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The Undertaker's Daughter

(Ilka Jensen #1)

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,888 ratings  ·  330 reviews
Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen. Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: Her father–who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on the family more than three decades ago–has died. And he’s left her something in his will: his funeral home. In Racine, ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Grand Central Publishing (first published June 10th 2016)
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Diane S ☔
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A very strange and different read from this Nordic author. Ilka leaves Denmark for Racine, Wisconsin, of all places, when she inherits and undertaking business from the father who left her and her mother when she was only seven. Hoping to learn more about her father and his life, she arrives to find a business seriously in debt and an unsolved murder.

Not quite sure what to make of this one, it is very different from her previous books. I liked Iklas character but the writing and atmosphere is ve
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Seriously? This is the queen of Danish crime fiction? Well, that's hugely disappointing. And to think I was so excited to see her new book available on Netgalley, thought finally this is the time I discover Blaedel for myself. The book itself is a overwhelmingly underwhelming story of a 40 year old woman who comes from Copenhagen to Racine USA to inherit her estranged and now dead father's funeral business. One, that despite not knowing much about and despite being in a severe debt, she decides ...more
Leslie Ray
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was tagged as a mystery but it is really a drama centered around Ilka, who comes from Copenhagen to inherit her estranged father's funeral business. There is some mystery as to his second wife and their 2 daughters (her 2 half sisters), but not really delved into. There are questions arising as to why her father left her this business after ignoring all her letters and any attempts at contact, with the business itself in trouble with the IRS and in serious debt.
Unfortunately, Ilka is not t
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
The Undertaker's Daughter is definitely something completely different from what I had expected when it comes to a Sara Blaedel book. For one thing, it did not feel like a thriller, more a mystery book. And, despite the serious subject did the book feel a lot more humorous than I had expected. You know the sad kind of humor when everything goes wrong, but in a funny kind of way. Like in this book when Ilka is out shopping for a coffin when the coffin that ass ordered wouldn't be delivered becaus ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Left to my own devices there's a reasonable probability I wouldn't ever have picked this book up. This is not in any way a reflection of the author, but more that mass market thrillers aren't really my preferred choice of reading material. However, I won the follow-up - Her Father's Secret - in a recent Goodreads Giveaway (THANK YOU Grand Central Publishing!!!), and since this book ends on a cliffhanger, and the 2nd book continues from that EXACT same moment, I figured it would be prudent to beg ...more
Cathy Cole
Jan 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I hadn't read very many pages of The Undertaker's Daughter before I began forming an intense dislike for Ilka, the main character. She must be a prime case of arrested development: her mother knows Ilka's father better than Ilka ever will, but she hares off to Wisconsin like a bratty teenager because her mother couldn't possibly know anything. She's full of plans on what she's going to do once she gets there, but what does she actually do? Locks herself in her room, ignoring everyone all the nex ...more
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
Ilka leaves her home country of Denmark and heads to Wisconsin, where the father she never really knew bequeathed her his funeral home. She's dumbfounded and overwhelmed as all this new responsibility is laid upon her. While trying to make her way through learning more about her father, trying to run a business she stupidly takes control over by not reading paperwork she signs arbitrarily and dealing with dead bodies left and right, she could very well lose her sanity in the process.

I've heard S
ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook
At times it was exciting but most of the story was either predictable or confusing. The writing itself was pretty good, especially as it was translated. This book was really different, I've never read one quite like it. Not a bad read but just really different and the ending is a cliffhanger...Thank goodness I have the other two books in the series! To be continued… ...more
Feb 04, 2018 added it
The first book in a new series by one of my favorite authors!

