When Rebecca Robbins returns home to tiny Indian Falls, Illinois she initially thinks she has one problem to deal with – selling the roller rink she inherited from her mother – but ends up with something decidedly more ominous on her hands… a dead body in one of the roller rink’s bathrooms.
Though at first it looks like an accident or suicide given the bottle of prescription pills found nearby, the town’s doctor / coroner soon rules it a homicide making Rebecca’s task of selling the roller rink even more difficult. (Who wants to buy a murder scene?)
And if a dead body throwing a monkey wrench into her plans to make a quick sale and hightail it back to Chicago wasn’t bad enough, the glacial pace – and incompetence – of local law enforcement’s investigation makes the prospect of Rebecca ever getting out of Dodge look downright grim.
What’s a girl to do? Take matters into her own hands, of course. So, with the “help” of her grandfather, Pop, Rebecca becomes a reluctant detective… and finds more than she expected.
Author Joelle Charbonneau has obviously drawn upon her extensive experience in the performing arts to give each of her characters a strong, and unique, voice. From Rebecca (who has a wonderful mix of whimsy and level-headedness), to Pop (who’s both well connected and disturbingly “active” in the town’s retired community), to Neil (Rebecca’s seriously misguided boss and would-be suitor), to Lionel (the veterinarian Rebecca loves to hate… or is it hates to love?), to Elwood the camel, every character has an incredibly rich, fully realized personality (yes, a camel can have a personality… trust me on this.)
A few of the situations Rebecca finds herself in are reminiscent of the early Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich (when they were still fresh and funny), though Charbonneau wisely never veers into the all-out slapstick territory that Plum frequently ends up in. Rather, Charbonneau has managed to deftly balance a healthy dose of comedy with a serious and engaging mystery. Add to that pitch perfect descriptions of the ins and outs of small town living and Skating Around the Law hits so many right notes it’s like reading an exquisitely conducted symphony.