An extraordinary cozy mystery set in Canada
- Book: Casket Cache
- Location: Niagara Falls
- Author: Janice J Richardson
Casket Cache is an extraordinary cozy mystery for as much the setting as the author’s style of writing. In addition to being a well-built mystery, the story offers an intimate glimpse into the life of a funeral director and the inner works of a funeral home.
The author is able to inspire a level of compassion and empathy I’ve never before encountered in fiction. After reading this book, I actually felt hopeful and reassured, despite the sometimes heavy topics discussed.
It is first and foremost a mystery. The story follows Jennifer, a young woman who has just moved to Niagara, Canada to start work as the funeral director of funeral home left to her by her recently deceased uncle. Before she can get settled in, there is a break-in. The responding police find a large sum of money in one of the caskets and the circumstances point to Jennifer’s involvement.
Jennifer, along with her new co-workers and a few old friends, has to figure out what’s really going on and who is truly involved before she’s arrested. Break-ins, physical threats, illegal drugs, the disappearance of a Casino pit boss and someone trying to run Jennifer off the road, make it clear that there’s more going on than the local police suspect.
The central mystery is resolved in a satisfactory way and the last few chapters set up the cast and story for the next installment of this (currently) three part series.
Throughout the novel, Jennifer’s work as a funeral director continues; she prearranges funerals for the terminally ill, picks up murder victims from crime scenes, prepares bodies for cremations, and meets with chaplains to help console those who have lost someone special to them. The author’s moving descriptions of the tragedies encountered daily on the job are filled with compassion, sensitivity and empathy. It is clear she has drawn deeply on her actual experiences as a funeral director, and this story is much better for it. She’s able to tap into a level of emotional depth not usually found in cozy mysteries.
Jennifer’s profession is why I initially hesitated reading this book. Only after reading a few fascinating interviews with the author, did I decide to take a chance on it. Though death is a topic most of us try to avoid, it is an inevitable part of life. Like most forty-year-olds, I’ve buried too many loved ones. It is reassuring to know there are people like Jennifer out there, who truly sympathize with someone’s loss.
The Niagara region of Canada is also well described.
I highly recommend this to fans of mysteries, amateur sleuths, and cozies. It is something different and definitely worth the read. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.