Book Review | The Undertaker's Daughter by Sara Blaedel


The Undertaker's Daughter

By Sara Blaedel

Grand Central Publishing

Publishing Date February 6, 2018

336 Pages

Synopsis From Publisher:

Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen. Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: Her father--who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on the family more than three decades ago--has died. And he's left her something in his will: his funeral home. In Racine, Wisconsin.

Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn't heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin. Desperate for a connection to the parent she never really knew, she plans to visit the funeral home and go through her father's things--hoping for some insight into his new life in America--before preparing the business for a quick sale.

But when she stumbles on an unsolved murder, and a killer who seems to still be very much alive, the undertaker's daughter realizes she might be in over her head . . . 

Torn and conflicted is the best way to describe my feelings about The Undertaker’s Daughter. I am a big fan of Sara Blaedel’s Louise Rick series; so I was very excited when I found out Blaedel was starting a new series. Unfortunately, there were a few issues with this book that prevented me from loving it as much as I hoped I would. 

I am conflicted over this book because I was disappointed with Ilka. I thought I would be reading a amateur detective story. I assumed Ilka was going to solve the mystery and help bring the criminal to justice. However, the mystery is more of an event that is happening around Ilka. While she is curious about the crime and does ask questions if the opportunity arrives, she is not trying to solve the crime. It’s as if the crime is a background story to Ilka’s ongoing issues with the funeral home. 

Another issue I had with this book was the lack of character development. Information about the characters, Ilka included, was scattered throughout the book but details were not given. I did not get to know any of the characters which made it hard to become invested in them and want to continue reading. After reading the book, I still have so many questions about most of the characters, many of their actions and thoughts were left unexplained. I understand that this book is a part of a series, so maybe I will get answers to these questions as more books are published.

I did enjoy seeing the U.S. from Ilka’s perspective. This is her first visit to America. She had strong opinions on the American healthcare system as well as how Americans deal with death. She often compares America to Denmark, I found these comparisons comical and interesting. 

 I rarely read the author’s acknowledgments but I felt I had to. The concept of this book is so original I was hoping to find out what inspired Blaedel to base a new series on an Undertaker. In her acknowledgments, she shares the story behind this series. While the story is heartbreaking, I am glad I took the time to read it. When reading this book, I suggest you start with the acknowledgments, I think it will prepare you for the type of story you will be reading. 

Overall, I found The Undertakers Daughter interesting but not very entertaining or compelling. It is obvious extensive research was conducted into the funeral industry but the lack of character development left me feeling indifferent to the characters. I will concede, I may have started reading this book with unfair expectations, comparing this book with Blaedel’s previous books. Despite this book falling a little flat for me, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Will Ilka become the amateur detective I was hoping she would be? We must wait and see.

**Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for my review copy**

Murder and Moore Rating:

3 1/2 out of 5 Stars