Poppin' A Cold One [NOOK Book]

Overview

Finn Coffee's scored the perfect job, in the perfect town, with the perfect girlfriend, and the perfect boss. What could go wrong?

Funny you should ask . . .

From golf balls to corpses, Finn Coffee likes things to go neatly underground. When he lands a job after graduating from mortuary school with a prestigious funeral home in the glittery casino town of Treasure Coast, Mississippi, the perfect setup turns sour once Finn discovers his ...

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Poppin' A Cold One

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Overview

Finn Coffee's scored the perfect job, in the perfect town, with the perfect girlfriend, and the perfect boss. What could go wrong?

Funny you should ask . . .

From golf balls to corpses, Finn Coffee likes things to go neatly underground. When he lands a job after graduating from mortuary school with a prestigious funeral home in the glittery casino town of Treasure Coast, Mississippi, the perfect setup turns sour once Finn discovers his co-worker Brad Sheepcake has been making movies on the side-starring attractive ingénues with a singular talent: they're dead. Brad's sideline-necro-porn-is so successful, a ruthless crime syndicate muscles in on the action. Problem is, there aren't enough pretty girls dying fast enough to meet the demand. To speed up the process, hotties in Treasure Coast start disappearing - including a New Orleans heiress. Enter Crescent City PI Kip Quigley, hired to find the girl. Kip might look like a grown-up Hardy Boy, but he was fired from the NOLA police department for excessive violence and he's lost patience with a stupid world. During his investigation, he befriends Finn. And when the mobsters kidnap Finn's girlfriend, Polly Whitlock, to ensure he keeps his mouth shut, Kip must widen his scope to take on the entire Dixie Mafia and a lunatic former Southern rock musician. Otherwise, Polly might well become the the star of the mob's next film - The Naked and the Dead.Because poppin' a cold one ain't always about beer . . .

Rick Koster is a native Texan who lives in New England with his wife, the writer Eileen Jenkins, their Catahoula Leopard Dog, Gumbo, and the spirits of the late, great greyhounds, Moosie and Puppy Brown. Poppin' a Cold One is his first novel. He cannot promise it will be his last.

"Sick, twisted, and very funny. Think Six Feet Under meets the Sopranos." -Ace Atkins "Hilariously obscene! ...as beautifully twisted as anything John Waters ever dreamed up, yet Koster's smooth command of voice and character puts him right up there with the likes of Tarantino and Elmore Leonard. Crime fiction never felt so deliciously dirty."-Joe McKinney, author of Dead City and Mutated

106,894 Words

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  • Poppin' A Cold One
    Poppin' A Cold One  

Editorial Reviews

The New London Day
If Poppin' a Cold One were a TV show or movie, it would come with one of those parental guidance warnings: Adult situations. Nudity. Violence. Except there's no category that comes even remotely close to explaining what this book is about. The title is a sly reference to the aberrant behavior that's the center of this mock-horror mystery: necrophilia. And lest you think Koster has tried to outdo Thomas Harris, creator of the flesh-eating Hannibal Lector, in the taboo-breaking department, consider this: This is necrophilia horror that's riotously funny.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601830265
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 12/20/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 493,880
  • File size: 1,022 KB

Read an Excerpt

POPPIN' A COLD ONE


By RICK KOSTER

eKENSINGTON BOOKS

Copyright © 2012 Rick Koster
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60183-026-5


Chapter One

Austin, Texas

Finn Coffee paused and gripped the podium in the Paice and Paice Funeral Home chapel, smiling out at his fellow classmates and sundry family and friends. It was part of the commencement exercises for the graduating seniors at South Austin Mortuary Science School, and Finn, for reasons still not clear to him, had been selected by the faculty to deliver the student address.

His eyes flickered over the multitude, most of whom appeared to be confused, if not shocked, by his remarks, and lingered for a moment on his best friend, Craig Paice, who grinned at him. Craig, a legacy by virtue of the fact that his father was president of the school and co-owner of Paice and Paice Funeral Home, was clearly trying not to laugh. Finn had just shared an anecdote about an improvisatory Restorative Art lab exercise where he and Craig had used clown makeup to transform the face of a deceased wino into a remarkable likeness of Heath Ledger as the Joker.

