The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking
Family Skeleton Mystery #6
By Leigh Perry
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Dr. Georgia Thackery is back at home with her parents after finding a new adjunct position at Bostock College. Everyone is excited for their first family Christmas with nothing to hide. Why? Because Georgia’s daughter Madison is now in the know about Sid, their walking, talking family skeleton.
But their Christmas cheer is interrupted when the Thackerys’ dog Byron goes missing on a cold December night. When he’s finally found, he has a femur clutched between his jaws, and Georgia and Madison race to apologize to Sid for letting the dog gnaw on him yet again.
Except that all of Sid’s bones are present and accounted for.
This bone is from somebody else, and when they trace Byron’s trail to an overgrown lot nearby, they find the rest of the skeleton. It’s the normal kind, not moving or telling jokes, and when the police come to take charge, they’re sure it was murder.
And one of Georgia’s adjunct friends could be implicated.
With tensions stirring at the college and everyone hiding a secret or two, Sid and Georgia must uncover the truth before the ghost of a Christmas past strikes again. (From Amazon)
This series just keeps getting better! I look forward to each new novel in the Family Skeleton Mystery series, and this one does not disappoint. The characters are extremely well-defined, the setting of a college town in New England is perfect, and the strike of tenured professors couldn’t be at a worse time. The author shares the plight of adjunct professors and I confess to not even knowing what an adjunct was prior to this series. The mystery is hard to solve. Okay, it was one that only Sid could figure out.
Sid is the family skeleton. He and the Thackery family first met at the Fenton Family Festival when Georgia was a girl. To Georgia, now an adjunct professor at Bostock University, and her sister Deborah, growing up in a home with a walking, talking skeleton was normal. As an adult, Deborah doesn’t see Sid very often. Georgia, as a single mother to Madison, now a teen, didn’t see Sid very much either until a couple years ago. Madison now knows about Sid, and they are friends and online gaming buddies. Sid and Georgia have been involved in solving several mysteries in the past few years, murders that Georgia tends to be part of through friends or acquaintances.
Georgia arrives home from a day of classes to find Madison going to look for her Akita, Byron. They are currently living with her parents, both tenured professors at nearby McQuaid, and one of the grad students mentored by her parents left the front door open, so Byron took a walk. Madison finds Byron, and Byron brings a new treasure. Georgia identifies it as a human femur, and Madison is very worried that it belongs to Sid, despite being covered with dirt.
Sid is intact when they return, however, so Georgia calls the police. Sergeant Louis Raymond, one of the guys Deborah is currently dating, Georgia and Byron go to see if their dog will lead them to where he found the bone. Byron led them to a vacant, overgrown lot and the rest of the skeleton.
As more is learned about the skeleton, it cannot be matched up with any missing persons reports of the estimated time of burial. The woman it belonged to was murdered, but that is the only certainty. The property where her remains were found is where the old Nichols house once stood. It was demoed about ten years ago after the last owner died and the heirs emptied it.
As talks of striking escalate and adjuncts are deciding whether to cross a picket line to teach their own classes, fellow adjunct and friend Charles Peyton asked Georgia about the skeleton. He believes the young woman was someone he met when he was squatting at the old house ten years ago; she disappeared without a trace after they learned the home would be torn down. He can’t go to the police, as he was the only person who was with her for the month they were in the house together. Why was Charles squatting in the vacant house and Georgia and her daughter living with her parents? That is how poorly most adjuncts are paid, and they lack any bennies like paid time off or health insurance.
The characters are charming with few exceptions and three-dimensional. Georgia and Sid are my favorites, and the dapper Charles has also become a favorite. Seeing Charles grieve the loss of the woman from the past – the young woman he called Rose – was heartbreaking, especially since Georgia never heard of him dating anyone.
This cold case is quite the challenge to solve, especially since Charles never knew Rose’s real name. He knew only that she was afraid of someone and hiding. Solving this takes Georgia back to Fenton’s, where she runs into a fellow adjunct she had dated briefly not long ago, Dr. Brownie Mannix, and to Deborah, who was called into the Nichols house as a locksmith to get into many of the antique locks and lockboxes. It even leads to Bostock, from where students and custodians and helped clean out the old home and take antiques to the museum on campus. Sid and Georgia are stymied, which rarely occurs. The strikers, threatening violence, are out on campus, and Brownie disappears. The end is full of surprises and bad guys that I could not have anticipated! I highly recommend this hard-to-solve cozy mystery, and the series! It is the best, and most compelling one to date!