When running a funeral home, one must assume trouble will come knocking at the door sooner or later. In the case of Hitchcock Sewell, trouble rang the phone.
Shrimp Martin, local nightclub owner, calls to say he's been shot by Lucy Taylor. Hitch can't believe his childhood friend would do such a thing.
Quick thinking by the captain of cremation secures timely medical attention for Shrimp. The doctor says he'll live (minus one kidney) to see another lounge act. Hitch leaves to search for Lucy.
Imagine everyone's surprise when Shrimp is murdered in his hospital room. He survived a gunshot wound in the stomach only to be stabbed in the heart. Naturally, Lucy is suspect numero uno. After all, she shot him in the first place. Why not finish the job?
Business is slow at the Sewell and Sons Family Funeral Home, giving Hitchcock plenty of time to stick his nose where it doesn't belong. He is determined to find the real killer of Shrimp Martin. If he's not careful, he will become his own next customer. His dangerous search for the truth is detailed in The Hearse Case Scenario.
This third installment of the popular Tim Cockey series has our favorite funeral director snooping for answers among the night life of Baltimore's mid-level celebrities. Characters (and suspects) in this tale include a lounge duo, a perpetually-sauced artist fresh out of the big house, Shrimp's own shady business partner, a petite waitress and an unknown assailant affectionately referred to as "Toaster Hands".
The Hearse Case Scenario keeps Hitch out of the mortuary throughout most of the book. True to character, the wise-cracking anti-detective conducts many of his inquiries in Baltimore's best watering holes. Add a trendy restaurant, one drunk tank and an NBA-playoff game and you have an intriguing investigation.
Characters who were absent in Hearse of a Different Color are back with bells on. Look for the ever-agitated Detective Kruk and motherly Aunt Billie to make bigger appearances. Hitch's very sexy, very funny wife plays a much larger role in Lucy's saga as well.
This third installment is more somber than the previous two. This could be due to the introduction of Pete Munger, a private detective weighted by a mid-life crisis. Munger plays a big part in this case and his cynicism rubs off on the tale. On top of that, Hitch is the recipient of several knuckle sandwiches, forcing readers to deal with a defeated hero. You can't win 'em all, I guess.
Those with a stickler for order should read The Hearse You Came In On and Hearse of a Different Color before delving into The Hearse Case Scenario. Cockey alludes to Hitchcock's tragic childhood in this novel, but doesn't completely spill the beans as he did in his first book. The Hearse You Came in On also paints a clear picture of the marvelous mortician so readers can appreciate him fully in later installments.
Those with a particular mystery preference (hard-boiled, cozy Murder-She-Wrote-style or something else) may not be amused by Hitch's escapades. The undertaker's irresistible wit connects best with easy-going readers who simply appreciate engaging stories.
Though Tim Cockey is described as a "writer of wrongs", his work is right on target. The author's appreciation of the absurd provides entertaining material for Baltimore's most eligible mortician.