"We had no way of knowing at the time," Finn had said, shaking his head in wonder, "that only weeks later Heath Ledger himself would be dead—and somewhere, some lucky funeral director was probably trying a similar makeup experiment on Heath himself! Awesome!"

In the back of the room, a grim older woman, wearing a yellow pillbox hat that made it seem she was balancing a giant butterscotch Lifesaver on her head, gasped and harrumphed, and now the subsequent silence was getting a bit pregnant.

In the front row, Mindy Holcomb, the class valedictorian, stared at Finn with icy rage. She hated Craig and Finn with the sort of passion associated with saber-brandishing fatwas. Finn wasn't quite sure why they'd earned her enmity, but that they were both a few years older than the rest of the class—each pushing thirty—and yet acted with complete immaturity at all times might have had something to do with it. Whatever, Mindy reminded them of one of those large women who always end up as Jeopardy contestants, telling Alex, during the get-to-know-you segment, that her hobby was potted plants.

From the podium, Finn winked at her, reached up just under his mortarboard, and lightly scratched his white-blond hair. A trim six-two, with celery green eyes and sharp-angled Scandinavian bone structure, Finn was often presumed by women to be someone important; someone, they hoped, who would escort them to exotic ski lodges in a shark-shaped convertible. But there was something subtly goofy about his demeanor that eventually contrasted with anything "hip" his looks might otherwise have suggested. It was a curious dichotomy that had short-circuited more than one relationship he'd felt good about.

Now he was winding into the finale of his speech. He said, "And so, my fellow embalmers, I wish each of you the best and I hope yours will be a prosperous and fulfilling journey. Go South Austin Mortuary Science School! If we had a mascot—you know, Bears or Crusaders or whatever, perhaps the Embalmers, though that's probably a bit predictable—I'd lead a cheer. If we had an alma mater, I would at this point lead you in a sing-along. Instead, I'll just say thankee and close with a line from an old Irish funeral home blessing: 'May the road rise up to meet you ... and may it be littered with corpses that don't smell too bad and weren't chopped up by boat propellers!'"

Craig hopped immediately to his feet, whooping and clapping heartily in the sort of standing ovation you'd expect at a Willie Nelson picnic from a sunburned enthusiast about three minutes from a meth OD. Craig was a towering former University of Texas defensive lineman with a cherub's face and thick brown hair parted casually on one side. His allegiance to UT was documented in the school's steer logo, tattooed on his left forearm. Behind super-hip tortoise shell glasses, his eyes, a gleaming and obscure blue color you'd find hidden away in the jumbo Crayola box, always seemed to telegraph the next of an endless supply of his crafty punch lines. He put two fingers to his mouth and blew a train whistle.

Mindy harrumphed and stomped out, and Finn imagined water glasses shaking on tables. The rest of the crowd reaction consisted of tepid applause and odd moans, like people in a cooking show audience expecting to sample fresh-baked pies, only to watch in horror as the chef suddenly drags the blood-speckled corpse of a doe onto the set and starts to field-dress it with a church key.

Moments later, in a small room just off the sanctuary, Dr. R. Leo Paice was pouring Shiner Bock beers into frosted mugs for Craig and Finn. He sighed wearily, sipped from a cut crystal glass of Johnny Walker Blue, and said, "Goddamn, Finn, I don't know what the hell you were doing up there. I thought half the faculty was gonna explode. Just pop like balloons. Not to mention the parents. Hell, some of 'em still owe me tuition checks."

Finn took a deep and quenching pull on his beer and shrugged. "Sorry, sir. You told me to try to lighten it up a little. Guess I went too far."

"Well, don't be too hard on yourself," Dr. Paice said. He was a tall man with an impressive surf of slicked-back brown hair who looked more like a country gospel singer than an undertaker. "I'da paid good money to see that one old bag, that Aunt Bee–looking woman in the stupid yellow hat, have a stroke. And you nearly pulled it off, I'd say."

Finn and Craig glanced at each other, grinning. Dr. Paice continued, "Your eloquent farewell notwithstanding—and I know you guys are in a hurry to get to the grad party—Craig and I did want to make one final offer to keep you here, Finn."

Finn held his beer up in toast. "Guys, guys ... Y'all are the best. You know that." He shook his head. "But I've gotta do this."

