Skye Denison, school psychologist and amateur sleuth, has taken a summer job as the project coordinator of the first annual Route 66 Yard Sale, a bargain hunter's paradise that stretches through 100 miles of small-town America and lasts nine days. But when the body of a local antique dealer is found shoved into an old liquor cabinet and, shortly afterward, an octogenarian resident is found impaled on an antique sword, Skye must find the murderer posthaste -- because, as everyone knows, nothing ruins a yard sale like a serial killer on the loose. Throw in a highly aggressive television host, a corpse with some kinky skeletons in her closet, a lion on the loose, and a grab bag of relationship meltdowns, and Skye definitely has her hands full!
Murder of a Smart Cookie, the seventh book in Denise Swanson's Scumble River Mystery series (Murder of a Pink Elephant, Murder of a Barbie and Ken, et al.), is noteworthy in large part for its richly described setting of Scumble River, Illinois, which features the very best (and very worst) of small-town living. The diverse populace of Scumble River is equally memorable: From Bunny, the oversexed bowling alley owner, to Skye's high-strung mother, May, and carousing father, Jed, Swanson's adeptly realized characters (and their antics) will stay with readers for a long, long time. The numerous folksy words of wisdom throughout ("Men are like Ziploc bags. They hold everything in, but you can see right through them"), as well as the jaw-dropping ending, make this novel an absolute delight to read. Highly recommended. Paul Goat Allen