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By Denise Swanson

Signet, July 2000

Reviewed by Karen Meek (25/6/00)

Who could not love a book that is the first in the "Scumble River" series? The name alone has had me curious for months until finally someone took pity on me and sent me an advance copy.

MURDER OF A SMALL-TOWN HONEY introduces school psychologist Skye Denison. Skye has returned to her hometown with a black cloud over her as not only was she fired from her previous job but she is also newly separated from her fiancÚ. In addition, the last time she was in Scumble River, about twelve years ago, she managed to insult the whole town, a fact the inhabitants do not let her forget.

To curry some favour, Skye doesn't object to being volunteered to help out at the Chokeberry Days festival where the guest of honour is the elderly Mrs. Gumtree, star of local children's TV. When Mrs. Gumtree doesn't show for an appearance, Skye enters the star's trailer only to find Mrs. Gumtree murdered.

When the investigation points to the perpetrator being Skye's brother and with the sheriff being extremely narrow minded and unhelpful, Skye is forced to try and find the real murderer.

I really enjoyed MURDER OF A SMALL-TOWN HONEY. It gave me that warm, cosy feeling. Skye is an engaging sleuth, she is humourous, independent, and fairly sensible about personal safety. There's also a lot of mysterious backstory to her life, which I hope is revealed in subsequent books.

The author described the setting so well I felt I could drive around it. My only quibble is that I felt the motive for the murder was a little disappointing. I look forward very much to the next book.

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