The idea all along had been that, once Craig and Finn graduated, they'd join Paice and Paice Funeral Home. Dr. Paice and his brother and partner, Willis, were doing extremely well and were hoping to open a new home in East Austin, a part of town where folks of Spanish heritage, enamored of gang violence, seemed to die at a very lucrative rate. There was plenty of room for both Craig and Finn.

Dr. Paice said, "We'll give you a company car and I'll sweeten the deal with a membership to Barton Creek. There are ex-senators who can't get in that sumbitch."

Finn grinned. "Democrats, right? And the company car's a hearse, right?"

Wiping beer foam from his lips, Craig said, "Yeah, but your choice of color, though. Yellow. Mauve ..."

Finn thought a moment. "Plaid?" He was actually torn about leaving, but the fact was he was about half-ass in love with an amazing woman in Treasure Coast, Mississippi.

The previous fall, he had attended the wedding of a distant relative in Biloxi and met one of the bridesmaids, Polly Whitlock. Wham! She had the face of a pale angel, whirlwind black hair, and a ripe, all-natural body, loved surfing and beach volleyball, but also demonstrated an affection for casually Goth clothing and makeup. As Craig was fond of saying, "She woulda been head cheerleader at Morrissey High School."

It had been feverish lust at first sight and, over a few subsequent return visits and one trip wherein Polly had come to Austin, the relationship was starting to resemble one enjoyed by characters in a Hallmark Network Christmas special, with Finn in the role normally played by Zac Efron.

Then the plot thickened. The director of a funeral home in Treasure Coast, Morris Turpin, met Dr. Paice at a casket trade show. During an impromptu golf outing—hastily conceived when neither of them could endure even one more minute of a presentation of coffins painted to look like the characters on Jersey Shore—Morris Turpin confided two things to Dr. Paice: (1) His entire life was dedicated to winning the Southeastern Funeral Directors Association's annual best-ball golf tournament; and (2) if he didn't hurry and find a replacement for one of his recently retired embalmers, Morris might actually have to work at his own funeral home.

While Dr. Paice didn't particularly want to lose Finn, who was basically like a second son, it was also true he understood Finn and Polly were decidedly serious about one another. And since she successfully owned a book/candle shop in Treasure Coast, the opening at the Turpin Funeral Home sounded ideal to utilize Finn's skills.

Indeed, Finn was a former All-American golfer at Tulane who'd played seven years on the PGA's Nationwide tour, a minor league preparatory circuit that had supplied many players to the PGA. Obviously, he'd never made the jump, but he seemed custom-ordered to help Morris Turpin realize his dream of winning the best-ball tourney. Just because Finn hadn't ended up with Tiger and Lefty and Rory and Vijay on the big tour didn't mean he wasn't still a true badass.

And if it didn't work out in Mississippi, for whatever romantic or professional reasons? Well, it was understood Finn could always come back.

There was a light knock on the door and Darla Clark, one of the administrative assistants at Paice and Paice, stuck her head in the door. "Something for Finn. You got a fan, honeybunch."

She entered with a huge gift basket festooned with magnolias and set it heavily on an ornate white side table. Positioned delicately among the blooms were bottles of hot sauce, a big vacuum-sealed bag of Tupelo Joey's Finest Oak-Smoked Beef Jerky, a postcard with Eli and Archie Manning wearing Ole Miss football jerseys, and a twenty-two-ounce can of Happy Confederate Lager. There was also a small state flag and a placard that said, "Welcome to Mississippi!"

"Wow! Thanks, Darla," Finn said.

"From Polly?" Craig asked.

"Probably." She was at a trade show in Atlanta she'd booked over a year before and couldn't miss to attend the graduation ceremony. Finn opened a small envelope. He read the message aloud:

"Babe: Sorry again I couldn't be there to hear your speech. I'm sure you kicked ass, and I hope you used that anecdote I told you about from Marley and Me, where he takes the dog to get euthanized. That part's funny as hell. I'll see you when you get here. Drive safe. Mississippi troopers are teddy bears! Oh, congrats on the diploma. Finally! Now you can make something of yourself! Give Craig and Doc Paice my love.

Polly"

He laughed and looked up. "Amazing."

Craig slapped him on the shoulder. "She's awesome, dude."

Dr. Paice sighed. "Helluva girl, son. You're gonna like it down there. Even if we're gonna miss ya big."

Finn nodded and swallowed. "I'll miss y'all, too."

Hovering discreetly, Darla, who had been a large woman for several years, timidly asked, "Can we, uh, open that jerky?"

