Flicks & Folios – Book Review: One Large Coffin To Go

At last I have found and read H. Mel Malton’s latest Polly Deacon book. Those of you who read my column may recall my review of Mel’s book series and a personal interview with her from last year’s columns. This is the latest book and it is both true to form and a pile of departures rolled up in one.

As the Carol Burnett Show used to crack, “When last we left Canoga Falls:,” Polly Deacon had discovered she was pregnant courtesy of a drunken night on an IKEA couch with on-again-off-again “boyfriend” Mark Becker. At the end of Mel’s last book Polly was trying to decide what to do about this pickle of a problem. Real life single gal Mel has done a great job of weaving pregnancy, career, scenic travel and a murder together in this latest writing job. In One Large Coffin To Go, Polly gets an idea to apply for a bursary to travel to England and present at a puppetry conference. She has no idea if she’ll get a bursary but gives it the old puppeteer try : and of course she succeeds or there’d be no reason for my mentioning it in my review!

Mark Becker, the not terribly proud papa, is being his usual annoying self — just enough for the reader to want to hire a special effects artist to let them reach into the book and smuck Mark upside the noggin’.

Lesser attention is given this time ’round to the farm and the local life Polly usually lives, although an incident with a young teenager and his “homework assignment” is too funny to miss!

When Polly winds up “selected for a random security search” at the Toronto Airport a bit of reality is thrown into this wildly funny book. Most of us are annoyed at many of the anal security measures we are forced to endure these days and it appears that Mel is on the same list of passengers muttering, “Tsk,” in line. Ultimately, the search of Polly’s puppets and person yields nothing and Polly goes on to the plane – a nervous traveler (Anyone who knows Mel will know she’s able to discuss this phenomenon at length:she’s a nervous flyer).

Jolly old England is described beautifully. As a Canadian my favorite complaint about the British is echoed in the book — the inevitable, “Are you American?” Polly grits her teeth and corrects the British as politely as possible (Me? I’m inclined to say -“No– you’re Australian aren’t you!”).

Polly’s method for handling the endless cell phone calls on the train to the conference is a solid laugh. I know exactly what she means with the comment about constantly hearing the fellow travelers say, “I’m on the trine.” I hear the Canadian version on the local transit every day.

In England Polly meets up with a local Canadian and the high-tech expectations of the conference official, as well as the guy who’s constantly trying to steal her puppet case. In a superb case of denial, Polly is finally attacked in a deep, dark and historic basement, but not before a look-alike woman is murdered : and her unborn child too. It is the most disturbing murder in Mel’s series yet.

Finally Polly is forced to meet up with the rotten nogoodnik and try to reason with him, but the fellow Canadian is trying to talk some sense into her:in his temporary British bed.

Does the plea to the bad guy work? Does her low-tech presentation turn out all right at the conference despite the bad guy showing up? As if I’M going to tell you! Ha! Read One Large Coffin To Go and find out yourself. Have a laugh to start the new year:. school’s tough.

In the meantime I’ll tell Mel you’re on the way to the bookstore and wish her a Happy New Year. Happy New Year to you too.

Laura Seymour first published herself, at age 8. She has since gone on to publish a cookbook for the medical condition Candida. She is working toward her B.A. (Psyc).

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