by Molly Harper
Series: Southern Eclectic #2
Also in this series: Peachy Flippin' Keen
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
An Atlanta ex-cop comes to sleepy Lake Sackett, Georgia, seeking peace and quiet—but he hasn’t bargained on falling for Frankie, the cutest coroner he’s ever met.
Frankie McCready talks to dead people. Not like a ghost whisperer or anything—but it seems rude to embalm them and not at least say hello.
Fortunately, at the McCready Family Funeral Home & Bait Shop, Frankie’s eccentricities fit right in. Lake Sackett’s embalmer and county coroner, Frankie’s goth styling and passion for nerd culture mean she’s not your typical Southern girl, but the McCreadys are hardly your typical Southern family. Led by Great-Aunt Tootie, the gambling, boozing, dog-collecting matriarch of the family, everyone looks out for one another—which usually means getting up in everyone else’s business.
Maybe that’s why Frankie is so fascinated by new sheriff Eric Linden...a recent transplant from Atlanta, he sees a homicide in every hunting accident or boat crash, which seems a little paranoid for this sleepy tourist town. What’s he so worried about? And what kind of cop can get a job with the Atlanta PD but can’t stand to look at a dead body?
Frankie has other questions that need answering first—namely, who’s behind the recent break-in attempts at the funeral home, and how can she stop them? This one really does seem like a job for the sheriff—and as Frankie and Eric do their best Scooby-Doo impressions to catch their man, they get closer to spilling some secrets they thought were buried forever.
I’ve read the other Southern Eclectic novels, and found them ridiculously hilarious. They’re funny, sweet, and light, a bit like biting into one of those eponymous Georgia peaches, but there’s also a good dose of snark to add to that southern charm. While I think you could pick this up as a standalone, the amount of secondary characters (including Frankie’s enormous family) may be overwhelming if this is your first visit to Lake Sackett and the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. Frankie, the mortician at her family’s funeral home, was one of my favorite side characters from the other books, so I was excited she was getting her own book.
Eric’s the new sheriff, though not a stranger to Frankie – they had a one-night-stand on her last visit to Atlanta. Why, exactly, he’s gone from being a big city cop to rural Lake Sackett’s sheriff and chief pain in her butt (she’s also the county coroner, and he seems to see foul play everywhere) is a mystery, but Frankie eventually realizes she needs his help to deal with a series of escalating pranks. She’s certain she knows who the perpetrator is, and that his end goal is to break into the funeral home on Halloween – something unthinkable to Frankie, who greets each of the earthly remains trusted to her care by name every morning and has conversations with them. Frankie is a childhood cancer survivor, and her parents, well, still haven’t quite adjusted to the fact that she’s an adult now. Part of it may be that she had a funky sense of style (dyed hair and nerdy T-shirts), part of it may be that she does still act younger than her age, like engaging in arguments with a snotty teenager. She’s in her late twenties, and looking around at her happily paired-off cousins, she’s starting to yearn to move out of her parents’ house and get a bit more autonomy, though she’s afraid of hurting them. Some of her behavior was seriously juvenile, but as the book went on and she gets a little more honest with herself and others as to why she still sometimes acts like a spoiled brat, I found her a lot less annoying.
“You like this boy. And that means something. You don’t let yourself get involved. You are, as Duffy would say, a ‘hit it and quit it’ girl.”
“Never let those words leave your mouth again,” Frankie told her.
While I liked the romance, it did feel like it wasn’t as prominent in this book – it seems to lean heavier on the women’s fiction scale than the previous book. So while I liked the development of Frankie and Eric’s relationship, I was more ambivalent about the plot revolving around the pranks. It just felt weird that she’s a woman in her late twenties and her big nemesis is a jerky teen boy. I did find the resolution of that plot line pretty hilarious, though, so I guess I can’t complain too much. I especially love the small town feel of these books, and how something as simple as a Trunk-or-Treat turns into a giant to-do complete with months of planning meetings where people with competing opinions nearly come to blows. I also liked that we got to see a bit more of the couple from the first book’s story as it played out alongside Frankie’s.
Overall, I’d give this 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. It’s an enjoyable light read, perfect for relaxing lakeside with a glass of sweet tea!