It is a bone-chilling night, even by Baltimore's terms. The ice and snow have kept most folks off the streets, However, Hitchcock Sewell is hard at work. Neither rain, nor sleet or snow prevent the dearly departed from checking into Sewell and Sons Family Funeral Home. Currently, a wake is being conducted in Parlor One.
The evening becomes more chilling when the body of a young waitress is dumped at the front door. Naturally, the wake is a bust. Even the usually cool Hitchcock Sewell is at a loss for proper reaction to the situation.
His significant other, popular weather girl Bonnie Nash, is intrigued. She's been trying to get her hooks into real news assignments at the anchor desk. She thinks the answer to her prayers, and a new job, has been left on the steps of the funeral home.
The dead woman's name is Helen. Before long, Hitchcock develops a sympathetic affection for the family she left behind-a three year-old son and her estranged sister, Vicki.
Between Hitch's feelings and Bonnie's intentions, the couple set out to find who killed Helen. This case is not cut and dry. In fact, there's more to the murder of this lounge waitress than meets the eye. If he isn't careful, the marvelous mortician may himself be a candidate for the Pearly Gates.
Hearse of a Different Color is the second installment in Tim Cockey's entertaining series featuring Hitchcock Sewell. Our favorite funeral director is still the same wise-cracking anti-detective we saw in The Hearse You Came In On.
It is difficult not to compare the first book to the second. Hitchcock is still in the funeral business with his aunt. He still has a love interest, though the name and face have changed. Cockey digs a little deeper in this novel, though. Some of the characters are seedier, and Hitchcock finds himself in questionable settings.
The mystery itself is quite interesting. At first glance, the dead waitress appears to have been just another murder statistic. However, we soon of the complexity of her life. Cockey provides a slew of suspects and possible motives for readers to ponder.
Unfortunately, some of the quirks that worked in The Hearse You Came In On aren't here. Ex-wife Julia, Aunt Billie and detective Kruk have leaner roles in this edition. The hilarious rendition of "Our Town" provided comic relief the first round. Hearse of a Different Color sticks close to the investigation.
My biggest complaint is merely the size of a minor irritation. Bonnie Nash, Sewell's little network tail, disappears in the latter half of the story. Once Hitch's gets his answers, he's off. The story wraps up nicely, but Bonnie is nowhere to be seen. This is just an observation, though, not a criticism. She wasn't the most exciting character anyway.
Many authors who write series offer a little background information at the beginning of each installment. Cockey opted not to do this in Hearse of a Different Color. Though the books can be read out of order, I recommend readers start with The Hearse You Came In On. Learn about Hitchcock Sewell's past and you'll appreciate him in the present.
Hearse of a Different Color is a fun, highly suspenseful novel. Hitchcock Sewell is so smart and witty, I find him irresistible.
Tim Cockey is a self-described "writer of wrongs." Whatever his formula is, it's obviously very right. According to the author's web site, Hyperion Books is prepared to publish a slew of books based on Hitchcock Sewell. Marvelous.
Hearse of a Different Color isn't as perfect as its older sibling, but it is an excellent second novel. Cockey's talent is a welcome sight for weary mystery lovers. The adventures of Hitchcock Sewell are a must-read for any bookworm. Enjoy!