Funeral Daze

Fiction - Suspense
364 Pages
Reviewed on 06/16/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

DORIAN BOX is the pen name for Andrew McClurg, a former law school professor and the author or coauthor of seven nonfiction books, including an Amazon Editors’ Favorite Book of the Year.

In fiction, he likes to combine dark themes with heart, hope, and humor. His five novels have received indie book awards/honors from Publishers Weekly, Writer’s Digest, IndieReader,, Feathered Quill, Readers’ Favorite, and the National Indie Excellence Awards.

As an academic, he won numerous awards for both teaching and research and wrote thousands, possibly millions, of scholarly footnotes. He’s been interviewed as a legal expert by National Public Radio, the PBS Newshour, the New York Times, and many other sources.

McClurg (or maybe it was Box) spent the previous decade living out his childhood rockstar fantasies singing and playing in Memphis cover bands.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Funeral Daze is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama, suspense, satire, and adventure subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience for its occasional use of explicit language and theming around death and dying. Penned by author Dorian Box as the sequel to the hilarious and darkly dramatic Psycho-Tropics, we find ourselves back with protagonist Danny Teakwell five years after the events of the previous novel. But when the now-twelve-year-old Jessica Jewel turns up homeless and missing her parents, the reluctant and grief-stricken Danny feels compelled to help her. So begins an investigation and an adventure that might just bring Danny back to life as a result.

Author Dorian Box has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel that gives a fresh coat of paint to the 'unlikely duo' trope as Danny and Jessica set off to solve their mystery together. I always enjoy tales with precocious children in them, and Box’s knack for dialogue really sparks with Jessica, offering real laugh-out-loud moments despite the dark and deadly lacing of mortuary humor that runs throughout the novel as a whole. Danny’s emotional journey is also a great triumph in terms of its pacing and intimate portrayal, as we see him handle real, powerful, and palpable grief in one moment, which is then juxtaposed against some really amusing absurdist plot interjections. This clash works beautifully to showcase all the weird and wonderful facets of life and provide color and life to smash through Danny’s gloomy outlook. Overall, Funeral Daze is a novel that takes both light and dark elements to present a fantastically engaging, emotionally resonant story in a deeply humorous and satirical fashion. Unmissable reading.

Asher Syed

Funeral Daze by Dorian Box begins with twelve-year-old Jessica Jewell's parents telling her to sign a consent form to transfer her trust assets right as they sell the family funeral home, and she justifiably feels betrayed. Danny Teakwell, a widowed family friend who shares an important history with the Jewells, agrees to babysit Jessica overnight. Jessica's parents do not return and Jessica and Danny cannot reach them but decide not to call the police. Jessica and Danny start to look for her and witness unusual activity at the funeral home and stumble upon evidence of a drug smuggling operation. Questions over the sale and a subsequent tragedy fuel Jessica's desire to find the truth and pursue justice. Jessica and Danny hire the unscrupulous lawyer Bennie “Fink” Finkel and this sets in motion a series of legal and investigative actions related to Jessica's claims of extortion and murder.

Funeral Daze by Dorian Box is a hybrid cozy mystery and crime fiction novel and as someone who prefers the former but respects the latter, it worked out rather perfectly. Danny and Jessica have distinct personalities and even though Jessica is only a child the strong emotional connection between them that McClurg lets evolve organically eventually shows that Danny needs Jessica as much, and probably more, than she needs him. I am a “girl dad” myself and loved that Danny did not impede Jessica's agency nor did he brush her off when she suspects foul play and wants to take proactive steps to investigate it further. Adult fiction is short on children who have a better sense of what is happening than their guardians and when Jessica is seated in a witness box accusing an FBI agent of misconduct and challenging the official position on the avalanche of crimes she uncovers, that was a fist-pump moment for me as a father. At one point I even felt a little sorry for a con man linked to a powerful drug cartel, which is a testament to McClurg's skill at connecting readers to his characters. Well written and entertaining. Very highly recommended.

