Tag Archives: Leigh Perry

Sid “The Skeleton” Thackery and the Attic Window by Leigh Perry

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.

My Musing ~ The Skeleton Paints A Picture by Leigh Perry

The Skeleton Paints A Picture by Leigh Perry is the fourth book in the “Family Skeleton” mystery series. Publisher: Diversion Books, coming October 10, 2017

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. . .

In this latest adventure, Sid delivers himself to Georgia and the two of them find themselves involved in more than what appears to be an accident, but open up a can of worms involving art theft. When it comes to solving murders, there is no better pair than Georgia and Sid. Sid is more human than a sack of bones and their relationship is so tight that you forget that he is what he is, especially when it comes to the manner in which they rely on one another.

This is a well-written and tightly woven whodunit that I devoured because I had to know how this was all going to end. The narrative was cleverly dispersed putting me in the middle of all the action as Georgia and Sid go about looking for clues with a suspect pool that was small yet everyone had a motive or two. With short chapters, it was easy to follow along with the progression of the multi-plot storyline. The author does a great job in presenting this drama with engagingly witty repartee, a lovable cast, although I did miss Madison’s presence, and the perfect winter scenery which played a factor in the outcome of this deliciously charming series. This is by far the best book in the series and I can’t wait to see where we go next with Georgia, Sid and the rest of the gang.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

The Best Day Ever with Sid Thackery by Leigh Perry

The Skeleton Haunts A HouseNote: Though this day happens after the climax of The Skeleton Haunts a House, it contains NO spoilers.

I know, given the excitement the day before in the Thackery household, one might have thought we’d let Halloween slide. But no self-respecting ambulatory skeleton can let this day go by without a celebration.

So I got to work first thing in the morning. Technically, I’d been up all night, as usual. I don’t sleep, which gives me so much more time to do important stuff like working on homework for my art history class and playing World of Warcraft. But as soon as it was light enough that could move around without disturbing the sleeping members of the family, I started decorating.

By the time Dr. T, Mrs. Dr. T, Georgia, and Madison were awake, all the decorations were already up. And I mean ALL the decorations collected over the years. There was ceramic jack-o-lanterns Georgia painted in junior high school; tissue paper witches from when Madison was little; cardboard ghosts and vampires; plastic werewolves that cling to the windows; spiders made of pipe cleaners and pom-poms; and my favorite, the calaveras Mrs. Dr. T collected. I was hanging a black-and-orange construction paper chain when Dr. T came downstairs.

“What do you think?” I asked.

He looked around and I could tell he was impressed. “My goodness, I had no idea we had so many Halloween decorations.”

“When you live in the attic, you’ve got nothing better to do than keep inventory. You don’t think it’s too much, do you?”

“Not at all.” He put a hand on my shoulder blade. “Sid, after what you did yesterday, you can decorate all you want.”

I couldn’t help grinning. Really. No skeleton can help grinning. But I really meant it.

He went off to the kitchen to start breakfast for the family. The rest of the Thackerys started trickling downstairs as the scent of bacon wafted through the house. Unfortunately, that included the dog. He sniffed at me, and had the nerve to lick his lips. I didn’t even bother to engage. Some watch dog he is! When things went bad last night, where was he? Locked in a bathroom. Let him try to gnaw on me and he’ll get what the killer got.

After breakfast, Madison and Georgia headed off to get essential supplies: candy and pumpkins to carve. Being Halloween morning, it took them a few stops to find enough pumpkins, but they finally arrived with enough for each of us to carve. Mrs. Dr. T did a Day of the Dead face, Mr. T did Frankenstein’s monster again because he has a crush on Mary Shelley, Georgia made a werewolf that the Dog wishes he could aspire to, Madison did Lord Shingami from Soul Eater, and Deborah just made a face. (She makes faces at my jokes a lot, too.)

I did myself. I always do myself. Why mess with perfection?

By evening, only Georgia and I were left at home. The rest of the family had gone to work at McHades Hall at the Pennycross Halloween Howl. I was just as glad it was just us, honestly. I knew I could talk her into letting me have some extra fun. As it got dark, Georgia put out the lit pumpkins, then pretended to carry me outside to sit on the porch. Not that twenty pounds is all that heavy, but it was easier for me to do the real work. Then she set up some strings and levers so she could pretend to make me move from behind me.

That’s right: I got to hand out the candy!

