Fresh Meat: The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry

The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry is the second humorous cozy mystery int he Family Skeleton series about a seemingly normal family with a literal skeleton, not in the closet, but in the attic (available September 2, 2014).

Life has gotten a bit easier for Georgia Thackery, adjunct professor and single mom. When she first agreed to house sit for her parents, she struggled to prevent her teenaged daughter, Madison from finding out about the real skeleton in the family. His name is Sid and he lives in the attic. He and Georgia have been friends since he rescued her from tragedy when she was a small child. But when this story opens, the family is well settled in the house and Madison and Sid have become great friends. Less stress for Georgia until Madison wants to bring Sid’s skull to school to star as Yorick in the school production of  Hamlet, and Sid is dying (pun intended) to get out of the house, so he wants to play the part.

“It’ll be easy,” Madison said. “I’ll take Sid to school with me and keep him in my locker until rehearsal.”

“You’re going to take all of Sid?”

“No, just the skull.”

“I’m fine with that,” Sid added.

He really was eager. Usually he hated to be separated from the rest of his bones because it made him feel so helpless. The essential part of Sid—I never know if I should call it his soul, his consciousness, his ghost, or his memory chip—travels with the skull, which means that when the skull is elsewhere, the rest of his bones are just that, a pile of bones.

Although Georgia is generally nervous anytime Sid leaves the house, she gives in to Madison and Sid, and warns Madison to make sure NO MATTER WHAT that she never forgets to bring Sid home after school. And of course one day after school Madison leaves Sid on the side of the stage. When Georgia and Madison go back for him, they cannot get in the building.

Georgia retrieves Sid the next day and she is very busy telling him that she and Madison both felt terrible that he spent the night alone in the school. Sid brushes her apologies aside because he has urgent news.

As soon as I was in the front hall with the door firmly shut, I pulled Sid out of the bag to continue apologizing face-to-face. Or at least face-to-skull.

“Okay,” he said, “it’s not okay and I will be happy to let you and Madison grovel for the next month. Maybe two. But right now I have to tell you something.”

“Okay, what is it?”

“I witnessed a murder.”

“Excuse me?”

“Last night, somebody killed a man in the high school auditorium.”

Sid heard but didn’t actually see the murder, and there is no dead body at the school. No one seems to be missing. Almost immediately the wrong dead body is discovered. Chaos reigns. But then the right dead body is found and Georgia is in the position of trying to let the police know all the information garnered when Sid overheard the murder without exposing Sid as a walking, talking, thinking skeleton.

This is a great cozy filled with sparkling humor and lots of twists and turns. I hesitate to call this book a paranormal mystery because, like Georgia and Madison, I consider Sid to be part of the family, and that sense of family love and loyalty is pervasive throughout the story. Every cozy lover will revel in The Skeleton Takes A Bow.

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Twice short-listed for Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran’s cozy mystery novel, Well Read, Then Dead  released by Berkley Prime Crime in 2014 will be followed by Caught Read Handed in 2015.

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