Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Review: A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry (Family Skeleton Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, decent mystery
Cons: Mystery hits a few too many road blocks along the way
The Bottom Line:
Family skeleton
Wonders why he was murdered
Creative, fun start

Make no Bones about It, This is a Good Debut

As a general rule, I stay away from supernatural themed books, but something about the Family Skeleton series drew me.  I think it was the idea of a wise cracking skeleton as a side kick/partner in crime solving.  Either way, I bought A Skeleton in the Family and then let it sit on my To Be Read Mountain Range for a while.  Fortunately, I dusted it off because I enjoyed this debut.

Georgia Thackery has come home with her teenage daughter in tow.  As an adjunct professor, she goes where the jobs are, and right now the jobs are at McQuaid University, where her parents teach.  They are currently on sabbatical, so Georgia and Madison move into their house.  This also means reconnecting with Sid, Georgia’s best friend.  Oh yeah, and Sid happens to be a skeleton.  He walks and talks.  No one quite knows why or how he is; they’ve just learned to live with it.

Since he would scare people, Sid doesn’t leave the house much, but an anime convention proves the perfect opportunity for him to get outside.  While in his elaborate costume, he sees a face he recognizes from the time he was alive.  Suddenly, he begins to wonder about his life before joining the Thackery family.  He’s never had memories of who he was when he was living, and before now hasn’t really cared.  Georgia agrees to help him learn about his past, and they quickly learn that Sid was murdered.  Since Sid had been with the family for 30 years, the pair realize they have a cold case on their hands.  Can they solve it?  Can they even figure out who Sid was before?

The nature of the story here sets up a different sort of plot than those in a normal cozy.  As you know, I enjoy those different plots because it gives the book an added amount of spice.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work out as nicely as I had hoped.  There are a lot of dead ends along the way, and I just didn’t feel like it was moving forward much.  Fortunately, things definitely pick up at the end, and I felt very satisfied with the conclusion.  Maybe part my problem with the pacing was the time it took to set up the unusual aspect of the story (you know, Sid), so this might be something that goes away in future books.

The characters were great, and yes, I’m including Sid in that.  He may be a skeleton, but he has a strong personality, and it is easy to see the bond between him and Georgia.  As our narrator, Georgia is also a wonderful character, and I loved her.  The supporting players are equally as strong, with some it is easy to despise.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of them again in later books.

Over the course of the book, we get about every bone pun you can think of, usually coming from Sid, occasionally coming from Georgia.  They do help lighten the mood, and I always love a good pun.  I’m not sure I would say this book rises to the level of a humorous cozy, but I will never complain at all about a good pun.

While I do think the pacing of the book could have been better, A Skeleton in the Family is an enjoyable read.  I’m definitely planning on visiting Georgia and Sid again to seeing what other mystery and mischief they can get into.

Check out the rest of the Family Skeleton Mysteries in order.

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