HEARSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR
Hyperion, Feb 2001, 23.95, 318 pp.
The blizzard that hit Baltimore without warning made the wake at Sewell & Sons Family Funeral Home difficult enough for managers Hitchcock Sewell and his Aunt Billie. The corpse unceremoniously dumped on the outside steps of the funeral home becomes even more arduous to deal with because Hitch allows his girlfriend Bonnie Nash to persuade him to help her investigate. Bonnie insists that she is an investigative reporter hiding inside the guise of a TV weathergirl, which her peers loosely interpret as an amateur meteorologist who would have been better suited at rock singing.
Hitch and Bonnie begin to conduct inquiries, which as with their first case (see THE HEARSE YOU CAME IN) proves that in their minds the shortest distance between two clues is an arc. The duo draws wrong conclusions, fumbles clues, and makes error after error that should star them on a version of Bloopers. Other murders follow that expand an already widening circular investigation making it seem most unlikely that this amateur duet will ever solve the case.
The second Hitch-Nash amateur sleuth tale, HEARSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR, is an amusing novel due to the eccentric lead couple and his even more outlandish family members. The investigators seem to always land in weird, humorous situations that bring to life Baltimore's neighborhoods. Surprisingly, Tim Cockey provides an underlying theme involving dysfunctional relationships that keeps the novel from spinning into Pythonesque territory yet never overwhelms the drollery of a top notch tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner