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April 4, 2020

The Undertaker's Daughter by Debra Webb ~ a Series Review

by MK French

Debra Webb just released the third book in The Undertaker's Daughter series: The Darkness We Hide. Since I'm new to the series, I read the first two books as well since this a series that you need to have the information from the previous books to truly enjoy. If you are looking for a great thriller, then pick up this series.

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The Secrets We Bury by Debra Webb

April 2019; MIRA; 978-0778308300
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); thriller
Psychiatrist Rowan Dupont had grown up with death. Her family ran the funeral home, her twin sister drowned when they were twelve, her mother committed suicide, and her father was recently murdered. On top of that, her mentor of twenty years turned out to be a serial killer. She retreated to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee to run the family funeral home, but she still can't dodge the specter of death. Looking into the fateful summer her sister drowned, she's starting to wonder if it was an accident after all.

This is the first book of the Undertaker's Daughter series. Even so, there is so much back story that it still feels like I was missing an earlier book in the series. There is so much that the characters know that the reader doesn't, and it only heightens the sense of secrecy. The fact that buried bones were found in chapter one is mirrored throughout the novel with buried secrets and ordinary people hiding extraordinary things. Rowan is continually under stress and sure that she's losing it; Julian contacting her and the authorities doubting her doesn't help. She's put through one stressful situation after another, and it gets to the point that she can't even trust her own memories of her sister's death.

Rowan has essentially given up her psychiatry practice and the forensic work she used to do and has changed to being an undertaker full time. She's clinging to her ideals regarding her family, especially her father, and a lot of those ideals are put into doubt. She's not sure whether it was a ploy to undermine her or not, so the reader can't tell, either. There are far too many questions left unanswered at the close of the novel, even if the concern about her family's funeral home is settled.

Buy The Secrets We Bury at Amazon

The Lies We Tell by Debra Webb

September 2019; MIRA; 978-0778308317
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); thriller
Serial killer Julian Addington is still following Rowan Dupont, and she questions how well the killer knew her family. Now she is investigating her mother's suicide, as well as all of the lies told in the wake of her death.

This is the second book in the Undertaker's Daughter series, and relies on reading the first book. There are summaries of the past, but I think it makes far more sense to read the first book first. Beginning with a new body brought to the mortuary, Rowan is again pulled into Julian's orbit. The body has her mother's name tattooed on him, and he was described in her mother's stories/journal. She's forced to consider that she really knew nothing at all about her mother and that Norah Dupont might have been more involved with Julian than she previously thought.

There is a lot of fear on Rowan's part, and she tries so hard to distance herself from Billy emotionally out of fear that Julian would wind up killing him. The people closest to her tend to die, and finding out that her mother was involved with serial killers in some way was a chilling realization. She tried so hard to be a good undertaker since she isn't practicing as a psychiatrist anymore and helped Billy with some investigations. The deaths that began to crop up in town weigh on her, as she is sure they're Julian's work, though they don't have the same exact hallmarks. There are twists along the way until we find out what actually happened to the bodies that were found. We're also left with more questions about Rowan's mother, and the questionable past that she must have had.

Buy The Lies We Tell at Amazon

The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb

March 2020; MIRA; 978-0778309475
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); thriller
Looking into the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan Dupont only found more questions and more secrets than she had bargained for. Each discovery had led to more bodies and deaths, and the serial killer Julian Addington is still at large. This is her final chance to take him down for good.

This is book three of The Undertaker's Daughter Series. I think it would help to have read the earlier books first, though there are summaries of pertinent information from the prior books woven throughout this novel. Rowan is still the undertaker, still dancing around the FBI involvement and the supervision that they and the local police have. It was a quiet four months since the close of the prior book, but there are deaths again. The coroner died just before a breakfast meeting with Rowan, and apparently, he was investigating something about her family history. Discovering his evidence leads her to dig more into her mother, though there are other deaths and a mystery visitor that start pointing her in the correct direction.

I didn't expect the past that tied Julian and Norah or the lengths to which Norah had gone to try to keep herself and her family safe. It feels sudden, given how much secrecy there had been earlier in the trilogy, but does explain the level of obsession. Julian had been so terrifying because of how he was able to slip through security checkpoints and go undetected for so long; that does get explained at the close of the book as well. There are a few different threads throughout the book that get tied up at the end, actually, and the epilogue provides a happily ever after that I had hoped for but almost didn't expect to see given the tension level throughout the series. This a thriller series more than a romance one, but hits both notes very well.

Buy The Darkness We Hide at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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