Saturday, September 28, 2013

A SKELETON IN THE FAMILY by Leigh Perry






Leigh Perry's A Skeleton in the Family surprised me.

In a way, the story is silly. A talking skeleton helps to solve his own murder. Still, I found the book amusing and interesting.

In the midst of a divorce, adjunct professor Georgia Thackery moves into her gone-on-sabbatical parents' house. She has a part-time job at the local University where her parents teach.

One advantage for Georgia is that her skeleton friend lives in the attic. She found Sid (the book tells the story), and she loves Sid.

Georgia and Sid work together to solve his thirty-year-old murder.

Along the way, someone kills a retired professor of zooarchaeology.

Sid, Georgia, and Georgia's daughter Madison attended a magna and anime convention (apparently about Japanese comic books and animation). Sid saw the retired professor there. He recognized her as someone who made him uneasy.

From that first clue, Sid and Georgia begin to solve the crime. The later murder of the professor confirms Sid's feelings that Sid and she knew each other. She must have known something that would have revealed the killer.

Georgia, Madison, and Sid end up with the murdered woman's dog. And the story goes from there.

Leigh Perry writes well. The mystery is well-crafted. The people are interesting enough.

One thing of special interest to me was the way the story portrays adjunct professors. These are people with full Ph.Ds or other advanced degrees who haven't qualified for the college tenure track. They are poorly paid with few benefits. They are like all kinds of part-time workers.

My observation: More and more colleges use adjunct professors. Those colleges are like many other employers. They want to save money and cut down on the number of full-time people they have to employ. It doesn't hurt to have the situation of adjunct professors discussed in stories like this.

This is a light book, the kind of book I might choose to read on an airplane or in a busy place.

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