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Monday, February 12, 2018

REVIEW: The Undertaker's Daughter by Sara Blaedel @sarablaedel @grandcentralpub #allthebookreviews

The Undertaker's Daughter
(Ilka #1)
by Sara Blaedel

Thanks so much to Grand Central Publishing for these copies in return for our honest reviews.

As a primarily thriller reader these days, I have been looking forward to reading some Sara Blaedel for quite some time.  I can't BELIEVE it's taken me this long!  

See what Jessica and I thought of this crime fiction.


Published:  February 6, 2018
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
326 Pages
Hardcover
Series:  Ilka #1
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

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 . .

My Review:

Ilka leaves her home country of Denmark and heads to Wisconsin, where the father she never really knew bequeathed her his funeral home. She's dumbfounded and overwhelmed as all this new responsibility is laid upon her.  While trying to make her way through learning more about her father, trying to run a business she stupidly takes control over by not reading paperwork she signs arbitrarily and dealing with dead bodies left and right, she could very well lose her sanity in the process.


I've heard SO much about Sara Blaedel and her ability to draw readers into her dark thrillers so I was beyond excited to receive a copy of the first in her new series.  She writes in a way that makes it easy for the reader to fly through the pages.  I think for this particular book I was expecting something darker and more thrillery.  What I got, however, was a small town mystery that seemed more a secondary story line to Ilka's character study and background.  Blaedel takes us on Ilka's journey with a kind of Murphy's law humorous appeal which was the highlight for me.  Although I never thought I'd be interested in the funeral business, it was quite interesting to read about the difference between US and Danish funerals and the processes laid within.  

Although the book didn't put the murder mystery as the front runner of the book and there was a lack of suspense, it was such an easy read that I flew through the pages.  Once I reconciled the fact that this was more about Ilka and setting up for the rest of the books in the series, I found myself enjoying her journey.  Now that the groundwork has been laid, I look forward to seeing how Ilka transverses her way through future "cases" and the legacy she has been bestowed.  The somewhat cliffhanger of an ending.... to be continued indeed.

★★★

Jessica's Review:


This was my introduction to Sara Blaedel and I was no disappointed! THE UNDERTAKER'S DAUGHTER is the start of a new series, and from what I've heard is a little slower paced than her other books. So if you're a Blaedel fan, then keep that in mind going into this one! 

Ilka Nicholas Jensen is a widowed school portrait photographer in her forties. She lives a quiet life in Copenhagen, but everything gets disrupted when she finds out her father passed away and left her his funeral home - in Racine, Wisconsin. She has not heard from her father since he unexpectedly left the family over three decades ago, but now she is determined to hold onto this last gesture from him. She decides to fly to Wisconsin to see the funeral home he left her.
Upon arriving to Wisconsin she wants to go through his belongings and the business before turning it over for a quick sale. However, while there, she stumbles upon an unsolved murder case and it appears that the killer is still alive. Has Ilka put herself in a situation that is over her head?

This mystery is definitely more focused on the characters with a slow build to them. I can see people going into this expecting a fast paced thriller being disappointed. I really liked Ilka, she was a very complex character and I found it compelling that she decided to leave instantly for a different country to learn more about her estranged father. I can't wait to see where Blaedel takes her in future books. I loved that it was set in Wisconsin - being in Minnesota it was fun seeing a somewhat familiar surrounding.
Overall, this was a very character driven and lighter suspense novel that I found incredibly engrossing. I can't believe it's taken me so long to finally read a book by Sara Blaedel, but it definitely won't be my last!
I give this one 4/5 stars!


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