Book Review: First Call by Janice J. Richardson

First Call (A Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery #4)First Call by Janice J. Richardson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The ‘Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery’ series never fails to surprise, entertain, and sadden me. Janice J. Richardson’s tales about a funeral home in Canada near Niagara Falls are heartwarming and educational, but above that, they are beautifully told. I thoroughly enjoyed this last one, and I’m hoping it won’t be the last one… though I fear it is as the author is working on other books at the moment. Let’s focus on all the positive things rather than worry about whether there might not be another one.

Jennifer Spencer runs two funeral homes, and the winter season has been brutal. A flu epidemic has settled in the area, and residents and town officials fear it could be as bad as the Spanish Influenza from the early 20th century. Morgues and hospitals have run out of bed space. Doctors and coroners are overworked. The military has been called in, and a special task force has been created. Jennifer’s named to a high-ranking position as a coordinator among all the local funeral homes. In the end, 5% of the population dies. I tell you this now, not as a spoiler, but as a warning. Not all supporting cast members we’ve come to adore in the four books will make it out alive.

Richardson broke my heart a few times. I completely understand it from a writer’s perspective. From a reader’s, I was torn. It absolutely made sense and was the right thing to do; I recognize that much. Therefore… I must say… I loved how much it impacted me. Kudos to Richardson for creating such wonderful characters I don’t want to say goodbye to. That said, it wasn’t all just about the flu epidemic. We also followed up a bit on the killer who got away with murder in the last book, and revisited some oldies from prior books who resurfaced in unexpected ways.

The best thing I can say about these books is how well-written and balanced they are. Richardson has taken something that could be painful and awkward, then turned it into a beautiful story of caring for the dead. I never thought I’d want to read about a funeral home (okay, well, I am interested in that stuff) and its daily operations, but this is such an intriguing concept in a book. To watch our morticians suffer through loss, to grieve with the families… it’s truly a unique setting.

The mysteries are generally very light, so if you’re looking for a hardcore whodunit, this isn’t what you will get. I’m good with that, as there is a fine balance to letting the cops work the murder case in these books. Jennifer provides info to them, doesn’t seek out the killer herself. It usually falls in her lap, or she just picks up on something… then lets the professionals handle it. I like that style too, and given the writing style and character development, it’s a perfect fit for this series.

What a great ride! I’m hoping for more but thrilled to have experienced these four. All easy-to-read within 3 hours each, and in the end, I feel like I learned and grew a lot. Thank you.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.



  1. I read the first in this series several years ago, but for some reason, I did not post a review anywhere. I did enjoy the one I read. I think I need to go back and reread it from the beginning. Wonderful review Jay and your feelings about whether or not this series is ending is a positive push for me to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s