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by Charlaine Harris
Berkley, February 2008
272 pages
ISBN: 0425219798

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's been a year of weddings and funerals for Aurora Teagarden. None of the weddings are hers, which may be a cause for soul-searching when one is young. The first wedding was her mother's, and a reason to celebrate. The second was a man from Roe's past; she views the invitation as a gauntlet thrown by the wife-to be, a gauntlet Roe picks up because she is, after all, her mother's daughter and can do no less. The one funeral isn't hers, but still an instance where pondering the lost chances in one's life seems appropriate. Jane Engle belonged to a crime discussion group with Roe, a group disbanded after a series of murders by one of the members.

After Jane’s funeral, Jane’s lawyer approaches Roe. It seems that Jane has left a little something to Roe. What could it be? Some keepsake from her library about crime? It's a trifle more substantial. Jane has left Roe everything. The house, the contents, and a significant bank balance. Jane's distant cousin and his wife, her only family, are a trifle put out but have no grounds for contesting the will. Roe is stunned, but manages to carry on.

While she is adjusting to her change in situation, someone searches the house. Based on the damages, Roe figures out the size of the item being sought and finds what she can only assume is the object of the search: a human skull. It's not a spanking new skull, but it isn't ancient, either. Jane must have known the victim and the killer. Roe decides that Jane wants Roe to reveal the secret she's been keeping.

As Roe begins investigating, she learns about her new neighbors. She's not delighted to find out that the new people moving in across the street are her old boyfriend and his extremely pregnant wife. She's also not too sure about some of her other neighbors.

Her first job is to figure out whom the skull belonged to and where the rest of the body is. One would think there wouldn't be that many options. Wrong. It could be the husband who just walked out one day and didn't come back. Or it could be the tenant who left without his bags right around the same time.

Even without knowing who the victim is, Roe also tries to figure out which of her neighbors has a motive and is capable of such a crime. There are multiple options for her to consider. The deserted wife? The man who is sneaking over to her house now? The husband of the lush down the road? The list goes on.

Charlaine Harris has been writing for a long time; this book originally came out in 1992. If one were to compare A BONE TO PICK with some of her more recent titles, one would notice just how much better a writer Harris has become in fifteen years. Which is not to say that A BONE TO PICK is a bad book. It's not; it's a very good cozy. She's just gotten a lot better. Roe Teagarden is a well-rounded character with dilemmas that are believable and interesting. The plot works and the setting works. A BONE TO PICK is a well-written cozy by a writer with lots of talent.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, November 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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