I was careful, mind you. I only moved a little, as if I was a prop running on a battery. If a kid looked scared, I didn’t move at all, just let them reach into the bucket. One little girl seemed to like me, so I gave her a wink, and she giggled. But when a group of tweens mocked the “fakey” skeleton, I reached toward them! They left without their Reese’s cups.

Toward the end of the evening, Georgia had to go to the bathroom, leaving me in charge. One last party started up our sidewalk, but they looked kind of old to be trick-or-treating. They weren’t even in costume. I was trying to decide how to play it—static or scary—when I heard one of them say, “Let’s see how far we can throw the pumpkins!”

If it had been mine they’d reached for, I would have minded so much, but they grabbed Madison’s, and she was really proud of the way it had turned out. So I stood up, scattering candy, and yelled, “You leave that alone!”

They used words Mrs. Dr. T asked me to avoid, and didn’t move. Until I stomped toward them, that is. Then they took off as fast as they could, screaming like little kids.

“Yeah, you better run!” I called after them. “Nobody messes with the Thackery family, not on my watch!”

BEST. HALLOWEEN. EVER.

From my holiday to yours. . .Happy Thanksgiving!


GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on December 3 for your chance to win a print copy of THE SKELETON HAUNTS A HOUSE. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

About the author
Leigh Perry writes the Family Skeleton mysteries feature Sid the Skeleton. The Skeleton Haunts a House, the third, came out in October. 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 two daughters, two guinea pigs, and one husband. Visit Leigh at leighperryauthor.com.

My Musing ~ The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry

The Skeleton Haunts A HouseThe Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry is the third book in the”Family Skeleton” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, October 2015

Sid the Skeleton bones up on clues to solve a Haunted House homicide in this mystery from the author of The Skeleton Takes a Bow. . .

What holiday could bring more warmth to a skeleton’s chest cavity than Halloween? And when you’re a living skeleton who’s not supposed to be seen outside the house, it’s a welcome chance to get some fresh air and rub bony elbows with people. That’s why Sid doesn’t mind wearing a full-body dog suit and going as Scooby-Doo along with Georgia Thackery’s Velma to the Halloween Howl.

Sid can’t wait to go through the Haunted House—but he gets rattled for real when a genuine dead body is discovered. Trapped inside as the police quickly seal off the crime scene, Sid makes no bones about dropping the dog suit and posing as an actual skeleton. This murder is a skull-scratcher, but as long as Sid is on the inside, he might as well case the joint to figure out who used the cover of darkness to commit the perfect crime. . .

This was a great read. I enjoyed all facets of this entertaining story. Sid was at his best and it was fun meeting Georgia’s parents. Once again, an interesting mystery that kept me engaged from beginning to end and I liked how the story wrapped up.

A Day in the Life with Sid the Skeleton by Leigh Perry

The Skeleton Takes a BowYou probably think that being a walking, talking skeleton is the best gig imaginable. I can stay up all night, I never need bathroom breaks, and I can’t have weight problems. But there are a couple of downsides. One is having to share a house with Byron, an Akita who eyes me far too covetously whenever he sees me. But the dog I can handle. What I don’t like is that I don’t get out of the house much.

Hard though you may find this to believe, a lot of people freak out when they see me. Though the literature says the condition is rare, there are a surprising number of cartilogenophobics around the town of Pennycross, Mass. Or maybe it’s necrophobia, because technically, I am dead, but you’d think my being both ambulatory and extremely personable would chase that fear away. But some people still find me threatening, even when I smile my biggest smile and reach out to give them a big hug. So in deference to their issues, I stay at home a lot more than I’d like.

Recently, however, I happened upon a place I could go out and about without anybody blinking an eye. In fact, people seemed happy to see me. They laughed, they sent their children over to hug me, they posed for selfies. Admittedly, for some reason people kept calling me Jack Skellington instead of Sid, but that’s a small price to pay for such a warm welcome.

I’d share some of the pictures they took, but Georgia, my best pal and housemate, says I should keep it quiet that I went to this world-famous vacation spot. Something about not being able to sneak me in again. All I can say is that it’s the happiest place on earth.

Of course, I can’t go to Dis—to that wonderful “world” every weekend. That’s why Madison, Georgia’s daughter and my other housemate, and I came up with the brilliant idea of hiding me in plain sight. On stage, in fact. I’m going to star in a play at Madison’s high school!

Okay, maybe starring is exaggerating a bit, but I will be in a featured role. I’m going to be in Hamlet as Yorick, of “alas, poor Yorick” fame. Unfortunately, I don’t have any lines, and only my skull will be involved, but it’s a start. Madison reminds me that there are no small parts, and actually, my skull is one of the bigger parts of my frame, whether or not it’s the biggest part in the play.

