Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Daughter by Sara Blaedel

Note: This book was previously published as The Undertaker's Daughter

Ilka Jensen hasn't seen her father in over a decade. And now he's died and left her a funeral home in Racine, Illinois. And so she travels from Denmark to the US to settle her father's estate in spite of her mother's warnings. And her mother is well within her rights to warn Ilka. After all, Paul Jensen abandoned them, leaving her mother in charge of a funeral home in Denmark that was buried in debt. 

As it turns out, Paul's gambling and penchant for racking up debts didn't change when he moved to the US. The funeral home is struggling and the IRS is ready to seize its assets to cover Paul's massive liability. And yet, Ilka is hesitant to go against her father's wishes in regards to the business. 

As if dealing with those issues weren't enough, Ilka finds herself in a confusing power play with the other employees of the funeral home. And, to make matters worse, one of their most recent pick ups turns out to be a man who was accused of murder many years ago. Just having his body in their cold storage seems to have made them a target for the town's ire, which hasn't faded one bit over time. 

It's been ages since I read Sara Blaedel. In fact, this year has seen my return to numerous Nordic Noir series and authors I've long been familiar with. But it's Blaedel's Louise Rick series that I've read and this, The Daughter, is a completely different series. 

I love Ilka! She's got spunk and attitude! 

Ilka is a photographer. She's also a widow. And she's already dealt with and moved past her father's abandonment of her when she was a child. Or so she thought. 

She also thought clearing up his estate would be easier than it turns out to be!

Ilka is dropped into the middle of everything. Her first day in town, she has to meet with the family of a deceased woman and discuss their funeral plans! She also has to pick up a body at the morgue. Some of it is a bit of a power play, some of it is frustration at the fact that she hasn't much paid attention to what's going on around her. She signed papers taking over the funeral home without realizing what they were—after warnings to read them prior to signing!

And strangely, though her father apparently felt no responsibility towards his first child, she feels an obligation to his business. 

The Daughter is a mystery, but it's also a bit of a family drama. And it's the first of three books, which becomes more and more apparent the closer you get to the end. Yep, there's something of a cliffhanger and an actual "To be continued..." at the end of the last page. 

While I expected it to be heavier on the mystery plot after reading a few of the Rick books, I was overall quite pleased with this new series from Blaedel. As I said, I really liked Ilka. She's forthright and pretty clear in her motivations. Unraveling her father's issues and finding the core of them—and why he left in the first place—is her overall goal but she also cares about the business and the people coming to them in their time of need. 

Ilka's story continues in Her Father's Secret and The Third Daughter. All three titles are out now (I've already got Her Father's Secret queued up and ready to go on audio!). 

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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