Readers would be forgiven for assuming that a novel featuring an ambulatory skeleton as an amateur detective might not address too many real-world issues, however, Leigh Perry’s Family Skeleton series repeatedly proves that just because a book features paranormal elements does not mean it has to be devoid of sociological examination. Today marks the release of The Skeleton Makes a Friend, the fifth novel to star Sid the Skeleton and his human “family.”
As The Skeleton Makes a Friend begins, Georgia Thackery is working as a summer adjunct professor at Overfeld College during a semester designed to prepare younger students for University life. She and her daughter have even scored a sweet deal on a rustic cabin by the lake – which also means there is plenty of room for Sid the Skeleton to frolic unseen.
One day, while hanging out at the lake, Georgia is surprised to find two strangers on the property. The younger of the two is looking for her friend – Skalle Beinagrind. Georgia explains that they are only renting the cabin and that she does not know this individual. The girl, Jen Cater-Brame, understands and tells Georgia she is looking for Skalle because he is a detective and that she really needs his help, but since there has been some miscommunication, Jen and her mother leave without incident. By this point, Georgia has already figured out that this is connected to Sid in some way.
Turns out that Sid has been playing a MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game – with a group he met in the virtual world. Since he is unable to interact with people in the real world, this is his only outlet for social communication beyond the Thackery family. And yes, Sid might have bragged to his online friends about how he has helped to solve a few crimes over the years. But now, one of that group is uncommunicative and Jen needs Sid’s help to find their missing friend.
Sid convinces Georgia to join him in helping Jen and before long, they discover a murder on the Overfeld campus that has ties to this missing persons case.
Fans of Sid will delight in watching him navigate the challenges of having his first “outside” friendship while never straying to far from his smart-alecky roots. Series readers will also be thrilled to know that Sid is helped by not only Georgia, but also by Georgia daughter, Madison, on this case. This is a formidable trio who never lets the world get them down for too long and they certainly know how to take care of themselves – and each other.
The ensuing investigation covers such wide-ranging topics as the financial struggles of small learning institutions, claims of sexual harassment, and as always, the challenging career path for adjunct professors. Leigh Perry knows her pop culture and references to the latest in movies, Broadway shows, musical acts, and more ground the book in our current reality. Playing off the theme of friendship, Leigh also makes casual references to her crime fiction pals such as Charlaine Harris, Dana Cameron, and Doris Ann the librarian, which will delight devotees of the genre.
Make no mistake about it, the Family Skeleton books are light and humorous, but it is the heart and soul at their core that keeps readers coming back to join in Sid’s latest escapade over and over again. The Skeleton Makes a Friend is charming without straying into saccharinely sweet territory.
Disclaimer: A e-book galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.