This is the first book I’ve read by F.M. Meredith and the 1st in her Rock Bluff PD series. It’s called Final Respects due to the fact that one of the main characters is a mortician. Stuart Honich loves his work but ever since Mr. Taussig of Taussig and Tiedemann Funeral Home passed away, he’s been tormented by the three spoiled Tiedemann girls, who treat the mortuary and its visitation rooms as a playground; he and the girls share a mutual loathing. He’s a lonely soul whose only girlfriend, Emily, jilted him when the detailed descriptions of his work became too real. On top of this, his father was “murdered,” from his point of view, by police in a shootout, so policemen aren’t among his favourite people either.
When Honich decides to have a little fun scaring the Tiedemann girls and their new babysitter, Janice (who bears a strong resemblance to the fickle Emily), he meets up with policeman Doug Milligan, member of the Rocky Bluff Police Department, by playing the role of concerned neighbour. Milligan picks up on the bad vibes between Honich and the girls, and has Janice call their parents to come home. Impressed with 14-year-old Janice’s calm and responsible attitude, and always in need of a good sitter, Milligan gets Janice’s information with a promise to call when he and his wife, Kerrie need a sitter. This sparks in Stuart the hatching of a bizarre plan to take revenge on Emily and the police, and as the plot thickens, he becomes more and more unhinged.
We are invited into the lives and homes of several policeman, Al Bertaone and his wife Barbara, a proud and devoted wife, Abel Navarro, who receives a superficial wound in the line of duty in this story, and “publicity hound, Rick Strickland, [who] will do anything to further his career” and really has no close friends on the force. Rick is also involved with a divorcée who has a young son and a problem with pills and liquor. Doug’s wife, Kerrie, is good friends with Barbara but they are opposite poles in their attitudes toward police work, and when a horrible crime is committed in the Milligan’s home, it’s the final straw for her.
This book was an easy read and had some interesting and even funny incidents occur during the everyday life of a squad car cop. Police procedure was pretty solid for a small town (fictitious town) community set in southern California. Despite the fact that it’s obvious almost from the beginning who the villain will be, I thought there might be more suspense as the story built, and although I found the characters interesting, I found them and their actions pretty predictable. Perhaps if I read a few more in this series, I’d get caught up more in the characters’ lives, but I’m not sure I will. It seems lots of people enjoy this series, so I guess it’s just not my cup of tea. * * *