My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 stars to Leigh Perry‘s The Skeleton Haunts a House, her third release in the Family Skeleton Mystery series. Fans of the author and this cozy mystery series will not be disappointed with the expansion of the cast of characters, college setting and multiple sub-plots.
It’s Halloween on the McQuaid College campus in this small Massachusetts town and the Thackeray family is managing this year’s Haunted House. Unfortunately, someone is murdered during one of the exhibitions and at first look, there are very few obvious clues. As Georgia and Sid, the not-so-dead skeleton that’s been a member of her family for the last 30 years, investigate, they stumble upon a McQuaid family secret that could return ownership of a large piece of the college’s campus back to the McQuaid family. When a missing heir is discovered, Georgia and Sid suddenly find too many plausible suspects but soon realize nothing is what it seems. Georgia’s parents return early from their sabbatical and assume responsibility for a wayward student whose been trying to close on her dissertaton to earn a PhD. Then Georgia begins dating a fellow adjunct who turns out to be part of a carnie family who has been losing business due to the college’s Haunted House. Her life just gets more and more confusing but in the end, Georgia trusts her instincts, includes her entire family in the sleuthing and determines the killer narrowly missing being murdered herself.
1. Family is at the core of this novel. We meet Georgia’s parents, see the bond developing between sisters and learn what happens when they’re all forced to live under one roof. But it doesn’t end there as a new carnie family is introduced showing a completely different style of life but one where the love and trust among members is strong. It’s a big theme in this novel and really holds the story together.
2. This was a true mystery. There were tons of suspects and just when you narrowed it down to the 2 or 3 top suspects, a new logical one emerges. Right from the beginning, you think you know where it’s going but you’re quickly re-routed to several other complex potential options. When the story finally comes out in the last two chapters, you want to kick yourself for not realizing it.
I honestly found very little to want to change or that I didn’t fully enjoy in this one. Humor and writing are in good shape. Characters are well defined. Multiple plots and sub-plots. Perhaps there wasn’t enough Sid given the addition of several new characters who will likely appear in future books. I think it’s time Sid had an online love affair as he needs his own story too.
Each book in this series has gotten better along the way. After three, the author has really found her groove. As she’s changing publishers due to the shifts in the industry, I’m sad it may take a bit longer for the fourth to be released, but when it does, I’ll grab it once it hits the shelf rather than throw it on my online “To Read” shelf and get to it in the future. Great series!