There is little doubt that for those of us who are crime fiction fans, there are times when our brains need a break from peering into the dark souls of depraved human beings. So, when a book comes along that still has those mystery elements, but also has humor and a completely fantastical premise, it can be a welcome change of pace. A Skeleton in the Family, by Leigh Perry, is just such a book.
Leigh Perry is the pen name of Toni L. P. Kelner. Toni has been working as a co-editor (with Charlaine Harris) on a number of successful paranormal anthologies, so the idea that her first series under a pen name contains supernatural elements should come as no surprise to readers. What will be a surprise is the realization that it has taken someone this long to think of this concept.
A Skeleton in the Family tells the story of Georgia Thackery, a single mother and adjunct professor, who returns to her parents’ home to house-sit and start a new temporary position at the local college. With her parents traveling out of town, it also falls to Georgia to watch over – or more accurately entertain – the odd presence in the attic. It seems (and here is where the supernatural comes in) that the Thackery family has been the care-taker of an ambulatory skeleton since Georgia was six-years-old.
His name is Sid and he can walk and talk just like the rest of us, expect that he is just a series of connected bones. Lucky for him, he can detach single bones or unassemble the whole skeleton and become a simple pile of bones should the need arise. And somehow, times do seem to warrant that need more often than not.
How Sid came to be in the Thackery home is a touching story that I will allow readers to discover on their own; but since he was already a skeleton by that point, his true origins are still in question. When Sid convinces Georgia to allow him to attend the local Mangachusetts convention, where a walking skeleton would seem like the least of the oddball costumes, they have no idea that Sid’s past is about to make a sudden and perplexing reappearance.
Inspired by his brief remembrance of his past, Sid becomes fixated on the idea of discovering who he really is and what happened to him. Was he murdered – and if so, by who and for what reason? Aided by Georgia, they begin to investigate his history, all while trying to keep Sid’s existence a secret from Georgia’s daughter Madison and the rest of the small community.
Leigh Perry has filled the book with humor, most often in the form of bone puns and skeleton jokes. Readers will not be able to resist smiling as they witness the predicaments that Georgia and Sid find themselves in. A Skeleton in the Family is a quick, fun read that makes for a nice diversion from the other hardcore crime novels out there. Even readers who may not be fans of paranormal stories will find it hard to resist Sid’s charms and are likely to return for his next adventure.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.