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Book Review: The Undertaker by William F. Brown

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Using the names of others long dead to hide insidious crimes seems like an odd way to do business. The obituary Peter Talbot sees of his own and his wife’s death in a Columbus, Ohio newspaper is unbelievable. Not only is he not dead, but his loving wife actually did precede him in death, not in an auto accident as listed, but of cancer. Much of the information was correct but neither he nor his wife had ever been in Ohio. What is happening?

In The Undertaker by William F. Brown, we meet a remarkable man in Peter Talbot. His is a UCLA graduate, was a lieutenant in the army and currently an aeronautical engineer with Symbiotic Software systems. Finding a strange man in his car, asking who he is and why he has the name of the dead man in the paper, makes him understandably upset. The 45-caliber weapon in his face does not persuade him anymore then the obituary, yet when the man who introduces himself as Gino Perini exits his vehicle with a warning to leave it alone, he is anything but thrilled.

To him it is a smirch on his wife’s name and he will not allow anyone to make a mockery of her memory. The obituary seems to belittle her life and he decides he will find out what is happening and have it retracted. As Peter begins his research, he finds a pattern of deaths set up much like that of his own.

Each obituary lists the same mortuary, the same attorney, and each of those who perished had no next of kin. The individuals involved are well respected and highly placed, with backgrounds above reproach and in some cases part of the government. Part of the plot involves the mob, and as Peter comes forward with his objections and information, he is suddenly in the spotlight. Unaware of what he has begun, he is now on the run for his life. In researching one of the other alleged fatalities, he finds an old automobile, but one that holds a secret cache, one that others are willing to kill for. Those secrets as well as his smart mouth are about to get him killed. Can he trade those secrets for his safety?

While looking for answers he meets Sandy, one of the murdered victim’s ex-wife. Initially she turns him in to those looking for him, not realizing they are not who they say they are. However, once they know who she is, she must now work together with Peter on a solution to get the secret to safety. They are both in peril. This group, known as Zero Defects, will allow no one to stop them — and it’s all in the name of national security.

Ralph Tinkerton is the brains behind this bizarre murder ritual, and he will stop at nothing to plug the leaks. When Peter finds his friends dead, he decides he will do what it takes to get justice. Can he turn the tables on this group of killers before he or anyone else is killed? This secret is a high stakes game of cat and mouse, and the chases just keeps going on. Who will they turn to for help?

Peter is an angry man trying to get through life after the death of his wife. He holds her memory dear and feels that whoever took their identity to hide a murder, has besmirched her name, which he finds unforgivable. She had been the best part of him and he would not rest until he finds out what is happening. He is smart (rocket scientist) and takes good care of himself. He has also been very lucky and able to get out of several life threatening situations. However the goons following him will not give up, and he continues to try to find a solution.

Gino Perini comes and goes throughout the story. He is muscle for the mob, and the man who first got Peter involved in this charade. He is there in the wings just waiting for the right time to make his mark.

Sandy is a spitfire, with many surprises up her sleeve. After initially creating a problem for Peter by contacting the bad guys, she is now helping him try to control the damage. She is no longer safe, and she knows too much. However, she has moves and tricks you cannot imagine. She is amazing and full of sparks that keep you entertained.

Brown does an amazing job of creating characters who are real. The humor is incredible, and the murders most foul. The characters have flaws that make them very relatable, and the story itself is quite wicked and very believable.

I would recommend this book for those who love a thriller, with action and suspense. If you enjoy humor and smart thinking you will enjoy the repartee, it is lightning fast and exciting. This would be a great book for a book club; it is full of discussion items. While the humor keeps it a bit light, make no mistake, these killers are formidable and without merit. The coldness of their methods will give you chills long into the evening.

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About Leslie Wright

Leslie Wright is an author and blogger in the Northwest.