When I’m not in rehearsal, I get to hang around backstage, which is great! I’ve been hearing about all the hot games, the best movies, the funniest cat videos on YouTube. And the gossip! Since I don’t actually remember being alive, I’d never realized that most high school happens off stage, not on.

So for the past couple of weeks, my daily routine has been to get up in the morning and help Georgia and Madison fix breakfast, then plop my skull into a bag for Madison to carry to school. I spend the first part of the day in her locker, listening in and peering out through the vents, and after classes are over, Madison takes me to rehearsal. Once that’s over, it’s back home again. I just hope she doesn’t forget to pick me up one day.

It is a little weird not having the rest of my bones around. If I were to hear anything requiring manly action—like a fire alarm or a theft in progress—I wouldn’t be able to do anything but yell. Still, what are the chances of that happening? How likely is it that anybody would, for instance, commit murder in a high school auditorium?

Sid

PS – Now that I think about it, Georgia only said I couldn’t post photos taken of me at that place I went for fun. This, however, isn’t a photo—it’s a drawing by the soon-to-be-famous artist Maggie Kelner. I can’t help it if you figure out where it is we went. (I’d totally be winking right now if I had eyelids. Or eyes.)


You can read more about Sid in The Skeleton Takes a Bow, the second book in the “Family Skeleton” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is A Skeleton in the Family.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 23 for the chance to win a copy of either THE SKELETON TAKES A BOW or A SKELETON IN THE FAMILY, winner’s choice. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Leigh Perry is Toni L.P. Kelner in disguise, or maybe vice versa. As Toni, she’s published eight books in the Laura Fleming Southern Mystery series and three novels in the “Where are they now?” series; written a couple of dozen short stories, many of which were nominated for awards; and co-edited seven urban fantasy anthologies. As Leigh, she’s still a newbie. The Skeleton Takes a Bow, a September 2014 release from Berkley Prime Crime, is the second in the Family Skeleton series, and Leigh is hard at work on the third. No matter who she is, she lives north of Boston with her husband, fellow author Stephen P. Kelner; their two daughters; two guinea pigs; and many many books.

Visit Toni at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook

A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry

a skeleton in  the familyA Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry is the first book in the new “Family Skeleton” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, September 2013

Most families have skeletons in their closets…

Moving back into her parents’ house with her teenage daughter had not been Georgia Thackery’s “Plan A.” But when she got a job at the local college, it seemed the sensible thing to do. So she settled in and began reconnecting with old friends.

Including Sid. Sid is the Thackery family’s skeleton. He’s lived in the house as long as Georgia can remember, although no one, including Sid, knows exactly where he came from and how he came to be a skeleton.

Sid walks, he talks, he makes bad jokes, he tries to keep Georgia’s dog from considering him a snack. And he manages to persuade Georgia to let him leave the house. But when she takes him to an anime convention—disguised as a skeleton, of course—he sees a woman who triggers memories of his past.

Now he is determined to find out how he died—with Georgia’s help. But their investigation may uncover a killer who’s still alive and well and bad to the bone…

Georgia is on the case when Sid sees someone from his past and wants her to get some answers, but all is lost when she is murdered which sends Georgia and Sid on a search for answers.

I like it. This is uniquely creative concept that was both playful and humorous in the telling of this intriguing mystery that hooked me from the start. Who is Sid? Who’s behind the murder? How does the Thackery family fit into the scheme of things? This will be answered in this light-hearted whodunit filled with amusing banter and a great cast of characters in this wonderfully crafted debut series. There’s no bones about it, I can’t wait for the next book in this exciting series.

Leigh Perry is the pseudonym for Toni L.P. Kelner

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

A Day With Sid the Skeleton by Leigh Perry

a skeleton in  the familyThe first thing most people notice about me is my build. I’m kind of skinny. In fact, I’m skin and bones, minus the skin. You see, I’m a skeleton.

Don’t freak out. I’m still a person, albeit a dead one. I’m ambulatory, articulate, and exceedingly intelligent even without a brain. Nobody knows why I exist. Am I a ghost haunting my own skeleton? A zombie who dieted? The recipient of a radioactive spider bite? All I know is that I “woke” to rescue a little girl named Georgia, and moved into her house.

