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by Denise Swanson

ISBN: 0451202724

Reviewed by Karen Meek

School psychologist Skye Denison returns in her second adventure in MURDER OF A SWEET OLD LADY. Skye has been back in her hometown for nine months now after returning under a cloud following a broken engagement and a job dismissal. She has a new job working for the local schools and a new boyfriend, Simon, who is the undertaker and coroner when required.

Skye has been visiting her grandmother after work to learn about the family history, which up until now hasn't been much discussed. After a rough day at work where's she's been assaulted by a pupil's parent, she drives over to her grandmother's place. Unfortunately what she finds doesn't make her day any better. The indoor cat, is outside, the housekeeper is missing and her grandmother is dead in her bed. Though it initially looks like natural causes, there are enough strange circumstances that lead Skye to be suspicious.

Wanting to find out the truth of her grandmother's death and contrary to the wishes of rest of her large family, Skye pushes for an autopsy. Even when the autopsy reveals that her grandmother was poisoned, the rest of the family are not keen to find out who the murderer is. Skye realises that the most likely killer is one of her own family. Suspects abound as there are many aunts, uncles and cousins itching to get their hands on the expected money and property left by Skye's grandmother.

As well as making many enemies through poking around into her grandmother's death, Skye has other problems. As well as man trouble, someone is making her life very difficult by slashing her car tyres and vandalising her home. In addition she's been asked to change her assessment of a pupil with influential parents and another student's father is very upset with her for reporting him to social services for beating his child. This may be a small town but it has a lot of the problems of a big city.

This is another enjoyable cozy from Denise Swanson following on from DEATH OF A SMALL TOWN HONEY. Skye and her parents appear very true to life and the whodunit is suitably unfathomable until the end. There is a big cast of characters and it takes some mental agility to keep the cousins linked to the correct parents and the spouses to each other but then I'm one of those readers who loves a cast of characters inside the front cover. A few continuity slips jarred me in the first fifty or so pages but once they disappeared I got hooked into the story. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as DEATH OF A SMALL TOWN HONEY. and it may be because I felt uneasy over the fact that so few people mourned the death of a close family member. Nonetheless, I look forward to the next episode.

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