Death is not the end. For Grace McGill, it’s only the beginning.
When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.
When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.
I’m sure everyone’s heard at least one story about someone who was found dead in their home for quite some time, months even. Their absence was not remarked upon by family, friends, not even their neighbours. How sad is that? Well the last person that takes note of them is the woman who cleans up after they are gone, it’s Grace Mc Gill, death cleaner.
Grace has a 10-step plan each time she needs to carry out a deep clean and it’s very thorough. Grace takes the reader (once or twice) through what happens after bodies start to decompose and how she needs to clean their final resting place. It’s a unique approach, it fascinated me and Grace is quite unique (and fascinating) as well. A little quirky right from the beginning maybe, because she lives alone with her cat George, thus leading a similar life to the people she cleans up after, and because she makes dioramas of the rooms the people who died were found in, right till the smallest detail. She is also at the beck and call of her father who’s an ugly drunk most of the time. They don’t seem to be able to stand each other so it was a real mystery to me why she didn’t just ignore his calls. There’s a lot more to be discovered about Grace and her family history but that would be spoiling things too soon.
At one house she finds newspapers of the same day but for different years and Grace packs them up with a few other mementos of the deceased to give to his next of kin, only to start wondering about the significance of the date of the papers once home. She also finds the strangest little thing next to his pillow, a little dried daisy. It won’t be the only time she’ll find this little flower either, but what does it mean and who left it there?
I found the investigation about Thomas Agnew’s past and the secret he took with him to his grave a little slow going in the first half of the novel, nobody wants to talk, everybody’s angry at her for asking questions and Grace walks around in the footsteps of another person without much result at first (I know I’m impatient!) but the significance of the daisy sure made up for it. This side of the story was so cleverly put together and I had not seen this coming at all.
Grace cares about the lonely people, the ones lying in their homes all alone, their absence unnoticed. Grace is a remarkable character, determined to solve a 56 year old secret that leads her to Bute and to age-old conspiracies. She’s a person I won’t easily forget, especially with the ending the author had in store for her, it was utterly fitting even though I felt a bit sadness about it as well.
The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill might be a little bit of a macabre read, but don’t let that put you off because it’s worth it! If you don’t mind your reads more on the darker side then make sure to put this one on the list, it’s so unique!
I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.