A Grave Issue by Lillian Bell is the first book in the NEW “Funeral Parlor” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, coming February 13, 2018

After an on-air gaffe goes viral and jeopardizes her career, journalist Desiree Turner retreats home to Verbena, California for some peace and quiet. She begins working one of the quietest jobs around: presiding over funerals for her great-grandfather’s funeral parlor. But the action seems to follow her as a fistfight breaks out between neighbors Rosemarie Brewer and Lola Hansen at one of the first funerals she’s in charge of running. It exposes a nasty dispute and Rosemarie’s husband, Alan, is found murdered shortly after.

Lola’s husband, Kyle, is immediately arrested. Desiree, whose own father’s death was devastating, has always viewed Kyle as a second father. Determined to clear his name, Desiree jumps head first into the investigation and quickly discovers that Alan had several unsavory habits at his job and in his personal life, including putting assets into his mistress’s account to hide them from Rosemarie. People murder for money and love all the time, and there’s no telling who he offended just enough to push them over the edge.

Desiree is looking in all the right places, but she better catch the killer fast before they come for her next in A Grave Issue, the clever series debut by Lillian Bell.

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This fast-paced and action-packed drama immediately grabbed my attention and I could not put this book down until the last page was read. The comfortable tone and the pacing was on par with how well this multi-plot story was being told. The mystery was nicely done keeping me in tuned to all that was happening within the pages. The narrative was visually descriptive placing me in the middle of all the action as Desiree search for clues to clear her friend’s name. I enjoyed meeting the various characters who played pivotal roles in the telling of this tale from Desiree herself, to Jasmine, to Luke, to Lola, to Nate, to Rosemarie, to Monique, and to others who have crossed her path. The author did a great job in pulling this together with suspects, clues and I like how the unexpected became the expected when the killer’s identity was revealed. The secondary plot is very intriguing as I want to know the why and I can’t wait to see how that plays out. This was an enjoyable read, a great debut and welcome addition to the cozy genre. I look forward to the next book in this delightfully entertaining series.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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