Chapter Two

New Orleans, Louisiana

It was Finn Coffee's first official day as a licensed funeral director, and he stepped back from his golf ball and used his arm to wipe sweat from his forehead. He was about ninety yards from the pin on the fourteenth fairway at Orleans Parish Country Club. Several yards back, deep in the left rough, which was basically a swamp, some guy named Jake Bonnard, of Delafose Funeral Home in Lafayette, was looking for his ball. His partner had already hit it out of bounds. Since this was a two-man best-ball gig, Finn might have to wait a while before his next shot.

He and Morris were playing in the official golf tournament of the Louisiana State Funeral Directors Jubilee and Job Fair. Yes, the Turpin Home was in Mississippi, but it was so close to New Orleans that they routinely got business from natives who'd moved to the Crescent City. And died.

In fact, Finn hadn't even been to Treasure Coast yet. His belongings were in the Jeep, locked up securely, he hoped, in the parking garage at the Hotel Monteleone in the Quarter, the facility hosting the convention.

Finn would drive on to Treasure Coast the next morning, which was perfect. Polly was getting back from her trip late this afternoon, and they'd rendezvous tomorrow. Set up a life together. Finn was nervous, for sure; but it was also going to be great.

In the meantime, as he waited for Jake to find his ball, he plucked a stalk of grass and chewed it, eyeing his shot reflectively. An easy wedge, up and down, and birderoo. During his days at Tulane, he'd played this course dozens of times. He remembered every sand trap and water hazard, the wind patterns coming off the river, and the bend of the fescue on the greens as though he'd designed the sumbitch himself.

He pinched the shoulder of his white golf shirt and loosened it from his sweat-dotted skin for a moment. He also hadn't forgotten how stinkin' hot and humid it was in NOLA during June. Or the omnipresent, cottony haze that seemed to hover in the air like germs on a microscope slide. Or the fuckin' mosquitoes! One buzzed by his head. It sounded like Black Hawk Down.

"Ol' son! You gonna hit a wedge here?" Morris Turpin, Finn's playing partner and boss, was sitting in his customized golf cart, which he'd brought with him from Treasure Coast on the back of a truck, and which—natch—was built to look like a miniature hearse. Seriously. There was an actual casket in the back, which turned out to be a full bar when you opened the lid. It was the sort of thing that would have embarrassed the entire cast of Caddyshack, but for some reason, it worked perfectly for Morris.

Back in Treasure Coast, Morris hired his own galleries from the homeless and/or drunks and/or illegals. They followed him faithfully through eighteen holes every time he played, an Arnie's Army of the Lost and Thirsty, dutifully applauding every shot. At the end of the round, they were paid off in cheap wine or malt liquor—their choice.

Morris was about six-five and husky-going-to-fat, a florid dude in his early fifties with charcoal, widow-peaked hair typically swept back like Dracula. Today, he wore a straw planter's hat, white linen slacks with tiny swordfish embroidered all over, and a shirt with a Titleist logo that was the precise color of the gold chain bracelet around his left wrist. The hand attached to the wrist held an industrial-sized Bloody Mary with a stalk of pickled green bean sticking out. As far as Finn could remember, this was about Bloody Mary number four—and it was only 11 a.m. Also, as far as Finn could tell, the vodka had no discernible effect on Morris whatsoever. This impressed Finn mightily.

The wedge question was sort of odd, though. Finn shrugged and looked at the green. Even if your entire golf experience had taken place at Putt-Putt, it was pretty obvious this was a wedge shot. And Morris, who played to a 12 handicap and had already torqued his wedge shot well short of the green, would certainly know that.

Finn said, "A wedge? Is that a perfunctory question? Cause, yeah, I sorta was. Unless you know something I don't." He wiped more sweat. "Like, are we in hell and is the green a fucking mirage?"

Though Finn had only played with Morris a few times, while the original job negotiations were going on, the two had hit it off well and there was an easy, natural humor between them. Morris seemed to have zero boss/worker-style attitude at all.

Finn dug the instant camaraderie, but he also worried about his cushion gig at the Turpin Home in the context of Brad Sheepcake, some regally bred Ivy League guy who'd been with Morris for three or four years. For example, while Finn was on the golf course, living it up in New Orleans, Brad was holding down the fort back at the funeral home.

