Considering the misadventure Rebecca found herself caught up in upon her return to Indian Falls in series debut Skating Around The Law, you really would think the concept that impulsive = bad would have sunk in a little deeper. Fortunately for readers it did not, as Rebecca returns for another rollicking adventure in author Joelle Charbonneau’s second Rebecca Robbins mystery, Skating Over the Line.
Still stuck in tiny Indian Falls trying to unload the roller rink she inherited from her mother, things seem to be looking up for Rebecca when her realtor informs her a buyer has finally been located. Rebecca’s escape back to Chicago is interrupted, however, when her grandfather, Pop, and the folks down at the Senior Center implore Rebecca to help locate a car which has been stolen.
Despite having run afoul of Deputy Sean Holmes for her unwanted “assistance” investigating the town’s last crime wave, Rebecca just can’t say no to Pop, the man who helped raise Rebecca after her father walked out when she was twelve. Unfortunately, things get complicated quickly when the missing car turns up ablaze in a cornfield, Rebecca’s deadbeat father blows back into town – and promptly goes missing, along with his car – and a group of menacing men start lurking around the roller rink leaving poorly penned threatening notes… in Spanish.
Throw in a sexually frustrated best friend who’s trying to snag the local Lutheran Pastor, a new rink manager who’s more obsessed with directing his film than doing his job, Rebecca’s gorgeous but slightly patronizing boyfriend, Pop’s wildly popular at the Senior Center Elvis impersonator act, and Rebecca is in for another off-the-wall adventure.
As she did in Skating Around The Law, Charbonneau once again makes Indian Falls come alive in the most vivid and charming manner. The town’s wacky, though well-intentioned, citizens are one of the most colorful casts you are likely to encounter outside a Crayola box. Far from making them over-the-top buffoons, however, Charbonneau’s skillful character development and attention to detail makes each a lovably endearing individual you can easily imagine encountering in the type of a small town where everyone knows each other’s business.
Things aren’t all fun and games though, as Charbonneau uses the reappearance of Rebecca’s father to address the lingering commitment issues Rebecca suffers from as a result of that early abandonment. She’s deeply attracted to her boyfriend Lionel, the handsome and intelligent town veterinarian and volunteer firefighter, yet she can’t seem to bring herself to take the next step in their relationship. Similarly, while Rebecca wants to hold onto the grudge she’s been carrying against her father all these years, at the same time she finds herself questioning whether he doesn’t deserve a second chance. They’re complicated emotions for a wonderfully complicated character, one with more depth than you usually expect to encounter in a “cozy” style mystery.
Indeed, Rebecca Robbins is a breath of fresh air in a mystery world seemingly populated with either damsels in distress or female Rambo wannabes. A smart cookie with just the right amount of sass, Rebecca is tough and worldly when the situation calls for it, but still just a laid-back small town girl at heart. And if you give them a chance, Rebecca and the rest of the Indian Falls crew will steal your heart.
Skating Over the Line is available from Minotaur Books (ISBN: 978-0312606626).