Essien Asian

For as long as Danny Teakwell could remember, the Jewells had always been there for him. They went out of their way to get him off the hook when he was staring at the electric chair and even though time had passed since those days and he was struggling with the loss of his wife, it didn't seem out of place when they asked him to mind their daughter Jessica while they were out of town. As news begins to filter in of unusual activity involving funeral homes, Danny suspects there is more to his friends skipping town than they are saying. Danny suspects they will need his help but can he save them before it is too late? Only time will tell in Funeral Daze by Dorian Box.

An unlikely pair come together to solve a mystery surrounding dead people in the storyline of Dorian Box’s novel. Dorian’s characters are an interesting assortment as each of them has one unusual thing about them when it comes to their origin stories. Following Danny as he deals with life after Sari is very moving while Jessica’s zest for adventure lightened the mood whenever it got too serious and added a certain balance to the overall storyline. What I admire about Box’s storytelling approach is that despite the bulk of the activities revolving around organized crime, he manages to keep the violence on paper to the barest minimum without diluting the excitement in the story. Funeral Daze is an impressive novel that everyone would enjoy.

Jamie Michele

Funeral Daze by Dorian Box is a sleuth mystery that revolves around a man named Danny Teakwell and a pre-teen girl left in his care named Jessica Jewell. One night turns into a long stretch when Danny, who owes Jessica's family a favor for a murder acquittal years prior, takes the girl in. She's been robbed of her deceased grandfather's legacy, a partial stake in a funeral home, and her parents, who she blames, disappear. At Jessica's insistence, she enlists her makeshift guardian Danny into helping. What they begin to discover leads both to believe her parents are more than just missing, and the sale of the funeral home may also have been forced on her parents. Things go from bad to worse as the situation unravels and Danny begins the process to become Jessica's legal guardian if the worst should happen. Jessica's life is endangered when the situation escalates but the girl proves she has more courage in her pinky finger than a corpse with a glove full of cocaine has in his entire dead body.

What's worse? Being targeted by the 'sicarios' of an international cartel, or being targeted by a shark in open water? I am not sure but one thing I am sure of is that I chased the plot of Funeral Daze by Dorian Box all the way to the end and had a blast reading it. Dorian Box balances some incredibly heavy themes, such as loss, grief, child displacement, and incredible physical and emotional trauma with moments of genuine levity that come in the form of intelligent humor. The writing is more often brilliant than not, the standout being a lawyer with zero moral compass writing a drug-fueled legal filing in a scene that is narrated as a stream of consciousness. There were times when, in my mind, there were issues that I did not see Dorian Box tying up, especially pertaining to a twelve-year-old girl being in the indefinite care of an accused murderer. Patience, dear reader! They do come. Overall, this was an exceptional read and an easy way to while away a couple of evenings.

Alma Boucher

Dorian Box wrote the suspense novel Funeral Daze. Danny Teakwell received assistance from the Jewell family and Jessica, their seven-year-old daughter, five years ago when he was set up for murder. After her grandfather's funeral, Jessica awoke to the sound of her father's frantic phone call. Coming home from school, Jessica found her parents in the living room, quiet and looking worried. Jessica’s parents sold the funeral home and need her to sign a document to transfer trust assets. The deal doesn't make sense to her because Jessica was raised to believe it was her destiny to be the next owner of Slagger-Jewell Funeral Home. When Jessica is sent to live with her aunt, whom she barely knows, she decides to ask Danny for help. Jessica is not prepared for her parents to lose the funeral home and wants to know what is going on.

Funeral Daze is an excellent thriller that had me intrigued from the start. Dorian Box provided plenty of action, and there was never a dull moment. It was fast-paced, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. The chapters flowed into each other, and it was easy to read and follow. With all the surprises, I never knew what to expect next. The characters were brilliantly developed and authentic. They could be any of my friends. The growing friendship between Danny and Jessica was interesting, and they helped each other a lot more than they realized. The story was excellently written and held my attention until the end. The ending fits after all the drama in the story.