Hyperion, Feb 2003, 19.95, 324 pp.
When a former lover Libby Gellman asks, Baltimore undertaker Hitchcock Sewell agrees to look for a missing nanny, the innocent and sweet Sophie Pitts. Hitch quickly learns that Sophie took a swan dive off the Naval Academy Bridge in Annapolis. The local police department declared that a pregnant Sophie committed suicide, but the victim's mother claims otherwise.
Hitch decides to investigate starting with Sophie's final employer, Libby and her estranged husband, he abusive Michael. Looking for clues leads Hitch to The Alliance for Reason and Kindness where other dead don't line up for final resting at Sewell and Sons Family Funeral Home, but Hitch interferes into their lives anyway.
With all the deaths in MURDER IN THE HEARSE DEGREE, one would think the funeral business would be too busy for Hitch to spend most of his time investigating. The story line is amusing at times as Hitch tosses puns throughout the novel. The support cast, especially the preadolescent who, when she grows up plans to be a mortician, are fun to observe... This is a humorous series and the fourth tale has many funny moments for readers who like a lighthearted dark comedic romp.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner