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Final Undertaking by Mark de Castrique
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Final Undertaking

by Mark de Castrique

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A community celebration in Gainesboro, North Carolina turns deadly when an elderly man from Florida starts a shoot-em-up during a square dance. Among the wounded is the county sheriff, Tommy Lee Wadkins. The hospitalized sheriff calls on his friend Barry Clayton, the town’s undertaker and a former cop, to find out what prompted Mitch Kowalski to start firing. Barry also needs to identify a young, female victim, who remains in an induced coma. And what did the shooter’s final words – “He took my Lucy from me” – mean?

Although Barry does have law enforcement experience, it was as a patrolman, not a detective. Tommy Lee is mentally sharp, just physically unable to function as an investigator – so Barry becomes his legs. That doesn’t set well with the sheriff’s experienced deputies, who know Barry Clayton as a mild-mannered funeral director, not a hard-hitting lawman. And as the case progresses, it seems there’s a lot more to the story it appears – soon even Barry believes he may be in over his head.

While he’s playing detective, Barry relies on his Uncle Wayne; Fletcher Shaw, a bright college intern; and a part-time employee to keep Clayton & Clayton going. Barry’s dad is in frail health, suffering with Alzheimer’s disease; catering to Jack Clayton’s needs occupies much of his wife Connie’s time and attention. It was his dad’s illness that prompted Barry to leave law enforcement and return to Gainesboro to run the family business.

I had not read the three earlier books in this mystery series featuring Barry Clayton, but found myself unable to put this one down. I prefer mysteries in which the initial crime happens right up front – the longer I wait, the more frustrated I become, the more likely to just give up. In Final Undertaking, the author gets right to it and never lets up. The plotting is very tidy – no loose ends – and I found the small town setting quite charming. Barry Clayton is a tough heroine with a sympathetic heart and a great cast of supporting characters. Although I don’t feel the need to solve a mystery before the hero does, I did figure out the mystery about half-way through the book. That, however, didn’t keep me from enjoying the rest of the ride toward a very satisfying conclusion.

By Diana. First published in Mystery News, April-May 2007 issue. ( )
1 vote NewsieQ | May 25, 2007 |
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When Barry Claytons father developed Alzheimers, Barry gave up his career in law enforcement to return to the North Carolina mountain town of Gainesboro and run the familys funeral home. But even a small town in the Appalachians is not immune to crime.
At a summer street dance, Barrys friend Sheriff Tommy Lee Wadkins is gunned down by an old man distraught at the death of his wife. To the dismay of Deputy Reece Hutchins, hospitalized Tommy Lee appoints Barry as the deputy in charge of the investigation. Who was the old man stalking? Why was a young woman who was wounded at the scene traveling with the intended victim?
What at first appears to be a case of a mentally unstable summer tourist quickly develops into a tangled web of deceit stretching from western North Carolina to the Florida coast. Someone is preying upon senior citizens....
Barry realizes Deputy Hutchins is undercutting his investigation, but as potential witnesses and informants begin to die under mysterious circumstances, Barry confronts a conspiracy that runs so deep he no longer knows who to trust. One false step, one betrayal, will make this case Buryin Barrys final undertaking.
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When Barry Clayton's father developed Alzheimer's disease, Barry gave up his career in law enforcement to run the family's funeral home in the North Carolina mountain town of Gainesboro, where he is known as Buryin' Barry. But even a small town in the Appalachians is not immune to crime. At a summer street dance, Barry's friend Sheriff Tommy Lee Wadkins is shot at by an old man distraught over the death of his wife. The hospitalized Tommy Lee appoints Barry as the deputy in charge of the investigation, to the dismay of Deputy Reece Hutchins. Who was the old man stalking? Why was a young woman, who was also wounded at the scene, traveling with the intended victim? What at first appears to be a case of a mentally unstable summer tourist develops into a case in which someone is preying on senior citizens. Barry discovers a tangled web of deceit stretching from western North Carolina to the Florida coast. Barry realizes that Deputy Hutchins is undercutting his investigation. And as potential witnesses and informants begin to die under mysterious circumstances, Barry confronts a conspiracy that runs so deep that he no longer knows whom to trust. One false step, one betrayal, would make this case Buryin' Barry's final undertaking.… (more)

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