Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Murder Of A Royal Pain - Denise Swanson

Murder Of A Royal Pain
A Scumble River Mystery
Denise Swanson


Skye Dennison, school psychologist to the entire district, though that serving as the faculty liaison on the Promfest committee would pretty much involve a couple of meeting and tacking up streamers. She was so wrong. Prom has become an enormous event at the local high school, complete with door prizes (dorm fridges, flat-screen TVs) and an insane amount of on-site entertainments. Clearly, this is the direct result of each committee of parents trying to outdo last year’s group. The cherry on the top of this cake is the hot competition to lead the committee. Apparently, the mom who leads the committee has a great deal of influence in getting her daughter crowned prom queen. If you’re into that sort of thing. And these moms definitely are.

This year, there’s a fight between Annette Paine (prom queen of 1982) and Evie Harrison (prom queen of 1983.) The two nearly come to blows and have to be separated before the meeting begins. After a bit of whispering, involving who knows what, Evie declares that Annette will be chair. Witness to all this frivolity is the new ‘gossip’ reporter in town, a man attractive enough to get even insular, small town ladies to share their secrets.

The first event in the yearlong fundraising drive is a haunted house at Halloween. Skye hates haunted houses, but feels compelled to volunteer. Maybe it will get her mind off the newly arrived, and desperately needed, social worker, who clearly has her own plans about division of labor. Dressed as a witch, Skye enters the haunted house, only to literally trip over a dead woman. The woman, Annette, was dressed as a witch, too. In fact, there were a few witches on hand that evening. Which witch was the target? As usual, Skye finds it impossible to stay out of the investigation, especially when she might have been the target.

This is the latest in a long running series (MURDER OF A REAL BAD BOY, MURDER OF A CHOCOLATE-COVERED CHERRY) but new readers will find it easy to jump in at this point, since the author excels at providing necessary background while telling the current story. My personal preference in a murder mystery is that the murder happen fairly early on, leaving plenty of time for investigation. Much like small towns, though, the murders in this series happen in their own time; this time, we’re approaching the halfway point of the novel before the body appears. Readers who love this series for the quirks and foibles of small town life won’t mind this delay. If you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned cozy, this is the book (and series) for you.

Rating: 6
April 2009
ISBN# 978-0-451-222658-7 (paperback)


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