Cover Image: The Undertaker's Daughter

The Undertaker's Daughter

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Member Reviews

I've read a lot of thrillers over the years, and this one just wasn't my favorite. I was interested in it at first, but it lost me after a bit. It was a decent read but not very memorable.
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I am very late in my review of this book.  While I loved the cover and the premise of the book, I tried several times to get into the novel but it just wasn't my style and I didn't finish the book.  Thank you for the advanced copy.
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What can I say? No matter often I think Blaedel has outdone herself, I open her latest book and I am blown away again. The way she weaves her stories together coupled with the level of tension she brings to this story makes it a perfect beginning for a series I will no doubt be clamoring for more of.
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I really tried with this one and I'm perplexed why this author is so popular in her home country. I stayed on with it for a long while, but, ultimately, gave up and didn't finish. It was a interesting premise but the narrative was more concerned with the character doing bone headed moves (like not reading a contract). Disappointing.
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I am surprised to say that this is my first Sara Blaedel book; for being a mystery/thriller reader I would have thought I would have read her before.  To put it short and sweet, this one didn't impress me, it was just bland.  

Ilka leaves Denmark when she comes to find out her father has passed and she has been named in some part in his will.  She must go to Wisconsin to find out what is left to her and what she must do to close this chapter.  Ilka's father had left her and her mother with a funeral home in Denmark and spoiler alert he has left her one in the states that is completely underwater and needs a lot of work.  

If you are a heavy reader like me, there are books sometimes that just on the ehh ok side and this one was that.  The plot was fine and the characters were ok, but overall it was just an ok for me.  I would not count out this author, but I would have to read another and completely enjoy it for me to continue on with her backlist.
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This is my first time reading anything from this author (although I have two of her other books from a different series currently sitting in my to-be-read pile). To be honest, I wasn't sure what I was expecting with this novel, however all things considered it was a bit of a disappointment.

I found the author's writing style to be strong – which was a definite plus – however the mystery fell flat, and the main character was very unlikable. To be honest, I couldn't really become invested in much of this due to Ilka and her behavior (which honestly would have made much more sense if she had been a much younger woman and not a 40 year old one). There were also some pretty big issues that Ilka as well as the funeral home needed to deal with that were never solved in any sustainable way. Sure, they managed to deal with the IRS problem, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. The mystery aspect of this story is what kept me reading, although it wasn't what I would call a thriller.

The biggest turn off for me is the fact that this novel ends on a huge cliffhanger. And while the cliffhanger by itself was enough to somewhat pique my interest, I will have to see if her other books are any better before I commit to reading another from this series.

All things considered, I am sure there are still plenty of people to which this novel will appeal. I will give this author (if not this series) another chance. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.
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Posts on my blog 3/11/2018

The Undertaker's Daughter was recently translated and released in the US.   Although I have a couple of this author's books in my TBR pile, this is the first I have actually read. The book involves Ilka Jensen who receives notice that her father, has died and left her his funeral home in the US.  She decides to travel Wisconsin to take care of his affairs and unload the funeral home.  

I'm not sure if there was anything that may have been lost in translation, but this was really dull.  It was a quick read and I only finished it because I was hoping to get to the mystery.  Apparently it was in there somewhere because when I got to the end there was a solution.    There was nothing mysterious or thrilling about this book.  If you can wade through all of the mundane funeral home stuff and the unlikable characters, you might be able to pick out the mystery for yourself. 

Ilka was strange and just boring.  Most of her actions and thought processes make no sense.  She is impulsive and not a nice person.  How did she expected to be able to run a funeral home in the US while she had no knowledge of US laws and regulations?  The other characters were equally as unlikable.  The motivations behind their attitude and actions toward Ilka didn't make any sense either. 

There was another story line that I thought was going to be the mystery, but it turns out it was a story arc that spills over into the next book.  Yep, this ends on a cliffhanger.  I'm not sure I will pick up the next one when it makes its way over to the US. I don't care enough about the main character to see what happens next.
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2.5 stars.  Not what I was expecting from Blaedel.  This was definitely not a thriller.  There was very little suspense or mystery.
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I really enjoy Sara Blaedel's books.  She creates interesting characters and details that seem to bring them to life for me, this book however didn't really excite me as much as some of her others.  Ilka is an interesting character, but at times it felt like there were parts of the story that was missing.  I kept hoping that the "gaps" would be filled in later, but I was left with an empty feeling at the ending of this book.
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When I first saw this book it really caught my attention.  The cover, the blurb, and trying out a new thriller author.  And I’ll admit that the cover quote gave me really high expectations as well.  So I went into this book excited for something new and … ended up quickly disappointed.

THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER is somewhat of a mystery at best, I don’t think I could call this a thriller by any means.  And even as a mystery it manages to present situations that would otherwise keep me interested in a way that was incredibly boring.  That’s the one word I could use to summarize this book.  Page after page that dragged and was a chore to read.  Everything is just very much everyday stuff and you have to wait until you get a morsel of something interesting somewhere in between.

Aside from that issue I had with the story, there’s the heroine.  It was interesting that even with the dull storyline and not much happening I still managed to not like our main character, Ilka.  She is not a young and immature woman, she’s a forty year old widow who just found out the father that abandoned her and her mother when she was a kid has died and has to travel to the US from Denmark.  I wasn’t prepared for some of her decisions throughout this book.  Especially when it came to sex and her own business back home.  To me she acted like that immature woman and I honestly couldn’t get to like her.

While this book ends without a resolution to the story, I don’t think I’m interested enough in reading the next one to find out how everything turns out.  Maybe if there had been a little more “thrills” and “danger” I could’ve been tempted.
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“The Undertaker’s Daughter” by Sara Blaedel is the first in the new “Ilka” series. Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer in Copenhagen, leads an unassertive, well-organized, and uneventful life until she receives shocking news. Her absentee father has died and left her his funeral home in Racine, Wisconsin. Not only does she know nothing about running a funeral home, she has never been to The United States. Of course, one of the “customers” turns out to be part of a criminal investigation. 
The book is character driven and chronicles Ilka’s struggle with the business, her mysterious father’s past, and her own personal demons. Background information about the characters was scattered throughout the book, but because they all were new, it took a while to get to know them. 
Although this first book was a little slow moving, almost plodding a times, the series has a lot of potential. The inherited funeral home is the perfect setting for both humor and mystery, as in  the TV show  “Six Feet Under”, and since this is a series, there are sure to be many more traumatic deaths in store for Ilka as she grows into a more complex amateur detective.   
This was not the typical Blaedel suspense thriller or police procedural; there was some suspense, but not nail-biting drama. It was interesting, and the cliffhanger ending hints that there is much more to come. 
I received a copy of “The Undertaker’s Daughter” from Sara Blaedel, Hachette Book Group, Grand Central Publishing, and NetGalley. The book was quick and easy to read, and it should develop into an enjoyable series.
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A very strange and different read from this Nordic author. Ilka leaves Denmark for Racine, Wisconsin, of all places, when she inherits and undertaking business from the father who left her and her mother when she was only seven. Hoping to learn more about her father and his life, she arrives to find a business seriously in debt and an unsolved murder.

Not quite sure what to make of this one, it is very different from her previous books. I liked Iklas character but the writing and atmosphere is very bland. The storyline somewhat scattered and at times confusing. The setting was novel and certainly leads to new areas of interest, much could have been made from this, but I didn't feel this was taken to advantage. Ultimately, I liked it but didn't love it, wanted more and found the way it was written confusing.

ARC from Netgalley.
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I never used to be one to abandon books.  I would always finish a book I was reading no matter how much I did not care for the story or characters.  Apparently, I have learned my lesson because this is my second DNF (Did Not Finish) this year.  I made myself read to about the halfway point just to make sure but, this one is definitely not for me.  There are too many books sitting around my house that I just don't want to waste my time anymore on something I am not enjoying.
     This book is billed as the first in a mystery/thriller series but almost everything is dealing with Ilka and her personal issues.  This is fine but not exactly what I signed up for and I really didn't find any of the characters likable.  The conversations were stilted and slightly unbelievable so it was just rather hard to get invested in any aspect of the story.
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I usually love Grand Central Publishing offerings, but this the first book I couldn't actually finish. It was boring, the criminal investigation part was very small, and I didn't find drawn to the character at all. The book started interesting enough with the main character's journey to the US, where I thought something will actually happen. Well into the second part of the book I realized that nothing much would,.