"Are you sure Brad's okay with this?" Finn had asked Morris the question countless times. He'd even asked Brad the question, back during the formal interview in March.

"Dude, trust me," Brad had laughed, clapping Finn familiarly on the shoulder. "I'm from New England. I'd melt in this heat. You guys play all the golf you want. I'm perfectly happy inside. And what's more refrigerated than a funeral home?"

Morris also reassured Finn. "Brad's a true corpse guy," he'd said, shaking his head. "Spooky fucker. I mean, he's a handsome kid; seems to do well with the ladies and so on. But I dunno. It's like he doesn't want to leave work. He likes being in the embalming room." Morris shuddered. As a guy who'd inherited the family business and made the best of it, Morris hated funerals.

Finn thought about it. Since he was the new guy, it would typically have been his responsibility to move into the on-site apartment on the top floor of the mortuary. That way, he could handle all of the middle-of-the-night emergency calls. Bottom of the corporate ladder and all that.

But Brad had asked—politely, of course—if he could just go ahead and keep staying in the apartment. He knew Finn had a girlfriend, he said, and Brad was single with no ties and had little interest in actually going through the proctologic exam known as apartment hunting.

Finn, obviously, was delighted to be able to move right in with Polly, and appreciated Brad's offer. At the same time, he thought to himself that there was something a little too weird about Brad's enthusiasm over living in a funeral home.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from POPPIN' A COLD ONE by RICK KOSTER Copyright © 2012 by Rick Koster. Excerpted by permission of eKENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 15, 2013

    It's definitely dark, but once you get past the premise, it's qu

    It's definitely dark, but once you get past the premise, it's quite funny.   Unfortunately, some of the characters seem to just get tossed aside as a convenience.  Can't think of how to do anything more with this character? Just kill him off.  The climax feels rushed, and then the book ends -  there's not a whit of denouement..

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Darkly comical

    This one's not for the squeamish readers, but I like a dark read every now and then so I really enjoyed it. The story and characters pull you in, but maybe what I loved most was the author's commentary of how crazed society has become from too much junk food, junkier TV and the rabid (and undeserved) worship of celebrities, most of whom have zero talent and basically get famous (and rich!) by exploiting themselves and others. Highly recommend this novel if you appreciate a deep plot (you see what I did there, right?) and are sick of the whole "reality" TV culture.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2013

    Snowhawk

    May i please join

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2013

    Swirlingkit

    Yeah u may join

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2013

    Owlmist

    "Um, you accept cats who have been crossbred with an owl? My dad was an owl and my mother was a cat. Twolegs forced them to mate, and came up with me. They stuck this odd thing on my paw..." she says, looking down at the metal ring attatched to her front paw. A red light flashed at each of owlmists motions.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    Ferntail

    Ferntail clawed at the badger's eyes, her claws filling with coarse black fur. The badger shook its head, swiping at Ferntail with a heavy paw. Ferntail leaped away, and Oakbark bit down on its ear to distract it. The badger roared and flung Oakbark away, where he landed with a sickening thud. Shadeleap crept up to him, and pressed cobwebs on his wounds. Ferntail nodded in gratitude and spat at the badger. The badger charged Ferntail, jaws snapping by her neck. Ferntail screeched as the badger scored its claws on her face, leaving three bleeding gashes running across her face. Blood filled Ferntail's gaze and she staggered, disoriented, as she braced herself for the next attack. But the badger had been attacked by Oakbark, who was swiping deftly at its face, snarling. The badger shook its massive head and backed away, retreating back into the forest.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    Thunderstr

    Back

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Hard to make up my mind about this one. The writing is good, bu

    Hard to make up my mind about this one. The writing is good, but the story is awful, and the ending abrupt. Parts are excessively drawn out and slow, but others are too sketchy. I had a hard time getting into the book and had to force myself to keep reading; I don't like to give up on a book once I start. It did get better for a while, then I disliked it again and couldn't wait to be done, and then it got a bit better. Overall, I would say don't waste your time.

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  • Posted April 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    good, but a little graphic

    and I haven't even gotten to a murder yet.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Not good...

    This book was so difficult for me to get into. I couldn't get past the first chapter. It was so convoluted with heavy descriptions that I just couldn't follow it. That being said I was looking for a very light read at the time so maybe that is why I couldn't get into it. :(

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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