"Sid is on the job when a young woman is found dead in a haunted house."
Reviewed by Leanne Davis
Posted March 16, 2016
Mystery Cozy | Mystery Paranormal
Georgia and her skeleton, Sid, are attending the haunted
house's opening night on campus. Not only is her daughter
working there but Georgia's sister is in charge. When a
body is found, everyone has to prevent the cops from
finding out about Sid's presence.
Using her contacts in the world of associate professors,
Georgia reaches out to learn more about the murdered girl.
Georgia comes home to find her parents have returned from
sabbatical early. She was living in their home since her
job as an
associate professor doesn't pay much. Life is about to
change in more
than one way.
Once they retrieve Sid, he uses his computer skills to
about why someone would want to kill such a
popular girl. Together, the two of them will learn more
about cyber bullying and the damage it can cause.
THE SKELETON HAUNTS A HOUSE, Leigh Perry's third entry in
Family Skeleton series, is
a winner. Perry's ability to make the reader believe in a
living skeleton is amazing, and the characters are a big
of making the story work. Georgia is a proud mother but
worries about money a lot; the life of an associate
professor is not an easy one. Georgia and her family work
well together despite their differences. The mystery is
thought provoking without being overwhelmingly dark. The
topic is timely and makes people aware of the damage
people can do in an online presence.
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
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
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
well case the joint to figure out who used the cover of
darkness to commit the perfect crime…
ExcerptMost people wear Halloween costumes in order to look
scarier, but my best friend Sid had picked his to look
He’d already climbed into the full-body fur suit, and I
reached up to put the head on.
“How’s that? Is it straight?”
“I think so,” he said, “but it’s hard to breathe in
“You don’t need to breathe.” I wasn’t being mean. Sid
really doesn’t need to breathe. In fact, he can’t breathe
because technically, he isn’t even alive. He died over
twenty years ago, and like most people who’d died that
far back, all that’s left of him is a skeleton. Unlike
most people—unlike any other people at all, as far as I
knew—Sid has come back to…Well, if not to life, then back
to consciousness, movement, and a penchant for watching
old cartoons. He also has a passion for Halloween, since
it’s one of the few times he can go out in public.
One might think that Sid’s usual boney appearance was
already right on target for Halloween and in previous
years he’d dressed as Death, the Grim Reaper, and Jolly
Roger. However, recent incidents had linked skeletons and
my family a little too publicly, and we’d decided that
something more discreet was called for. Besides, Sid had
run out of skeletal-themed costume ideas and was ready to
try something new.
“How do I look?” He spun around slowly so I could see him
in all his furry glory.
I reached up and straightened the green vinyl collar
around his neck. “Not bad. I would never have recognized
you.” That was, of course, the point of a full-body-
covering getup. “Let’s hear the voice.”
“Scooby dooby dooooo!” he crowed.
“Excellent!” It wasn’t the best Scooby-Doo imitation I’d
ever heard, but it wasn’t the worst, either. “Why don’t
you practice moving around while I get my costume on? And
remember you’re over a foot taller than usual, and a lot
bigger around. Be careful and don’t step on the dog! The
real dog, I mean.”
Byron, my daughter Madison’s Akita, had been solemnly
watching the costuming process. I didn’t think he
acknowledged the cartoon Great Dane as a fellow canine,
and even if he had, Sid’s imposture would not have caused
any latent affection to develop. Byron and Sid have a
love-hate relationship. Byron would love to chew on Sid
again, and Sid hated the memory of him doing so.
I left Sid stumbling around the living room, wincing as
his tail nearly knocked a vase off of an end table, and
went upstairs to my room to get ready. Since I was going
as Scooby’s buddy Velma, my outfit was considerably
easier to get on, and fortunately for my budget, had been
made up of things in my house rather than rented from an
expensive costume shop. I was wearing an old turtleneck
sweater I’d dyed orange with a brick red corduroy skirt
that I hadn’t worn in years. Once I added orange knee-
highs and an old pair of sunglasses from which I’d poked
out the lenses, all I had left to do was curl under my
When I got back downstairs, I did my own twirl. “What do
He put his paw onto his chin. “Your skirt is too long.”
“I hemmed it two inches shorter than any other skirt I
own—that’s as far as I’m willing to go.”
“Isn’t Velma’s skirt pleated?”
“I didn’t have a pleated skirt, and besides, have you
ever tried hemming a pleated skirt?”
“I don’t know about the shoes.”
“I am not buying a pair of shoes for one night.”
“And your hair is too long.”
