Shaye Areheart (Crown), Aug 2008, $24.00
In Brockton, Massachusetts Clara Marsh works as an undertaker at the Bartholomew Funeral Home where she does better with the dead than the living although she is sympathetic to the grieving. She has no one except perhaps her kindhearted boss, Victor Bartholomew. When Clara finds Trecie in the funeral parlor playing there alone, she becomes concerned for the child. She asks Trecie if she prefers to go to the nearby playground, but Trecie answers no as there is nobody yelling here unlike home and she likes the flowers and candles.
Clara does nothing as Trecie is causing no harm. However, Clara becomes hysterical during a corpse pickup when she finds a child pornography video with the preadolescent Trecie as a star. Detective Mike Sullivan investigates only to tie the ring back to the murdered, unidentified and unclaimed body of Precious Doe, who Clara helped bury and still feels haunted by the child; visiting the gravesite regularly. Fearing that Trecie may be in danger; a normally compliant Clara and compassionate Mike investigate with neither aware that the resolution leads back to her childhood.
This entertaining mystery stars a fascinating extremely meek heroine. The story line is character driven by predominantly Clara with strong support from Trecie and Mike. That focus on Clara provides an intriguing look at being an undertaker, a job that requires a person to remain detracted yet sympathetic.