I admit I was feeling a little lonely. Georgia—my BFF and housemate—has a new job at an art school in northern Massachusetts, so she doesn’t get home very often. That’s not to say that I don’t adore the rest of the Thackery family—Georgia’s parents Dr. T and Mrs. Dr. T; her sister Deborah; and her daughter Madison—but what Georgia and I do together is kind of special.
We solve murders.
Georgia is the Archie Goodwin to my Nero Wolfe. Like Wolfe, I don’t leave the house much, but for different reasons. He’s kind of lazy, where I have plenty of energy. In fact, I never even sleep. Wolfe likes to eat fancy meals—I don’t eat at all. And Wolfe isn’t fond of people, whereas I like people a lot, when I get a chance to meet them. Unfortunately, I don’t get that chance very often. Because where Nero Wolfe has generous amounts of meat on his bones, I have none at all.
You see, I’m a skeleton.
I walk, I talk, I make bone jokes.
It’s kooky, but mostly I don’t mind except it does limit my options for leaving the house. On the good side, I can watch movies all night long, which is how I happened on Rear Window, a fab Hitchcock thriller with James Stewart and Grace Kelly. In the movie, Stewart is laid up with a broken leg, and spies on the inhabitants of the building next door for entertainment. He sees something suspicious, and realizes one of his neighbors is a murderer. Danger ensues!
It’s a terrific flick, and I found it very inspirational. I mean, if James Stewart could solve a murder without leaving his house, why couldn’t I do the same from my attic boudoir. Sure Stewart got two broken legs for his trouble, but if I break a bone, I can glue it back together.
So at first light, I was ready at the window. I had to peek through the curtains, so nobody saw me, and I didn’t have binoculars, but I have terrific eyesight, especially considering that I don’t have eyes.
I thought I was getting lucky right off the bat when I spotted a Pennycross police cruiser pulling up in front of the house, but it turned out to be Deborah’s boyfriend dropping off some donuts. He’s been sucking up the family because he’s got competition—Deborah is also seeing a security guard from the college where Dr. T and Mrs. Dr. T teach.
Next up, I saw a couple of sketchy guys in hoodies slinking up to our house. Since the Madison’s dog barked—proving that the mutt is good for something after all—I decided to bide my time before launching a surprise rescue mission. So I put my ear cavity to the attic door to listen for just the right moment. Except that what I heard was cheerful greetings. The sketchy guys turned out to be a couple of grad students Dr. T was mentoring. It’s no wonder that I didn’t recognize them. So many of them were hanging around that I was stuck in the attic most of the time. It was also no wonder that they showed up right after the donuts did.
Eventually all the Thackerys and the grad students left, and I spent the rest of the day focusing on the neighbors’ houses. It was disappointing. I mean, I suppose it’s good we live in a safe place, but a little mayhem would certainly liven things up. After a while I started wishing that I did sleep because I was so bored.
A couple of packages arrived later in the afternoon, and I thought maybe somebody would at least try to steal one and I could jump out in all my boney glory and catch them, but no such luck. Madison got home a while later and pulled them inside.
Of course there was that one Nero Wolfe book where people were delivered via shipping crate, but I didn’t think it likely that anybody had done anything so interesting. The boxes weren’t big enough or strong enough for a person anyway. Yeah, I could have folded myself up in one of them with room to spare, but—
I froze for a moment. And when I freeze, I really freeze—no breathing, you know. Then I snuck downstairs, unpacked the contents of those boxes, and brought them back upstairs. Oh yes, they would do nicely. I left my post and spent the rest of the day making plans and arranging things just so.
The next morning, Dr. T unknowingly helped me abandon my Attic Window and take a little road trip.
Georgia was going to be so surprised when she got the mail.
You can read more about Sid in The Skeleton Paints a Picture, the fourth book in the “Family Skeleton” mystery series.
Georgia Thackery, adjunct English professor, has a new job teaching at Falstone College of Art and Design, known as FAD to its students and faculty. Living in a borrowed bungalow during winter in the snowiest part of Massachusetts, Georgia feels her isolation weighing as heavily as the weather. Then she receives a package containing her best friend, Sid, a walking, talking skeleton who has lived with the Thackery family since Georgia was six. With Georgia working out of town, Sid was lonely too.
The two of them make plans for a cozy semester together, and it might have worked out that way if Sid hadn’t snuck out in the middle of the night to play in the snow and spotted a crashed car. When he drags Georgia out to investigate, they find the driver behind the wheel, apparently dead from the collision.
Initially, police think it’s an accident, so Georgia and Sid think that’s the end of it—until Georgia finds out the body hits closer to home than she’d realized. . .
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About the author
Leigh Perry writes the Family Skeleton mysteries featuring adjunct English professor Georgia Thackery and her best friend, an ambulatory skeleton named Sid. The Skeleton Paints a Picture, the fourth, was published by Diversion Books on October 10. 2107. As Toni L.P. Kelner, she’s the co-editor of paranormal fiction anthologies with Charlaine Harris; the author of eleven mystery novels; and an Agatha Award winner and multiple award nominee for short fiction. No matter what you call her, she lives north of Boston with her husband, two daughters, one guinea pig, and an every-increasing number of books.
All comments are welcomed.