It's another typical day for mortuary cosmetologist Callie Parrish. Today's body is local car salesman Bobby Saxon who drowned in a pool. At least that's the official story until Callie discovers a hypodermic needle in his neck. Suddenly, the funeral plans are on hold for an autopsy.
But things get even weirder that night. Callie is just closing down the funeral home when someone hits her over the head. When she wakes up, Bobby's fancy casket is missing. Was the thief after Bobby's body? Or was there some over motive for stealing the casket?
This is a book of mixed reactions. I mostly liked Callie and her "kindergarten swearing." But her constant discussions about her new inflatable bras made me uncomfortable. I didn't much care for her morally challenged best friend, either. It's not that I expect perfection from the characters, but at least a sense of morals from the heroes really helps.
The plot was entertaining, and the narration mostly charming. I did find Callie's stretching out of excuse or believe me and please got old in a hurry. The plot had several twists. I pegged the killer early on, but kept being distracted and forgetting about him or her. The book was surprisingly light for a novel set in a funeral home, but it never once made light of anyone's grief.
In the end, this isn't a bad debut, but I didn't love it either. I'm sure others will love the characters more then I did, which was the major stumbling block for me.
Author Fran Rizer has created a delightful sleuth with Callie Parrish, a mortuary cosmetologist at Middleton's, an established South Carolina mortuary. Callie now works for Otis and Odell Middleton, both real characters, after a short stint teaching kindergarten and a brief and unpleasant marriage.
Callie is called to come in early to help make arrangements for the viewing and funeral of popular Bobby Saxon, a local car salesman, drinker, and womanizer. His most recent wife, brash and bouncy Betty, is coming in to make the arrangements. Bobby was the age of Callie's older brothers, in his mid 40s, but his most recent wife was a school friend of Callie's, fifteen years younger.
While applying makeup and styling Bobby's hair, Callie discovers a needle broken off in Bobby's neck. The idiot coroner decided he would accept drowning as cause of death because Bobby was found floating face down in a swimming pool and was known to be a heavy drinker. Now an autopsy must be done! Bobby's fancy, but empty, casket is stolen, and Callie is hit on the head outside the mortuary.
The dreamy emergency room doctor, Dr. Don Walters, has decided that Callie is dateable, and after she is released with few stitches, he manages to arrange a date. Jane, Callie's best friend, despite being blind, is her "Watson" in figuring out motives and trying to solve the crimes. Then local bar owner, June Bug Corley, is found shot in his parking lot. Callie becomes a target; she receives nasty threatening phone calls and someone tries to break into her house. Are the two deaths connected?
Will Callie figure out who is behind the deaths, before she is killed? Will her new dog Big Boy, a Great Dane puppy, ever let her finish a date with Dr. Don?
Armchair Interviews says: This is the first of three books, and they promise to be as much fun as this one.
Fran Rizer's A TISKET, A TASKET, A FANCY STOLEN CASKET tells of mortuary cosmetologist Callie, who likes to end her day with a Moon Pie and a mystery novel. When a body turns up to have evidence of murder on it, Callie realizes someone out there has a vested interest in burying the crime evidence at the mortuary - and her investigation changes her life.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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This was especially funny murder mystery to me, due to the fact of my having worked for a funeral parlor in my early twenties. I was in accounting but also had many funny and poignant tales to tell.
This book had me laughing out loud, reading passages out loud and just generally following each twist and turn as they came. I found I was not guessing the 'who done it,' as I was enjoying the ride in the Mustang too much.
The characters were amusing and well put together. I have lived near Beaufort, SC during my days in the USMC, and I had met persons that some of these characters reminded me of.
The murders were solid and well plotted. Believable and I liked the law enforcers too.
A hypodermic broken off in the body of a family friend plunges Callie Parrish into her first mystery in this new series. Mortuary cosmetologist Callie's discovery of the needle changes the death from accidental to homicide and converts many of the funeral home visitors from mourners to suspects.
Jane, Callie's self-sufficient visually handicapped best friend, "sees" more than many sighted people. Her worries that Callie is putting herself in danger come true.
Rizer provides readers with an excellent feel for the coastal South Carolina small town setting and its appealing and entertaining characters. The story line is strong and entertaining.
The only problem is that the second of the series doesn't come out until March, 2008, and the reader will want to read more about Callie before then!