|Denise Swanson: Murder of a Sweet Old Lady|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-451-20272-4
Thirty-year old, plus-size protagonist Skye Denison stands alone against all odds. She faces oddballs, odd parents, odd students, odd colleagues, odd family members, even an odd boyfriend who serves the community as mortician and coroner. But Skye embraces the unusual. As a school psychologist, she chose a profession that dotes on the abnormal.
Once you meet her family, you realize that they embody abnormal, but they also seem uncomfortably familiar. Readers will recognize Uncle Dante, the family dictator; the subservient wives and jealous sisters; and the willful, spoiled children. Don't forget the good, bad and downright ugly marriages that spawn yet another generation of family.
In this installment Skye, a reluctant returnee to hometown life, begins re-establishing communications with her family, all of whom seem to reside within a five mile radius of each other. Skye and her grandmother schedule daily get-togethers to chat and record the family history. But Skye's last visit finds grandmother in bed with the covers over her head -- not a good sign for a grandmother. For readers, Grandmother's death signals the start of an amazing journey through the labyrinth of family politics and relationships. Could the killer be dangling from a branch of Skye's family tree?
Swanson combines a witty style with a plot that unexpectedly twists and turns. Her colorful characters spout memorable homilies such as: "When I think about dying, one of the things that really scares me is that I'll be surrounded by my family in heaven. I'll be trapped in eternity with people I don't even want to spend Thanksgiving with."
Swanson embeds nuggets of truth in the tongue-in-cheek humor of her sweet mystery. She pokes at the flaws and weaknesses of the education system, she depicts the pain children endure at the hands of twisted parents, and she points out the plight of women in a patriarchal society. But most of all, Swanson crafts another delightfully twisted murder mystery set in Scumble River, Ill.
A multi-published writer of non-fiction and short stories, Dawn Goldsmith's latest short story, "Two to Tango," appears in the April issue of Love Words. Her multi-part feature on Women's History Month can be read in the current issue of Myria Magazine for Moms.
Click here to read Patricia L. White's review of Murder of a Small-Town Honey, the first Scumble River mystery.
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