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The Undertaker's Daughter by Sara Blaedel

The Undertaker's Daughter

by Sara Blaedel

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Showing 4 of 4
Ok, good beginning of a new series. This is an author I was not familiar with but I will definitely be looking for book 2.
Ilke, comes from Denmark to Racine, Wisconsin to claim the funeral home that has been left to her in her father’s will. This same father had left Ilke and her mother in Denmark when Ilke was seven years old.
By coming to Racine Ilke is looking to understand why her father left them and why he never contacted her. What she finds is a funeral home in very bad shape, financially about to go under. With very interesting employees, who aren’t what they seem.
There is a mystery, an old murder that is solved in the story line but it is peripheral to the introduction of Ilke as a series character.
I want to see where this goes, there are many unanswered questions and many different plot lines that could be developed. Nice to find a new twist. ( )
  librarian1204 | Mar 1, 2018 |
Sara Blaedel has been called Denmark's 'Queen of Crime'. I've enjoyed her Louise Rick mysteries. Blaedel herself has moved to the US, and her newest novel mirrors that move.

In The Undertaker's Daughter, Dane Ilka Jensen inherits a funeral home from the father she hasn't seen in over thirty years. It's in Wisconsin, but she decides to travel to the US - perhaps she will learn more about her long absent father.

The book is set in and around the funeral home and funeral practices. This was a decidedly different setting, one that opens up lots of possible avenues for plotting. I was initially drawn to Ilka as she arrived in Wisconsin, but that changed a few chapters in. I allowed for cultural shock, but viewed her thoughts, actions and reactions odd in many situations. The two employees of the funeral home treat her badly and chastise her for not immediately jumping in and conducting business right away. She does, and I found it a bit of a stretch. The same with her non-reaction to their attitudes. I can't believe that the funeral business in Racine would operate in the manner depicted, but hey, who knows. Ilka discovers Tinder and finds some sexual outlets, but I found this part of her character felt forced and I never really bought it.

There is a murder of course, but I found it weak as was the investigation into it. Every supporting character seems quite enigmatic and I found the non-answers grew tiresome after awhile.

I had not realized that this was the first book in a planned series and found the ending rather abrupt and unsatisfying. It literally ends with the words..."To be continued." I'm not sure if this was written in Danish and then translated? It just didn't flow and felt very awkward, both in language and plotting. Sad to say, but this one was just okay for me. ( )
  Twink | Feb 13, 2018 |
I hadn't read very many pages of The Undertaker's Daughter before I began forming an intense dislike for Ilka, the main character. She must be a prime case of arrested development: her mother knows Ilka's father better than Ilka ever will, but she hares off to Wisconsin like a bratty teenager because her mother couldn't possibly know anything. She's full of plans on what she's going to do once she gets there, but what does she actually do? Locks herself in her room, ignoring everyone all the next day, and when the person on the other side of the door finally gives up and shoves papers underneath, does she read them? Heavens no. She just signs them and shoves them back. Big mistake for the forty-year-old teenager.

She can't make up her mind what she's going to do. Is she going to go back to Copenhagen? Is she going to stay? Is she going to sell the business? Is she going to run it herself? I think the final straw for me was when she had a complete mess on her hands yet showed more interest in a date with someone she hooked up with on Tinder. My list of things that annoyed me about Ilka could go on for a day or two.

With my strong adverse reaction to the main character, you'd think I wouldn't have enough of my brain cells left to pay attention to the mystery. The mystery surrounding the cold case and the corpse in the cooler would have been far more engaging if the book hadn't been mired in page after page centering on the whiny Ilka. This is the start of a new series and ends on a cliffhanger. I don't think I need to tell you whether or not I'll continue with it. If you give The Undertaker's Daughter a try, I certainly hope you get much better mileage. ( )
  cathyskye | Feb 6, 2018 |
Sara Blaedel’s ‘The Undertaker’s Daughter,’ is, unfortunately, the first novel in a series and not a stand-alone novel. While I’m an avid reader of series fiction, I prefer installments that come to a resolution and don’t end with ‘To Be Continued.’

That said, Blaedel, according to the PR blurbs, is highly successful in her home Denmark and in Europe. I assume that the translator, Mark Kline, has done an adequate job reflecting Blaedel’s style, but the novel is a flat read. There was no time that I felt compelled to go on reading. The plot moved very slowly.

Briefly, Danish widow Ilka Jensen leaves Copenhagen for Racine, Wisconsin, to sell the funeral home left her by the father who had abandoned her family. Ilka is rather matter-of-fact and flat and she seems to plod through her days at the business. Once there she meets her father’s ‘new’ family, the strangely reticent employees of the home, and deals with the clients and their families. Mysterious events are afoot, but everything is so murky and low key that at times I wanted to throw the book across the room. Had Ilka been there, I’d have thrown it at her just to get a reaction.

(A free review copy was provided by the publisher.) ( )
1 vote dianaleez | Aug 5, 2017 |
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"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 ..."--… (more)

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