Forty-year-old Ilka Nichols Jensen travels from Denmark to Racine, Wisconsin, USA, when her estranged father dies and leaves her his business -- a funeral home. Ilka's life as a widow in Copenhagen was nice and peaceful, she took school portraits for a living, and her mom and partner were close by. A nice, uncomplicated life. She's quite shocked when she finds out that the father who had abandoned them when she was 7 years old had mad
Jul 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crime, arc, series
I received an advanced readers copy from Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Ilka Jensen was a Dutch school photographer in Copenhagen when she was summoned to Racine, Wisconsin to deal with her newly deceased father's estate and funeral business, which was in financial shambles. When a unidentified body is brought to the funeral home, it appears to the police as an unsolved murder. The crime itself was more of the back story to this first novel in a series by Blaedel, who ...more
Crime by the Book
Rating/review to come!! So so excited about this new series from Blaedel!!
Stephanie (earlgreyreads)
The Undertaker’s Daughter is the first book I’ve read by Danish crime writer Sara Blaedel. Ilka is in Denmark when she receives news that her father, whom she hasn’t seen or heard from since she was a young girl, has passed away in America. Ilka travels to the US with hopes of getting to know more about who her father was. There, she discovers that her father has left her his debt ridden, in trouble with the IRS, funeral home business. While attempting to save the business, Ilka comes across a m ...more
Sheela Kean
Mar 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
This was just not the book for me. There was no thrill, no suspense and the "mystery" wasn't really the focus of the story, it was just playing out in the background. I would say this is more of a mild drama, maybe even humor. I'm not sure if its because this is a translated novel but the writing felt very drawn out and unexciting and i rolled my eyes at the main character constantly, she seemed completely preposterous. a 40 year old woman, who hasn't seen her dad in 30 years comes to America fr ...more
Ken Fredette
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Racine Wisconsin is very close to where I live, a hop and a throw. I was blown away with her story about Ilka and her father hitting the road and divorcing her mother. I could see everything that happened and she explained herself pretty well. However every time she changed her mind something happened to change it back. I was impressed at how well she handled most situations with her, we do it this way in Denmark. Everything worked out with finding out who did what to whom except for the last le ...more
Sharon Huether
Ilka's father leaves her his funeral home business in America. She travels from Denmark to see what she inherited.

Her father left her and her mother over twenty years earlier. She just wanted to get to know what he was like, by taking over his business.

A nun helper was locked in a cold room, bodies disappeared, the IRS wanted money. A whole host of things, plus blackmail. To be continued in the next book.

This was the first book in the Ilka Jensen Series

I love this authors style of writing. Alwa
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. In Denmark, Ilka is a 40 year old widow who has a dependable job as a school portrait photographer. Over 30 years ago, her father ran a funeral home before he up and left the family wallowing in debt. She learns he has died in America and she is determined to go through his personal effects. So Ilka journeys to Racine, Wisconsin where she finds out he had established another funeral home and left it to her, although it is heavily in debt too. One of the bodies at the funeral home is a ...more
Luanne Ollivier
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Sara Blaedel has been called Denmark's 'Queen of Crime'. I've enjoyed her Louise Rick mysteries. Blaedel herself has moved to the US, and her newest novel mirrors that move.

In The Undertaker's Daughter, Dane Ilka Jensen inherits a funeral home from the father she hasn't seen in over thirty years. It's in Wisconsin, but she decides to travel to the US - perhaps she will learn more about her long absent father.

The book is set in and around the funeral home and funeral practices. This was a decided
Patricia Romero
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-thrillers
Blaedel introduces us to a new character, Ilke Jensen, living in Denmark, keeping up with her late husband's school photography business. A young widow, whose father left for America early on leaving her mother to handle the funeral business he ran.

When she must go to America when he dies to handle his affairs, she discovers he was also in the funeral business in Racine, Wisconsin. Now she must clear his debts and decide if she will sell or not. And it is obvious her step-mother and half sisters
Lady Delacour
Intrigue drew me
to this first story
in a trilogy about an
inherited funeral home.
I found it enjoyable,
somewhat gross,
with sprinkles of humor,
as well as educational.
Listened with TTS.
Not Clean, fades to black.
Foul Language.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sara Blaedel takes a break from her Louise Rick series by bringing Denamrk to the U. S., and also introduces a new character.

Ilka Jensen finds herself the owner of her late father's funeral home in Racine, Wisconsin. While trying to decide to keep the business or not, Ilka finds herself pulled into a murder with ties to a long ago tragedy and secrets galore.

A character driven story line and an awesome beginning to this promising new series.