“Sid!” I said. “I’m only dressing up to keep you company,
not entering a most-authentic-costume contest!”
“Yeah, okay. Just say your lines!”
“Jinkies! I think we have a mystery here!”
I pulled the glasses off and put them behind me. “My
glasses! I can’t see without my glasses!”
“Scooby dooby doo!” He held up a paw for a high five, but
managed to miss.
“Dude, I’m the one who lost my glasses!” I said, putting
them back on my nose.
“Sorry. It’s not easy to see in this head. Shall we go?”
“Just as soon as we go over the ground rules.”
“Again?” He gave an exasperated sigh. “Don’t take off any
piece of my costume until we get back home. Don’t go
running around alone. Stay in character. Keep my phone
The phone rule had caused some problems since the costume
had no pockets and Sid wasn’t wearing anything else, but
I’d found a conference badge holder with a sturdy lanyard
and a pocket big enough to hold the phone. Sid had it
around his neck under the suit, and if necessary, could
wriggle around to use it. It wouldn’t have been possible
for a normal human, but most of what Sid did was
impossible for a normal human.
“Good.” I checked that Byron’s food and water dishes were
filled, grabbed my pocketbook, and said, “Let’s go!”
“I don’t think Velma carried a purse.”
It took a little maneuvering to get Sid into the front
seat of my green minivan with his head on. With anybody
else, I’d have suggested he remove it for the duration,
but since we didn’t want to give any children nightmares
from seeing a skull on top of Scooby’s body, I just
crammed him in and let him complain.
It wasn’t a long drive, anyway, though it took more time
than it did most days because of the traffic. We were
heading for the Halloween Howl, Pennycross’s annual
celebration of all things spooky and scary. There were
events scheduled at venues all around town, but McQuaid
University—where I worked—was the epicenter. The Howl had
started as a student Halloween party before morphing into
the current month-long extravaganza. It wasn’t as famous
as the Haunted Happenings in Salem, but it drew pretty
big crowds from the western part of Massachusetts. We
were still three weeks away from October 31 but the fair
that was the main draw would be running all three
weekends leading up to the big day, fortunately on a
Saturday this year.
Normally I enter campus at the main entrance on Elm
Street, but the tree-lined street was closed to vehicle
traffic for several blocks to make room for the carnival
midway, whose lights I could see as I approached.
Instead, I drove around to the back entrance, hoping the
faculty parking pass that was one of the few perks of
being an adjunct English professor would enable me to
find a decent spot. Luck was with me—I snagged one of the
last half dozen spots in the lot nearest the festivities.
The campus quad was normally a tranquil oasis of grass
and stately oak trees, but tonight it was filled with
tents for selling food and drink; campus club fundraising
activities like a dunking booth and a cakewalk; a
bandstand and dance area; and community arts and crafts
I tugged my overly short skirt down a bit and helped Sid
out of the car. After we made sure his head was on
straight, I said, “Lead the way, Scooby. It’s your night
“Thanks, Velma,” he said in a passable rendition of
Scooby’s accent, and grabbed my hand to pull me along.
I didn’t blame him for being excited. Since Sid had come
to live with my family back when I was six, ninety-nine
point something percent of his time had been spent inside
our house. Any opportunity to get out was a treat—being
able to cavort in public was like Christmas.
He wasn’t the only one cavorting—the campus was hopping.
And dancing and slithering and creeping and all the verbs
that went along with the Halloween Howl. The McQuaid
security officers were the only ones I saw who weren’t in
costume. Sid played his character to the hilt, pretending
to be frightened of a crowd of zombies, boogying with a
lady vampire, and joining the tail end of a conga line
composed of masked superheroes.
By then it was fully dark and I was getting chilly, which
Sid noticed despite the fun he was having.
“You okay, Geor—Velma?”
“I’m fine,” I said, though I was starting to wish I’d
rented a fur costume of my own. “I’ll grab some hot
cider. That’ll warm me up.”
“Wait! I know! Let’s go to McHades Hall!”
“No, cider will be fine.”
“Come on!” Sid said, and grabbed my arm again to pull me
through the crowd toward the front corner of the quad
where a particularly bustling building loomed.
McQuaid Hall was the oldest building on campus, but the
out-of-date, poorly maintained structure needed so many
repairs that it was rarely used for anything but photo
ops until a member of the McQuaid Scholars Committee
realized that the place bore a striking resemblance to
the Addams family mansion in the old TV show. So what
better way to raise money for scholarships than to
convert it to a haunted house every year, and rename it
McHades Hall for the occasion?
