SERIES: Murder and Magic, #2
REPRESENTATION: Black MC and cast, queer side characters
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Historical Fantasy Mystery
I really enjoyed THE CONDUCTORS (the first book in the Murder & Magic series) last year, so I was incredibly keen to get my fingers on this second book, THE UNDERTAKERS. While I enjoyed this instalment, and still think the series has bucket loads of potential, I didn’t think it was quite as strong as the first.
In this instalment, Hetty and Benji are trying to get their brand-new funeral home off the ground, while investigation a streak of arsons, when a dangerous face from the past reappears to menace them.
At least partly, I think that’s because, for me, the mystery aspect was one of the things that really hooked me in THE CONDUCTORS. THE UNDERTAKERS does have a mystery plotline, but I didn’t think it was as intriguing or as tightly plotted as the first one. Similarly, I really enjoyed the flashbacks in the first book, and that was a lesser aspect to this story. Obviously, both these things come down to personal taste.
The writing itself was just as strong as I was expecting, and Hetty and the gang are still fascinating and hugely likeable characters. Hetty and Benji are a wonder depiction of a couple that loves and totally supports each other without it being overly saccharine or overly tetchy. I love the two of them, both as individual characters and as a relationship to really root for. It’s great to see how they bounce off one another.
Nothing bothers Hetty and Benjy Rhodes more than a case where the answers, motives, and the murder itself feel a bit too neat. Raimond Duval, a victim of one of the many fires that have erupted recently in Philadelphia, is officially declared dead after the accident, but Hetty and Benjy’s investigation points to a powerful Fire Company known to let homes in the Black community burn to the ground. Before long, another death breathes new life into the Duval investigation: Raimond’s son, Valentine, is also found dead.
Finding themselves with the dubious honor of taking on Valentine Duval as their first major funeral, it becomes clear that his passing was intentional. Valentine and his father’s deaths are connected, and the recent fires plaguing the city might be more linked to recent community events than Hetty and Benji originally thought.
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.