion of this conflict compelling and very well explained.
If you are a true mystery fan, this whodonit might be perfect for you.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina