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The Hearse You Came in On (Hitchcock Sewell Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Hitchcock Sewell Mysteries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; Reprint edition (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786889624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786889624
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,492,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

To quote Lewis Carroll: "Calloo, callay, oh frabjous day!" No doubt Carroll, with his keen sense of the absurd, would find the publication of Tim Cockey's first novel positively frabjous indeed, an occasion for merriment and revelry.

Cockey is a kindred spirit to Janet Evanovich (Three to Get Deadly, Four to Score), an author with the rare gift of making riotously funny prose seem effortless, and to Elmore Leonard (Be Cool, Get Shorty), whose dialogue is casually and precisely evocative of the way "real people" speak. Heady company indeed for this new author, but The Hearse You Came in On deserves a special place in the screwball mystery pantheon: if you thought Evanovich was daring for creating a heroine who is a lingerie-salesperson-turned-bounty-hunter, you haven't met Hitchcock Sewell, the handsome undertaker who moonlights (reluctantly) as a sleuth.

Hitchcock is placidly enjoying life in Baltimore, "solemnly chaperoning the dead into their graves and pretty much otherwise minding my own business," when Carolyn James appears at the mortuary to inquire how much her own burial would cost. The next day, Carolyn reappears, but she isn't saying much now: suicide by asphyxiation has a way of eliminating small talk. The only problem is that Carolyn the Client is not the same woman as Carolyn the Cost-Conscious Consumer. When Hitch decides to pursue the shifting-identity issue, he meets Kate Zabriskie, a cop who wanted to protect Carolyn from a vicious boyfriend by faking her death; unfortunately, it seems Carolyn decided to play for real. Intent on proving that Carolyn's suicide was murder, Kate quickly embroils Hitch in a tangle of political blackmail and police corruption.

Bad enough that Hitch is caught in a murder investigation--but factor in his unwilling participation in a terrible amateur theater production, in which his costar is his "extremely gorgeous semi-nymphomaniac quasi-Buddhist and eternally charming ex-wife," and you have one cranky undertaker. Luckily for Hitch and for Cockey's readers, that crankiness is never enough to dim his razor-sharp powers of description and keen appreciation for his and others' quirks. Here he describes his former father-in-law, owner of the Screaming Oyster Saloon: "Frank is a tall crooked stick with an Adam's apple that rivals his nose, and a basset hound face that promises the end of life as we know it any minute now. Every mug he lands on the bar lands there with the heavy thud of finality. If you're in a good mood and you don't want to be, Frank's your man. He doesn't even have to speak, he'll simply open up that bleak vortex for you and down you go."

The Hearse You Came in On is a powerful debut; Cockey's next novel won't come a moment too soon for the readers who keep pausing to laugh out loud. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

A laid-back tone and lively Baltimore milieu combine with a plot overloaded with murder, blackmail, police corruption and political coverups in this debut mystery. Wisecracking Hitchcock Sewell, proprietor of Sewell & Sons Family Funeral Home, is intrigued when Carolyn James tries to arrange her own funeral, especially when a different Carolyn James turns up at the mortuary, a suicide. Hitch discovers that his attractive visitor was Det. Kate Zabriskie, working on a special case for Baltimore Police Commissioner Alan Stuart. Someone is blackmailing Stuart, who's running for Maryland governor, with videos of his wealthy, promiscuous wife in bed with tennis pro Guy Fellows, who's just been murdered and was Carolyn's boyfriend. Meanwhile, Kate is trying to recover from the death of her husband, an undercover cop she accidentally killed in a stakeout. The ease with which Stuart manipulates Kate, taking advantage of her grief and guilt, stretches credibility; so does her slowness to recognize his motives. Kate and Hitch soon become romantic partners as they pursue a trail leading to illegal toxic waste-dumping and murder-for-hire. Appealing characters abound--in Hitch's amateur theater group, his hangout the Screaming Oyster Saloon and the Maine seaport where Kate and Hitch track a crooked retired cop. Baltimore's neighborhoods as well as its class and political structures are ably depicted, though the pleasant ambience and chatty tone, which often slow the tempo, are at odds with the dark underlying themes of wanton corruption and vicious emotional exploitation. Even so, with this novel Cockey and Hitch, mortician extraordinaire, make a welcome entrance to the genre. Agent, Victoria Sanders. U.K. rights to Piatkus. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

You'll definitely feel like you know some of the people he describes.
johnglor94
A little meandering was ok in the beginning, but overall the story could have used some tightening.
Mark Baker
The dialogue was witty, characters interesting and plot sufficiently complex.
William Stacy Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Wylie on March 24, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's easy to summarize this series as featuring an undertaker sleuth, but this is a surprisingly upbeat and laugh-out-loud debut mystery.
Hitchcock ("Hitch") Sewell is not merely an undertaker, he's a 34-year-old, attractive, eligible undertaker in the Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore. Continuing the family funeral business with his aunt, Hitch has plenty of time to indulge in his hobbies: drinking at the local bar and acting in amateur theatre with his sexy ex-wife, Julia. But mortuary work does bring one into contact with the recently dead, and Hitch is just the sort of man to get involved when suspicious circumstances complicate one's exit from this earth.
What makes this book so fun and charming is Hitchcock himself. His wry observations will make you laugh out loud, and there are some lively characters populating his neighborhood to spice up the story. Hitch is an interesting man, refreshingly complex. He's interested in a beautiful woman without being sexist, and he doesn't shy away from a fight, although he's no swaggering bully. His on-going flirtation with his ex-wife is a bit of a cliché in this genre, but a forgivable one.
The only drawback is that Hitch is not a very active sleuth in this novel; he's more an observer of other people's sleuthing, managing to be in the right place at the right time fairly frequently. This doesn't diminish the fun in any way, but it does leave the avid mystery reader feeling a little empty. Like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, the plot is tangential to the real stars, the characters.
The next in this series is "Hearse of a Different Color."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Edler on May 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Meet Hitchcock Sewell, Hitch for short and the star of this totally enjoyable mystery who just happens to be Baltimore's "most eligible undertaker" or bereavement consultant if you're sort of squeamish or want to be politically correct.

"A murder mystery mortician," you might ask at this point, "Can you be serious?" Sure, why not, having a mortician as your lead character is the most unique setup for a screwball mystery series that I seen in a long time. And Hitch is a most totally likable character. (Darling and loveable to most of the female readers of this book, I'm told.)
As the story begins Hitch is minding his business and "chaperoning the dead into their graves" at Sewell and Sons (there are no sons by the way, just Hitch and his Aunt Billie) when a beautifully women walks into Parlor One dressed for a hot game of tennis. She says she's Carolyn James and she wants to make funereal arrangements for ... herself. But then she backs down and makes a hasty retreat.
For Hitch it is infatuation at first site, and he's sure he's going to have to track down the mysterious Ms. James until the next day when Aunt Billie tells him that a "new client" had just been delivered ... a suicide by the name of Carolyn James. Hitch rushes to look at the body and realizes that he's never seen the woman before.
This is just the start of many fun twists and turns that will keep you going throughout the entire book until the very last page. And if you just happen to have an interest in the theater as I do, you won't want to miss the outrageous subplot involving the Gypsy Player's production of Our Town with Hitch playing the part of the stage manager. It takes the idea of concept productions to the hilarious extreme.
This book was published two years ago, but I didn't catch up to it until last year. So I give it a belated ***** and recommend it to you all. The author has since added two more books to the series which are currently on my to read list.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rick Pantaleoni on March 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was really fun to read. I rarely find a book that combines a good plot with full characters, pacing AND humor.
I won't say anything about the plot, b'c that's too risky of spoiling your discovery, other than to say it works well. Re character, the protaganist feels real, and not excessively... excessive. Sorry for the lack of elequonce - I'm not an author - but the protaganist feels like someone I might know. I like that. It sacrifices the "exotic" potential, but in trade off buys more "familiarity", which I prefer. And no, I'm not from Baltimore (the setting). The pace is nice - it starts leisurely, and then builds. The author isn't in a race, and reading it doesn't feel like having had two too many espressos.
Best of all, "Hearse" gave me some very humerous / entertaining scenes, and applies wit throughout. For me, this is just as important as a good plot hook, or accomplished writing skills. Hitch, the protaganist, (or is it Tim Cockey, the author?) has an amusing and wry take on the world that's NOT cynical or "the jaded cop". Does this mean that there aren't any serious parts? No. But it means that the read itself is good, and not merely the stuff that happens between first page and last.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - I haven't had this much fun reading a book in a long time! Definitely a page-turner - I finished it within 2 days of purchasing it. Hitch's wry sense of humor and the numerous references to song lyrics added a lot. I would love to see this book made into a movie soon, and I look forward to reading the author's future books!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Hitch is a great character! No really....I laughed, I cried....well, I really didn't cry, but I was sad to know Tim Cockey doesn't have the second book ready to go! What a great story! --I will follow Hitchcock Sewell anywhere he wants to go! I just hope he takes his Aunt Billie and Alcatraz with him!
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