Murder of a Snake in the Grass, Denise Swanson, Signet, $5.99.
With four novels under her belt, Denise Swanson is getting to be an old hand at telling a story, and she seems comfortable with her characters and setting - enough so, in this novel, to make Skye suffer a bit in an interesting manner. The novel takes place at the bicentennial celebration of Swanson's fictional Illinois town of Scumble River. When the great-great-great-grand nephew of the founder is found dead with a ceremonial pickax implanted in his chest, it leads to all kinds of complications. And complications are sprouting in Skye's life as well - just as she seems to be heading for a good thing with the local funeral director, Simon, her ex-fiancee from New Orleans, Luc St. Amant, shows up. This gets Skye's relatives all atwitter, and at the same time, she's not sure of her feelings for the police chief, but he seems to be acting strangely. Skye resolves to stay out of this murder, but ends up involved in it, anyway.
One of the strongest things about this series is Swanson's own background as a school psychologist which shines through as we as readers get to know Skye. This book seemed to have even more detail about the kind of thing a school psycholgist does, and I for one was fascinated. Combined with an easy, likable way with characterizations, and a plot that's clever enough to keep you guessing as well as some generous doses of humor, these books are always worth a read. I can't recommend anything more pleasant that a summer afternoon, a glass of lemonade, and a visit to Scumble River.
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