The latest Scumble River mystery has a plot with panache, light comic touches and skillfully rendered characters. Even the rural town itself becomes part of the story when sleepy Scumble River's peaceful setting is threatened.

Something strange is going on with school psychologist Skye's high school students. Everyone seems to be acting weird, including Skye's brother and his band. When someone is murdered during a high school dance, Skye's instincts tell her that all of this, including the strange way chief of police Wally is treating her, is somehow connected.

Skye as a character is a particular joy: She's an overweight heroine who never lets her extra pounds stop her in any way. She's got a loyal boyfriend and a good job. Despite criticism from others, she's happy with herself.

Swanson's other strength is throwing a bunch of disparate elements into the mix and having everything come out cleverly connected. This she does once again, with writing as sassy and smart as ever. (Jul., 272 pp., $5.99)
Reviewed by: 
Cindy Harrison