I've had lots to read lately, more than I can squeeze into my usual Wednesday book posts. And all of these are worth sharing. Not something I'm going to complain about!
If you like quirky cozy mysteries, you've got to try the Family Skeleton series by Leigh Perry. Adjunct Professor Georgia Thackery's best friend since childhood is Sid, a walking talking skeleton. The Skeleton Haunts a House opens with the two of them attending a haunted house on the college campus. Halloween is Sid's favorite time of year because he can get out of the house and roam freely in a costume that covers his bones. When a murder victim is found in the haunted house and the area is locked down, Sid and Georgia are separated, with Sid on the wrong side of the crime tape. I absolutely love this series. Georgia and Sid are a fun duo to read about and in all three books, the author has found clever ways for Sid to investigate the murders. (In the first book, he attends an Anime convention dressed as a Japanese death god. In the second one, his skull goes to school with Georgia's daughter, playing the part of Yorick in the drama club's latest play.)
The Two Levels by Jonathan R. Miller kept me turning pages late into the night. The story is told from the point of view of Jasmine, a seven-year-old who was returning home from a vacation to South Africa with her parents. Because the reader only sees things through Jasmine's eyes, I never had all of the details. There was trouble with the plane which forced it to land at an airport in Sierra Leone. Sick people forced their way onto the plane and, after it landed in the United States, forced their way out of quarantine and fled, seeking refuge in a shopping mall. Jasmine's mother has been shot and is relying on Jasmine to take care of them both. But those details aren't important. What matters is that the passengers of the plane have taken refuge on the second floor and the employees of the mall have barricaded themselves on the first floor. Jasmine belongs to neither group and is doing her best to survive by shuttling between them. The adults who do offer to help Jasmine and her mother want something in exchange. Emmanuel wants her to gather jewelry and electronics that he can sell after it's over. Christiana won't tell Jasmine what she wants. Not yet. The book reminded me of Not a Drop to Drink, another book that shows a mother through a child's eyes. Or maybe Room.
Pane and Suffering, the first in a new series by Cheryl Hollon, gave me a wonderful vicarious lesson in stained glass. That's the main reason I gravitate towards these crafty mysteries -- to read about a hobby I already enjoy or learn more about one I've never tried. I don't see stained glass in my future, not with the blood thinners and my clumsy fingers, but I'll be watching for the next Webb's Glass Shop Mystery. When Savannah goes home to arrange her father's funeral and sell his glass shop to his friend and assistant, Hugh, she expects to quickly return to her own career as a glass blower. Then Hugh is found dead in the shop, apparently of a heart attack and Savannah find a note her father wrote before his death, warning her that she's in danger herself. With a rival shop owner and an investment company both eager to buy the property, and coded messages her father left for her, which the police officer sent in response to her call refuses to investigate, Savannah is feeling pressured from all sides. I had a hunch who was behind the deaths, but the exact details of the mystery kept me guessing until the end.
Disclosure -- the publishers provided me with ARCs.