Sunday, February 1, 2009

Murder of a Royal Pain-Denise Swanson

Murder of a Royal Pain
Denise Swanson
Obsidian, Apr 7 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451226587

Scrumble River school psychologist Skye Denison is not having an easy time of it. After several years of pleading and nagging the local Illinois school board to hire a sociologist, they employ Jackie Jennings. From the very start, Skye has a bad feeling about the newcomer who says and does things that put her in a bad light. Jackie also is territorial; sitting in Ske’s chair and moving furniture without checking. She also volunteers to help with the Halloween fundraiser for Promfest.

Jackie’s volunteering forces Skye to agree to help too. Skye becomes one of the three witches who in costume look alike. She hates funhouses having been left alone in one as a child. While performing her role, Skye runs across the body of one of the other witches, "Promfest" chairperson Annette Paine. While Deputy police officer Quirk quickly rules it an accident, Skye disagrees as the victim lived up to her surname. With Police Chief Wally out of town, Skye enlists coroner Simon and news reporter Kurt to team up with her to investigate the “promicide.” When someone tries to run Skye over, she reconsiders her hypothesis and wonders if the culprit intended to kill a different witch.

Denise Swanson’s Scrumble River mysteries are always fun to read and her eleventh “Murder of …” is as enjoyable as the previous ones (see MURDER OF A CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY). Readers obtain a look at small-town Midwest living through a solid realistic cast especially the recurring characters, the students and their parents. The investigation is clever as Skye initially planned to stay out of it; gets involved; and changes her premise a couple of times leading to a strong whodunit with solid twists.

Harriet Klausner