Set in 1895, when life was hard and death was not for amateurs, Undertakers, Harlots and Other Odd Bodies is a galloping gaslit tale of Victorian incompetence, set on the least fortunate riverbank in Maryland. Women and men of motley descent vie for independence while learning their trades the hard way. Heartbreaking and hilarious at turns, its unreasonably hopeful characters wend their way toward the new century and a new kind of home, finding friendship in a place where they have little reason to expect it. The undertakers strive to gain the trust of a very un-trustworthy clientele, while avoiding the attention of casually corrupt authorities and the possibility of burying anyone ahead of time. Led by a woman who yearns to claim her own profession, they cater to anyone who will have them, heedless of danger or payment. They just might find fortune in this most unlucky place. Or not.
Sometimes humorous, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes deeply sad and moving — such are the biographies of fifteen Texas bad girls. Husband killers, run-of-the-mill murderers, whorehouse madams, prostitutes, gamblers, bank robbers, floozies — each contributes immeasurably to a rowdy, ribald history that dates from the state's earliest settlers to yesterday's biggest news story.