The cover of Leigh Perry’s “A Skeleton in the Family” intrigued me, so I had to take a peek inside the sample that Barnes and Noble happily provides for would-be buyers. I was hooked as soon as Sid came clattering down the hall.
Dr. Georgia Thackery is an intelligent adjunct English professor at a Massachusetts college, who moves into her parents’ house with her daughter, Madison. A skeleton named Sid lives in the attic, as he has since he saved Georgia when she was six.
Sid is not just any ordinary skeleton. He walks, talks, reads, can use the phone and a computer, spells better than Dr. Thackery, and can be easily collapsed into a suitcase for traveling purposes. There’s just one problem. He doesn’t know who he really is – or was, in his live past.
While on an outing to a manga/anime conference (with Sid in full cosplay – basically looking like himself) Sid sees someone whose face jogs his long lost memory. Sid soon agrees to an examination that reveals his own murder thirty years before. He seems like a nice enough skeleton, so who did it and why?
That exam leads to break-ins, suspicious behavior, assaults and more murder, with multiple oddball suspects. The supporting characters are as interesting as they are varied, including a hunky reporter boyfriend, a locksmith sister, a normal teenager, a nasty colleague, a talented grad student and other academic types. In “A Skeleton in the Family,” that mix blends perfectly with the clever interaction between Georgia Thackery and Sid. With occasional nods to bones falling off and dogs taking nips at tasty ulnas, the conversation between these two best friends is as normal as any sleuthing duo could have.
One of the nicely drawn subplots addresses the issue of adjunct faculty realities. We tend to think of adjunct college professors as part-timers who are basically working a second job, but not really interested in doing anything more. That may have been true in the past, but Perry makes the point that times have changed. In a cost-cutting move, universities across the country now hire part-timers so that they don’t have to pay the benefits and regular salaries given to full-time staffers (who might only teach one more course than their counterparts). Many adjuncts struggle to make ends meet as they move from school to school in search of that ever-elusive tenure track.
Sid the Skeleton, as crime solver? The clattering on the wooden floors might take some getting used to, but I could use an office assistant/puzzle solver that types faster than I do, has a logical mind, and can get from one side of a door to the other without ever opening it. 😉
“A Skeleton in the Family” is a very clever, engaging book with several LOL moments. I’m eagerly waiting publication of “The Skeleton Takes a Bow.”
Please visit www.leighperryauthor.com to read about Sid, Dr. Thackery and Perry’s upcoming work.