Cover image for The hearse you came in on
The hearse you came in on
Cockey, Tim.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 308 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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What self-respecting undertaker would allow himself to get involved in a murder investigation, a series of dirty videos, a case of political blackmail, and police corruption, as well as one of the worst amateur theater productions in recent memory? None, unless your name happens to be Hitchcock Sewell, the most charming suspense hero to come along in years. And who knew an undertaker could look so good? In this fast-paced and enormously entertaining mystery, Hitch has gotten himself into more trouble than any self-respecting undertaker should.

Author Notes

Tim Cockey is the award-winning author of the Hitchcock Sewell novels, including The Hearse You Came In On, Hearse of a Different Color, The Hearse Case Scenario, Murder in the Hearse Degree, and Backstabber. He has been a story analyst for many major film and television companies, including American Playhouse, ABC, and Hallmark Entertainment. He grew up in Baltimore and now lives in New York City.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Just when you think we've run out of oddball vocations for the ever-growing number of amateur sleuths, you're fooled again: meet Hitchcock Sewell, the mystery genre's first undertaker hero. Cockey's delightful first novel begins when a woman named Carolyn James wanders into a wake at Hitch's mortuary and wants to schedule a funeral--for herself. James turns up murdered the next day, right on schedule, but it isn't the same woman, prompting Hitch to launch an investigation that uncovers wholesale corruption in the upper reaches of the Baltimore police department. It also throws Hitch into the arms of a beguiling female police detective who has some serious scores to settle with her superiors. Cockey possesses a terrific comic touch, and his spot-on evocation of working-class Baltimore calls to mind a Barry Levinson film. Elmore Leonard fans are sure to like Cockey's dry wit, and the laidback Hitch, who would rather drink another beer than risk his life, will remind readers of Dallas Murphy's equally laconic Artie Deemer. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

A laid-back tone and lively Baltimore milieu combine with a plot overloaded with murder, blackmail, police corruption and political coverups in this debut mystery. Wisecracking Hitchcock Sewell, proprietor of Sewell & Sons Family Funeral Home, is intrigued when Carolyn James tries to arrange her own funeral, especially when a different Carolyn James turns up at the mortuary, a suicide. Hitch discovers that his attractive visitor was Det. Kate Zabriskie, working on a special case for Baltimore Police Commissioner Alan Stuart. Someone is blackmailing Stuart, who's running for Maryland governor, with videos of his wealthy, promiscuous wife in bed with tennis pro Guy Fellows, who's just been murdered and was Carolyn's boyfriend. Meanwhile, Kate is trying to recover from the death of her husband, an undercover cop she accidentally killed in a stakeout. The ease with which Stuart manipulates Kate, taking advantage of her grief and guilt, stretches credibility; so does her slowness to recognize his motives. Kate and Hitch soon become romantic partners as they pursue a trail leading to illegal toxic waste-dumping and murder-for-hire. Appealing characters abound--in Hitch's amateur theater group, his hangout the Screaming Oyster Saloon and the Maine seaport where Kate and Hitch track a crooked retired cop. Baltimore's neighborhoods as well as its class and political structures are ably depicted, though the pleasant ambience and chatty tone, which often slow the tempo, are at odds with the dark underlying themes of wanton corruption and vicious emotional exploitation. Even so, with this novel Cockey and Hitch, mortician extraordinaire, make a welcome entrance to the genre. Agent, Victoria Sanders. U.K. rights to Piatkus. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Crisp prose, witty repartee, incipient romance, and political scandal color this excellent first novel by a talented writer. Hitchcock Sewell, who narrates and investigates, operates a Baltimore funeral parlor with his aunt. His adventure begins when an attractive woman asks about a funeral for herself, using the name of a woman who later commits suicide. Hooked, "Hitch" searches for the mysterious woman (who turns out to be a detective), then learns that someone murdered the suicide's blackmailing lover. Entertaining subplots involve a beautiful, sleep-around ex-wife, a little theater production, and various remarkable funerals. A memorable read; strongly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.