Friday, February 14, 2014

A Skeleton In the Family

Author:  Leigh Perry
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback; Ebook; Audible
ISBN: 9780425255841
Berkley Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $7.99 Amazon
September 3, 2013
Five Stars

Georgia Thackery and her daughter, Madison, move back home when she gets a job at McQuaid college as an adjunct professor.  Her parents are both full professors there, and have decided to go on a sabbatical for several months, leaving Georgia and Madison the full use of their home while they are away.  Unfortunately, they have a permanent roommate, Sid.  Sid is a skeleton.  A real skeleton.  He walks, talks, and has lived in the attic of the Thackery home since Georgia and her sister, Deborah, were children. 
 One day he convinces Georgia to let him leave the house with her and Madison to go to an Anime convention dressed as one of the characters.  It is there that he sees a woman from his past, and soon decides that he wants to find out how he died-and when-and asks Georgia's help.  But pretty soon things begin to happen that convince Georgia that Sid didn't die in the usual way-he was murdered-and the murderer may be looking for Sid just the same as Sid is looking to find out who killed him.
I picked up this book because of its title, which was an unusual premise: you read about ghosts and such, but how often do you read about skeletons?  Exactly.  So the book had me hooked right from the title.  Which is a good thing in my view.  I was hoping that everything else about it would be just as good, and I am glad to say that I was not disappointed.
Sid is a skeleton who lives in Georgia Thackery's parents' home.  He has lived there some thirty odd years, ever since he saved the life of Georgia when she was only six.  He has become Georgia's best friend, and she can't imagine being without him.  Her sister Deborah, however, has ceased talking to him altogether, convincing herself that he doesn't exist (even though she can see and hear him).  And Sid, for his part, refuses to allow Georgia to tell her own daughter Madison of his existence, so Georgia can only spend time with him when Madison is either out of the house or asleep, which turns out to be tricky.
Finding out that Madison is very into anime, Sid convinces Georgia - reluctantly - to allow him to come along to the convention dressed as one of the anime characters; and it is while there that he sees a woman who triggers memories of when he was alive.  Since Georgia has just met a reporter who is working part-time at the college, she asks to see the photos he took at the convention, and manages to track the woman down.
Unfortunately, I can't reveal any more of the book, because to do so would be nothing more than spoilers for what happens after this.  Believe me, though, when I tell you that every event after this initial discovery ties into what happened to Sid.  It begins with the woman - and I can tell you that she is a professor herself - and spirals into a series of events that pull Sid and Georgia deeper into the mystery surrounding his death.  It is a well-woven tale that surprised even me, given the subject.  Sid is humorous, and his interactions with Georgia are such that it is entirely believable that these two could have been friends for years.
The only thing that bothered me was the fact that I felt Georgia showed little emotion for anyone outside of Sid or Madison.  There was a love interest of sorts, but I never felt that there was any real connection between the two of them, although that may have been deliberate on the author's part.  At any rate, I think we'll be seeing more of Ms. Perry, and I am grateful for that.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lending a Paw

Author:  Laurie Cass
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars
Minnie Hamilton is a librarian in Chilson, Michigan.  She has convinced the library to purchase a bookmobile - with the help of an extremely large donation from a resident, Stan Larabee - and, of course, as the library's assistant director, she is the one who will be driving the bookmobile from location to location.
She also has a 'assistant' in her voyages; a cat named Eddie that followed her home one day and insists on going everywhere she does, especially when she doesn't want him to.  When he sneaked aboard the bookmobile one day, she decided to make the best of the situation and determined it would be his last trip with her.  But not only did the town's residents take to the little guy, he darted out the door when they were at a stop, and when Minnie chased after him, he led her right to the dead body of a local. 
At first she is going to let the police handle the investigation, but Eddie seems determined to keep her on the case, and when an employee at the library, Holly, believes she is the main suspect, she asks Minnie to help her find the real killer. 
I wanted to read this book because it had two things going for it that I really love - books and cats.  So for me, it had already started out well and I was hoping not to be disappointed.  I was happy to find that for the most part, I wasn't.  Eddie was quite a character, and being a cat owner myself, I can relate to some of his antics.  I enjoyed the fact that throughout the book Minnie began to grow closer to him, which, as all pet owners know, you can't help but do.
We have a basic description of Minnie - dark hair and eyes, short - but that's about it.  We also know that she moved to Chilson three years ago at the age of 33 when she received her degree in Library Science.  So she's 36, and one would think she had a previous life before moving, but we never learn much about it.  Only that in the summer she lives on a houseboat, and in the winter she lives with her Aunt Frances, who owns a boarding house (which is another story in itself).

It did seem odd to me that when she was out on a date everyone in town (at least everyone we learned about in the book) seemed to be out and about also and stopped to say 'hi' to her.  It was sort of funny, but also rather unbelievable.  The other thing was that even though I love cats, everyone in this town wants to be with Eddie.  I started to get the feeling that there were no other cats anywhere around this area. 

There were times I felt that the book should have been titled 'Eddie the Psychic Cat,' because he seemed to know everything that was going on, and I felt that unless the dead man were his owner, he probably wouldn't have run as far as he did to find the body (although I will concede it is possible) and gave Minnie so many clues that he practically solved the murder by himself.  Aside from that, the mystery was very good.  I'm pretty good at figuring out mysteries, but the murderer wasn't expected.  The thing is, even though a lot of people didn't like the man, I didn't feel that any of them had reason enough to kill him.  So I really didn't know why or who the murderer was, which is a good thing, because it keeps you interested along the way.  In the end, I would have liked to have seen more resolution with her Aunt Frances and her guests, but perhaps Ms. Cass is saving that for the next book.

Revenge Is Sweet (Vintage Sweets Mysteries Book 1)

Author:  Kaye George Genre:   Mystery Trade Paperback; Digital Book ISBN #:  9781516105434 Lyrical Underground 193 Pages $14.36; $3.9...