McHades was one of the star attraction of the Howl. I
understood the haunt was one of the best in our part of
the country, but I’d managed to avoid setting foot in the
place. I was hoping to maintain that record, but three
things were working against me. One, my sister, Deborah,
was in charge of McHades this year. Two, my daughter,
Madison, was working there. And three, Sid had a death
grip on my hand.
As we got closer, we saw that the line of people waiting
get in snaked along the sidewalk. “Oh darn,” I said in
relief, “we’ll never make it through that line. Let’s hit
“Don’t worry, Deborah will get us in,” Sid said, pulling
me past the gathered ghoulies, ghosties, and long-legged
beasties to the tent where Deborah watched over a pair of
ticket sellers, talking into a walkie-talkie.
Sid cheerily said, “Hi, Deborah! It’s me, Scooby!”
Deborah looked resigned. My sister was a locksmith, which
she said meant that she dealt in hard facts that made
sense. Since Sid did not make sense, she had a more
difficult time accepting Sid than I did. “I figured you
guys would be showing up,” she said unenthusiastically.
Sid lowered his voice to what he thought was a
conspiratorial whisper. “I don’t suppose you can sneak us
past the line, can you?”
“You’re in a fur suit,” she said dryly. “Not exactly easy
“Aw, come on, Deborah—”
“But as it happens, Madison reserved will-call passes for
you two so you can go in with the next party.” She handed
an orange cardboard ticket to Sid, then tried to give me
“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll wait out here.”
“You don’t want to go in?” Sid said.
“Not even to see Madison give her spiel?”
“She did it for me at the house.”
“You’re not still freaked out about—”
“No, I’m not,” I lied. “I just don’t like going in front
of all these other people. You go ahead.”
“Are you sure?”
“The next party is leaving now,” Deborah said, though I’m
not sure if she was taking pity on me or getting rid of
Sid. Either way, he scurried off to join a group. A young
Snow White immediately announced that Scooby would
protect her from any monsters, and reached up to hold his
“Isn’t that cute?” I said.
“It’s not going to be cute when she comes out of the
She pointed at a sign on the ticket booth.
McHades Hall is too scary for the following:
People with weak hearts.
Those who faint easily.
Children who frighten easily.
Enter at your own risk—no refunds!
“Yow. Maybe you guys should tone it down a little.”
“If we tone it down, people complain because they feel
cheated. We’re not talking McKamey Manor or Blackout, but
we are trying to scare people. That is the point, after
“Just because you don’t like haunted houses—”
“I know, I know. I’m a wimp.”
She shrugged. “You can see we’ve got plenty of customers
without you.” If anything, the line had gotten longer
since we’d been talking. “Come Halloween, people are
going to be waiting for two hours to get in. I just hope
my cast lasts. All that screaming and scaring is hard
“So how long is Sid going to be in there?”
“It takes about half an hour to go through.”
“Then I think I’ll go get a hot dog.”
“Bring back hot dogs and fries for me and my ticket
sellers, and I’ll pay for yours.”
I ran into my friend Charles along the way, and stopped
to chat for a bit. Then with the line at the concession
stand for hot dogs and the difficulty of carrying my load
through the ever-increasing crowd, I was gone
considerably longer than half an hour. When I finally got
back, I handed Deborah the sack of food, reached in to
grab a hot dog and a mustard packet for myself, and
asked, “Isn’t Scooby out yet?”
“Out and back in again. He was making a hairy nuisance—”
“What?” She made a face. “God, you’re as bad as he is. He
was making a nuisance of himself while waiting for you,
so I gave him another ticket.”
“Jinkies. I guess he enjoyed it.”
“Something weird about a . . .” She looked around and
apparently decided too many people were in earshot.
“About a guy like Scooby liking a haunted house, don’t
“You know, he volunteered to work here for you.”
“Madison told me. Thanks, but no thanks. We only hire
“Suit yourself.” It was probably just as well. The other
cast members might have noticed there was something odd
about my pal.
I’d just finished my second hot dog when the first
screams came. Well, to be fair, people had been screaming
the whole time, attesting to the success of the scare
actors’ efforts, but these came via Deborah’s walkie-
“What’s going on in there?” she demanded of whoever was
on the other end.
The response was loud enough that I could hear it
plainly. “There’s a dead body in here!”
What do you think about this review?
2 comments posted.
Re: Sid is on the job when a young woman is found dead in a haunted house.
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(Henry McClean 11:13am September 20)
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