Can a portrait artist exhume the heart of an uptight funeral director while they are chased across country by the drug cartel and police?
A sweet romantic suspense
All portrait artist Lizzie Cantrell wanted was a change in careers to avoid consoling bereaved families and dealing with death. She didn’t know she’d end up stealing a dead body and a casket full of heroin and running from the drug cartel. She also didn't know she’d end up on the 6 o’clock news wanted for grand theft auto, robbery and assault on a police officer. And to top it off, she must deal with her sister's Chinese Crested, stowaway dog and a stiff-necked funeral director to boot.
Buried away as a funeral director for the past two years because of an accident that left him scarred, Phillip Van Dyke finds himself in a grave situation involving a military drug smuggling operation. Worse yet, his accomplice is a beautiful portrait artist who’s managing to exhume the remains of his deceased heart.
“I can’t believe I’m actually in a graveyard in the middle of the night. Let alone in a hearse.” Lizzie wrung her hands together. “Why couldn’t we reach anyone at Peaceful Gardens? What if something bad has happened?”
“Try not to worry. This will all be over soon.” But Phillip’s face looked as dismal as a defaced tombstone.
“I hope so. I have job applications to fill out. What if someone has already called offering me a job?”
“There’s a crypt right up here on the right.”
“So after we’ve gotten rid of the hearse—ˮ
“Casket coach, Lizzie.”
“You’re as bad as Herbert. Hearse, casket coach…I don’t want to be in either one.”
“Why are you so put-off by death? Annie doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, all right?” She couldn’t deal with her issues in the middle of a graveyard. What poor timing. “I haven’t exactly seen a shrink about it. I just am. Can we get this over with?”
Phillip drove up a small dirt road. The headlights refracted against the smooth, cement building. She watched him cautiously glance around before getting out.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. She bolted out of the car and then dashed toward the back to be with him. He’d opened the door and had started to slide out the casket.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked.
“Grab the other end.”
She struggled with the weight.
“Could you hurry a little?” Phillip prompted.
“You try balancing on stilettos in the dark through this moist grass while carrying a heavy casket.”
In the distance, she caught sight of movement which flitted like a ghost between two headstones. She dropped her end and then screamed.
“What?” Phillip demanded.
“Over there. A ghost!” She could barely get the words to pass her lips. Her whole body had frozen into an ice sculpture.
“Lizzie, there’s no such thing as ghosts.”
They both paused, listening to the silence, the night as still as a tomb.
They took a few steps toward the crypt. The night air cracked and then something whizzed by within an inch of her shoulder.
“That is no ghost. Hurry, Lizzie. Pick up your end,” Phillip yelled.
Lizzie wanted to take off running but obeyed for some strange reason. Three more shots rang past them as they reloaded the casket.
She beat Phillip to the front seat. “Drive,” she yelled, turning the key for him.
As he drove away, she watched as the flash of gunfire illuminated the man just enough to make out his military uniform. Lizzie threw herself deeper into the seat, her heart racing. “It was him. We actually escaped with our lives.”
“It’s hard to be accurate with a pistol at that distance.”
“You seem very calm to me,” she said, brushing at an unruly strand of hair.
“We’re in trouble, Lizzie.”
“This is getting out of hand.”
“What other brilliant plans do you have in mind? I’m for abandoning everything and going home.”
“You know we can’t go home.”
“I want my life back.”
“They’ll find us,” he said, giving her a worried look.
“Who is this ‘they’ you’re referring to?”
“I don’t know, but we won’t be safe until we find out.”
She gritted her teeth. “How do you know so much about drug dealers?”
Pain seared across his face. “I just do.”
“Oh.” Obviously he didn’t want to share his experience. She didn’t want to press the matter. From talking with her clients, she knew getting your feelings out in the open helped the healing process. Phillip appeared to want to bury his past inside, festering forever.
“Tell me again why we can’t just go to the police?” she questioned.
Phillip gave an exasperated sigh. “We don’t know anything yet.”
“Let the police figure out the truth.”
“If you think turning everything over to the police will stop them from coming after us, you’re sorely mistaken.”
“But we’ll just tell them we don’t have the drugs.”
“Did you just crawl out from under a rock?”
She pursed her lips at him.
“Until we give the police enough information to arrest them, we’re still in danger. I’m afraid we are going to have to continue using ourselves as bait until they make a mistake.”
“You mean kill us.”
“No. I won’t let that happen.”
Lizzie folded her arms. “So now what do we do?”
“Wait until morning, try calling Dover again and get rid of the coach. We’ll just have to park somewhere out of sight and rest. You could probably stretch out in the back.”
"Wow! What a simply refreshing story. You can’t help but fall in love with the zany antics of Lizzie and Phillip in this story that has you laughing and wanting to read on to find out what could possibly happen next.
Ms. Christiansen does a great job making the characters so real you actually find yourself caught up in their outrageous adventures."
Romancing the Book Review
Running from a job of dealing with the dead, she may end up dead herself. "Caskets and Corruption" follows Lizzie Cantrell as her change in career of working at a funeral home leaves her on the run from the law as wrong move after wrong move makes her life all the more difficult. With a nosey dog behind her, Lizzie's world will never be the same if she can't escape from this alive. With plenty of humor of an accidental stumbling into a world of drugs, "Caskets and Corruption" is a strong pick for general fiction collections, highly recommended.
Witty Dialogue, Plenty of Twists!
Fun, fresh and exciting, Caskets and Corruptions was a delightful read. It has a great blend of both suspense and comedic elements that keeps the story upbeat and fast paced.
The heroine Lizzie, gets caught up in a mess when she storms in to confront her sister's ex boss. I bet she's sorry about that, at least at first, when she comes in at a time things start to get a little strange around there.
Phillip is mysterious, and intriguing, even despite his grumpy personality in the beginning. But his demeanor changes during the book. Throwing him in an adventure with the beautiful Lizzie is bound to do that.
This was a great book to read, and I enjoyed it. I love the witty and great dialogue the author throws in and the plot is filled with excitement, and plenty of twists. If you're a fan of contemporary suspense that has potential to leave a smile on your face, then don't miss this story!