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ANWA Member since Oct. 2003 - Chapter President of "Write to the Point" writing group.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday's Fractured Features... Book Review

Deadly Undertakings by Gregg Luke

A Fiction - Suspense/Mystery
            The majority of us try miracle creams, moisturizers, and some even go for face-lifts as we try to stay young looking with our wrinkle removal choices, the proverbial fountain of youth. Gregg Luke takes this thought to some very vivid and alarming notions in this rewarding whodunit, Deadly Undertakings. Luke’s knowledge as a Pharmacist helped make this story and the characters come to life for the reader. His attention to detail keeps the reader enthralled in the story. Luke does use a lot of “big” words throughout, but I like novels like that, where my vocabulary increases as I’m reading.

It begins when 78-year-old Beth walks into her mother’s home and finds her in her bedroom laid out perfectly on top of her bed - with no pulse. She’s wearing in a clean pressed dress as though ready for burial. The whole room seems too neat, too precise. Another thing that’s bizarre is that she has a white handkerchief tenderly covering her face. Beth removes the hanky only to find a silver fifty-cent piece on each eye; she immediately calls 911 due to the curious and strangeness of the death of her 101-year-old mother.

In comes Salt Lake City’s Rebekah Smith, assistant State medical Examiner and her tutor, mentor and good friend Dr. Sandeep Mahesh. As they examine her body they discover there’s no blood in the circulatory system. As an increasing number of centurions are brought to the morgue, they try to determine the cause of death. The pacing in this novel kept me on the edge of my seat with anticipation for what might happen next. “Sandy” spends time tutoring Rebekah and helping her see the big picture by looking for what isn’t apparent. What do the centurions have in common other than long healthy lives?

Rebekah then turns to her boyfriend, special investigations officer Josh Logan for help in solving this strange puzzle; not only the centurions dying but the way they’re lain out neatly and the missing blood from their systems before the EMT are called. She and Josh set out in physical and computer searches to see what they can dig up. These characters have their own flaws and problems in life but set out single mindedly to solve the problems and mystery of the centurions who are losing their lives in such an un-natural setting. You can tell they’re in love, but Luke keeps it neat and clean, engaging you in their story.

In the meantime Dr. Robert Lansing, one of Rebekah’s head honchos, continues to sexually harass her and make her feel uncomfortable in his presence. His lascivious innuendos and incessant flirtations drive her to distraction. This mixed with the comings and goings of the police bullpen, where Rebekah is nicknamed CK (Crypt Keeper) by Josh’s co-worker; then the formidable Ms. Mossberg at a nursing home, all mixed together keep you guessing. What I like about a good suspense, mysteries, or thriller is if they can keep me guessing to the very end; and I’m not easily surprised – Luke has done a good job here.

As the clues pile up, so does the danger for Rebekah because of her inquisitive mind. Will Rebekah and Josh find out who the serial killer is before they themselves become a target? Is the perp working alone or is there a mastermind? I enjoyed this book through all of the ups, downs, snags and surprises. Luke’s resolution to the story keeps you in a nail biting suspense as the intensity builds and comes to a surprising conclusion. If you like a good whodunit, I highly recommend Gregg Luke’s Deadly Undertakings.

Gregg Luke taught one of the classes at a writing conference I recently attended. When I got home rather than go right to work on my own novel, I decided I would both work on my novel and read Gregg Luke’s book Deadly Undertakings. My plan was to use Deadly Undertakings as a work-book of sorts since the novel I’m writing is in the same genre. I love Luke’s writing style and own all of his books, which I have very much enjoyed. I was able to talk to him several times throughout the conference and he encouraged me to complete the novel I’m writing. So with all of this in mind I set forth, with pencil in hand, on which turned out to be a nail biting, suspenseful, reading marathon.  :O)

Deadly Undertakings turned out to be ever much as good as any of the other novels by Luke that I’ve read, maybe even better. I must agree with Brooke Ballard, CPhT., when she said, “Gregg Luke has a vivid imagination, which has resulted in his most twisted, creepy, and agonizingly intense novel yet. I loved it!”  

I likewise loved it which was the cause of the reading marathon and my husband wondering when I was going to come back to earth. I’m thinking I need to get Gregg Luke to agree to be my tutor, and mentor me in writing my novels.  :O)

Again, Deadly Undertakings is highly recommended – I would give it five stars. If you haven't read it... go enjoy!  ~ Joyce



  1. Gregg has done it again! (I wonder if his family finds it suspenseful to live with him?)

    1. Shirley, that's a good question! I'm pretty sure they don't have a problem with that though. :O)

  2. This is a great review! It makes me want to rush out and buy the book.

    1. Thank you Tina, yes - you should go get it... awesome spooky! :O)