Fast forward twenty years and I still live with Georgia, along with Georgia’s teenaged daughter Madison. And the dog. Byron. I don’t like the dog. Unfortunately, he likes me a lot, the way Georgia and Madison like a big pot of chili.

Back to my day. I’m the first one up because I don’t sleep, so I hear Georgia’s alarm clock go off. Most mornings, I also hear her hit the snooze button, but I’m happy to clatter down from the attic to pound on her door. It’s strange how little she appreciates this. Then I tap on Madison’s door before zipping downstairs. Madison assures me that the dog won’t lunge out of the room to chew on me, but I remember the first time we met. He stole my ulna.

While the ladies perform their morning ablutions, I get breakfast fixed. Georgia feels guilty about my cooking since I don’t eat, but I don’t mind. I also fill up the dog bowl, but only to make sure the dog has something to chew on other than me. Eventually Georgia and Madison appear to shovel in their food, and as soon as breakfast is over, Madison grabs her books, waves goodbye, and hops onto her bike to head for Pennycross High School. Sometimes Georgia has time to spare, but on this day, she was teaching an 8 o’clock class and had to scoot. Georgia works too hard. She’s adjunct faculty at McQuaid University, which means she’s not on a tenure track. The pay stinks, and most nights she also teaches distance learning classes–courses taught via computer. It’s no wonder she’s tired in the morning.

With everybody else gone, it’s just me. And the dog, who I ignore as much as possible. I run upstairs to boot up my computer. I only recently discovered the wonders of the internet. It didn’t exist as such when I was originally alive, and I didn’t have access to a PC until Georgia moved back to Pennycross, but I learned quickly.

First up is Neopets, a game site I frequent. Since nobody knows I’m a skeleton, I can chat with other players about books, movies, and the game. It’s against the rules to discuss real world issues, but I don’t see much of the real world anyway. Next I go onto Facebook. My friends there don’t know I’m a skeleton either. When I’ve gone through my newsfeed, wished people happy birthday, and played a little Farmville, I go to my tumblr: sid-the-family-skeleton.tumblr.com It’s the one place I cop to being a skeleton, though nobody believes me. It’s kind of meta.

If I get tired of the computer, I pick up my latest book. I’ve been rereading the Sookie Stackhouse series because I love the idea of mythical characters in the real world. No skeletons, but the vampires are cool. As soon as I finish the last book, I’ve got a new one: Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron. I’m really hoping for a skeleton in it.

When Madison gets home from school, I go downstairs to keep her company, but I don’t help her with her homework, no matter what Georgia thinks. Okay, maybe I proofread a paper or two. (The dog never helps with homework.) Today she’s got big news. The drama coach announced that they’re doing Hamlet, and she wants me to help her run lines. We also cook up an idea I hope Georgia will go for.

With that in mind, by the time Georgia arrives, the table is set and salad, spaghetti, and garlic bread are waiting. Georgia is pleased, but I can tell that she is suspicious of our motives. Madison is smart, and she slowly works up to it. First she talks about Shakespeare in general, then Hamlet specifically, and then her favorite characters. Gradually she gets to the skull in the graveyard scene, and how the tiny drama budget means they’ll have to use a lousy paper maché prop. That’s when Georgia figures it out.

Of course she refuses to even consider the idea. It’s completely ridiculous and dangerous. Madison clears the table without being asked while I just listen to Georgia rave. looking at her with my best puppy dog eyes. (Which I could do to perfection even before Madison got the dog.) By bedtime, it’s settled. I’m going to be Yorick! At least my skull is.

I hug them both goodnight and before I go up to the attic, just this once I pat the dog.


You can read more about Sid in A Skeleton and the Family, the first book in the new “Family Skeleton” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.


Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of “A SKELETON AND THE FAMILY” to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends September 7; US entries only per publisher’s request.


Meet the author
Leigh Perry is the new pen name of Agatha-award winning author Toni L.P. Kelner. As Toni, she is the author the Laura Fleming Southern Mystery series, the “Where are they now?” mysteries, and many short stories; and co-edits New York Times bestselling urban fantasy anthologies with Charlaine Harris. As Leigh, she writes the Family Skeleton series. This “day with Sid” comes between the series debut A Skeleton and the Family (Sept. 2013) and the still-to-be-titled second book, in which Sid does indeed play Yorick in Hamlet. Leigh–and Toni–lives just north of Boston with her husband, two daughters, and two guinea pigs.

Visit Toni at her website, her blog, or on Facebook

Edit note: You can now visit Leigh at her new website.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.