News travels fast at the Sewell & Sons Family Funeral Home. In the middle of a service, Hitchcock Sewell learns that his old flame is back in town, minus one husband. Faster than you can say "closed casket" he locates and meets with Libby Gellman. The news of her separation is shadowed by the mysterious disappearance of her nanny Sophie.
Hitch suspects Libby's husband Mike might be tied to Sophie's absence. Before he can collect any facts for his old flame, Sophie washes up on the riverbank. The police assume she jumped off the bridge, but the facts don't add up. Feelings for Libby, dislike for Mike and a promise to Sophie's mother drive Hitch right into the middle of the investigation. What he finds leads to Murder in the Hearse Degree.
This is the fourth installment in Tim Cockey's series featuring Baltimore's most eligible mortician. Earlier tales involve a body left on the funeral parlor's doorstep and a woman who wants to arrange her own funeral. The plot for this tale isn't as offbeat as those featured in past adventures. The story picks up after Hitch narrowly dodges a hood ornament and the investigation leads to a crooked politician and his shady religious organization.
Depressing drinking buddy Pete Munger, first introduced in The Hearse Case Scenario, returns with all his unresolved emotional baggage. Hitch's amusing ex-wife and his new love interest play small roles as well.
I dearly love this series, but the cast is just going through the motions this time out. The mystery was solved, but it appeared to be phoned in for the fourth installment. Murder in the Hearse Degree isn't my favorite book in the series, but I have faith in the author and anxiously await another tale.