Sorry, but for me this one was a flop, and I won't be reviewing it on Mystery Sequels since I only review books that I actually finished.
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This is a strange one.  It's less a mystery (the mystery was weak and frankly a bit confusing and irrelevant) than it is a character study of Ilke, a Danish photographer who has traveled to Racine, Wisconsin after learning of the death of her long lost father.  Her father, Paul, owned a failing funeral home and Ilke more or less jumps right in, driving a hearse to pick up a body, meeting with a bereaved family, etc,- all without any background in the business.  There's a problem with the IRS, another funeral home is trying to buy her out, her father's US family wants nothing to do with her (they received the bulk of the estate) and in the midst of this- she 1) makes and forgets a tinder date and 2) picks up a guy at a bar for random sex (luckily not graphic.).  There's a  nun who lives and works at the funeral home, Artie the embalmer etc and then there's the mystery of who killed Mike.  In other words, there's a lot going on.  I stuck with this because I was curious where it was going and I must admit I wasn't pleased that it ended with a "to be continued."  Huh?  I'm not sure I'll read the next one but thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read something different from Blaedel.
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The Undertaker's Daughter is definitely something completely different from what I had expected when it comes to a Sara Blaedel book. For one thing, it did not feel like a thriller, more a mystery book. And, despite the serious subject did the book feel a lot more humorous than I had expected. You know the sad kind of humor when everything goes wrong, but in a funny kind of way. Like in this book when Ilka is out shopping for a coffin when the coffin that ass ordered wouldn't be delivered because of debts.

The book is, despite the lack of suspense still good. I breezed through the book and I found the book fascinating to read when it came to the difference between funerals in the United States and in Scandinavia. This is a book that does not answer all the questions, there is a cliffhanger in the end and I will definitely read the next book to know what will happen to the funeral home, and to find out more about Sister Eileen who seems very mysterious.

As for the unsolved murder, this is actually the books weakest point in my opinion. It's not like Ilka does much to solve the cold case, it's more that everything happens around the dead body that is found. Ilka is more a bystander than an active solver of the murder.

The best part of this book is definitely everything concerning the funeral home, Ilka trying to get to grips with her father's legacy and it will be interesting to read the next book to see what happens next.
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The first book in a new series by one of my favorite authors! 

Forty-year-old Ilka Nichols Jensen travels from Denmark to Racine, Wisconsin, USA, when her estranged father dies and leaves her his business -- a funeral home. Ilka's life as a widow in Copenhagen was nice and peaceful, she took school portraits for a living, and her mom and partner were close by. A nice, uncomplicated life. She's quite shocked when she finds out that the father who had abandoned them when she was 7 years old had made a new life in Racine. So what is she to do? She travels to Racine and finds not only a funeral business on the brink of bankruptcy, but a decades old murder mystery. The bodies keep on coming to the funeral home and Ilka finds herself in the middle of a huge mess. At first just eager to sort things and return home, she comes intent on discovering more about her father and the art of undertaking.

I really enjoyed this departure from the Louise Rick series for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I've always been secretly fascinated by the whole funeral business and actually considered whether to train in Mortuary Science so that I could work in one (before I found out how "family" controlled that the whole business actually is -- well, aside from the big conglomerates.) So I found the details absolutely fascinating as I believe it is both an art and a science to care for the dead and a ministry to attend to the families. I found the author's note explaining why she wrote this book quite illuminating and very easy to understand why she decided to write about this topic. Secondly, I loved the main character -- Ilka. What an unusual woman and an atypical protagonist. She's strong but sensitive, and I can't wait to learn more about her. Sure she has her personal demons, and coming to the USA where things were so different for her was quite a feat. I assume she's staying on at the funeral home and am eager to see how she assimilates in this unfamiliar territory. 

So - it is not your typical Blaedel suspense thriller or police procedural, but there is a mystery and lots of intrigue. I'm sure the secondary characters will be developed further as well. And I can't wait to see what happens next as the book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger!

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for the e-book ARC of this to read and review.
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This is a very different book from her Louise Rick series. It goes beyond the obvious differences (new characters, new setting) and has more to do with the tone. There are aspects of a mystery here, but it's more character-driven than I would consider the Louise Ricks novels to be.  That's not a complaint; I loved this one, too. But it didn't really feel like one of her mysteries.

This has more to do with Ilka trying to learn how to run a funeral home (one that's rapidly failing) and try and figure out the best way to honor her father's legacy (a man who, incidentally, abandoned Ilka and her mom when Ilka was a child) than it does with the murder victim. And it didn't feel like a let-down because all those aspects were incredibly interesting. (How much does anyone not involved with funeral homes know about this stuff? Probably not very much, right?)

Still, it ended on a huge cliffhanger, so be aware that you'll want the second book basically immediately. (Although I'd be willing to bet that would've been true even without the ending.)

Highly recommended.
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Ilka Jensen living in Copenhagen and running her late husband’s school photography business receives word that her father has died and has left her something in his will. Having abandoned Ilka and her mother years before, she travels to Racine, WI to find she has inherited a funeral parlor. A funeral parlor in financial trouble. When a young man who is presumed to be homeless is found beaten to death Ilka gets more involved that she had planned.

The parts about running a funeral home are interesting, and Ilka is an interesting person but I would hardly call this a mystery or suspense novel.

I received an advance copy of this from NetGalley.
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