Must add to your to read list!
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 and 1 / 2 stars

At age forty, Ilka inherits her father’s funeral business in Racine, Wisconsin. She travels from Copenhagen to take over the business.

Although Ilka has some good memories of her childhood and her father when she was a young girl, he did abandon her mother and Ilka when she was seven-years old.

However, Ilka doesn’t like herself very well. She sleeps around with unknown men to “release stress.” There was too much of this in the book. It was a major determent to my liking the boo
Donna Hines
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Ilka Nichols our main character was going on fine until all hell broke loose when the patriarch of the family dies.
Her father walked out three decades earlier yet here she is in his will with his funeral home?!
Oh and did I fail to mention it's nowhere near Copenhagen but rather Wiscounsin!
Ok, run that by me again?
Yes, well you see she wants to desperately have that lost connection replaced with anything of value and so what better way than to connect with his past.
What could go wrong...
Ok se
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a poorly written book with a somewhat offensive plot that ends on a cliffhanger. Most of the book is about how messed up the US funeral system is, which was not a topic that I was that interested in. The main character is somewhat cold and takes advantage of others. (view spoiler) ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was not at all what the back said. The murder mystery was like a side story and as far as I can tell after finishing the book, totally unrelated to her dad. Maybe it picks up in the second book? But basically nothing happened except a woman taking over her as an undertaker, which at times got too detailed. The ending was a total piss off "to be continued.." I read 330 pages of blah ho-hum life with no interesting discoveries about her father for that. I was really hoping I'd like it an ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nordic, first-reads
I enjoyed the Blaedel books I've read previously, so I was pleased to win the Goodreads Giveaway for The Undertaker's Daughter. I didn't much care for this first of a new series. This was a mystery writer leaving the genre behind. There was a cold case and a new murder victim in this book but they were on the fringes of the story, the solving took place by the police while Ilka's tale took place. Not a very likable character surrounded by other not very likable characters, meh. ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Crackling with suspense, atmosphere, and drama.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: partner-read
Thanks to Grand Central Pub for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

This was my introduction to Sara Blaedel and I was no disappointed! THE UNDERTAKER'S DAUGHTER is the start of a new series, and from what I've heard is a little slower paced than her other books. So if you're a Blaedel fan, then keep that in mind going into this one!

Ilka Nicholas Jensen is a widowed school portrait photographer in her forties. She lives a quiet life in Copenhagen, but everything gets disrupted wh
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a new series from Danish crime fiction writer Sara Blaedel which had me very excited. I love that it’s an entirely different kind of character, a woman who inherits a funeral home. I’m surprised actually that more crime fiction writers don't write about this somewhat creepy and macabre world—at least none I'm familiar with. This new series isn’t set in Blaedel’s native Denmark but in Racine, Wisconsin so I was eager to see how she tackled the U.S. small town setting.

It’s slower-paced st
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Ilka has not heard from her father for over 32 years so she is quite surprised when she learns that she has inherited his funeral home in Racine Wisconsin. She travels from her home in Copenhagen to Racine to settle her interests but things are not as simple as she had hoped. The business is deeply in dept and it looks as if she must sell quickly. However that is not the only problem as a series of unfortunate events indicates that there is much more going on than meets the eye.

The mystery is a
Hannelore Cheney
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Thank you Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for the eARC.
Having read the excellent Louise Rick series, I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, it was disappointing. Not much of a mystery, more the tale of a dysfunctional family, I couldn't really warm up to the protagonist, Ilka Jensen. Her father abandoned her and her mother when she was 7, and when he passes away in Wisconsin, she flies there to find out she has inherited his funeral home. Yes, she had a sad childhood, b
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Sara Blaedel is the author of the #1 international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. Her books are published in thirty-seven countries. In 2014 Sara was voted Denmark’s most popular novelist for the fourth time. She is also a recipient of the Golden Laurel, Denmark’s most prestigious literary award.

In 2016 she published the first book "The Undertakers Daughter" in a new trilogy

Other books in the series

Ilka Jensen (3 books)
  • Her Father's Secret (Ilka Jensen, #2)
  • The Third Sister

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