MYSTERY

Secret Undertaking

Poisoned Pen. (Buryin' Barry, Bk. 7). Sept. 2018. 274p. ISBN 9781464210358. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781464210389. M
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OrangeReviewStarBarry Clayton runs his family's funeral home business and works as a part-time sheriff's deputy in Laurel County, NC. He also copes with the wild schemes of a former classmate, insurance agent Archie Donovan. Archie's latest plan is to be arrested on a float during the annual Apple Festival Parade, and raise funds for the local Boys and Girls Clubs while in jail. During the parade, the grand marshal is attacked, and Barry's elderly uncle saves him. Meanwhile, the owner of a convenience store is shot to death. Sheriff Tommy Lee Wadkins is shrewd enough to put everything together as food stamp fraud, but there's so much more involved. Barry goes undercover to check out convenience stores, but Archie's loony attempt to be a big shot in jail causes trouble. It seems the federal Witness Protection Program has a couple hiding in Laurel County. As bodies pile up, the sheriff wants to know if there's a convergence in his two cases.
VERDICT The author follows Risky Undertaking with another intricately plotted story for fans of traditional mysteries. The dark humor, a small community in a regional mystery, and a strong supporting cast of believable characters will appeal to Margaret Maron's readers.

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