Things have been pretty hectic for Rebecca Robbins since she left Chicago and returned to her tiny hometown of Indian Falls, Illinois. She had hoped to make a quick sale of the Toe Stop roller-skating rink she inherited upon her mother’s death, but five months later she’s still stuck in town trying to unload the place. Of course that’s not the only thing that’s been occupying her time.
She’s also dealt with a murder in one of the rink’s bathrooms (Skating Around The Law), had an on-again, off-again romance with the local veterinarian, made friends with a hat-wearing camel named Elwood (yes, you read that correctly), been roped into tracking down a stolen car, seen her deadbeat dad blow back into town, been mortified by her grandfather’s Elvis impersonator act down at the Senior Center, and faced menace from a group of mariachis (trust me, read Skating Over The Line if you’ve not already).
You’d think all that would be hard to top in the excitement department. You’d be wrong.
Skating on the Edge, the third book in the wonderfully wacky Rebecca Robbins mystery series, finds Rebecca dealing with a whole slate of new challenges. Things get off to a fast start when a death occurs at the Indian Falls Native American Summer Days festival. Rebecca was supposed to be the “target” in the Senior Center’s dunk tank, but roped someone else into taking her place at the last minute. When her replacement, Sherlene-n-Mean, a member of the roller-derby team which operates out of the Toe Stop, is electrocuted upon being dunked into the water Rebecca is left to wonder who was actually the intended target. And despite her past run-ins with local law enforcement and admonishment from them to stop playing amateur sleuth, Rebecca has no intention of sitting around waiting for someone else to solve the murder.
With Skating on the Edge, author Joelle Charbonneau once again demonstrates why she’s fast becoming the reigning queen of the hard-edged cozy. (Is that even a term? If it’s not, it should be.) While the Rebecca Robins mysteries have many elements one associates with a traditional cozy (an extremely colorful cast of supporting characters, a healthy dose of comedy), they also have a fair amount of violence, albeit low-key, and action. Rebecca herself also represents this dichotomy. Though she’s a bit impulsive and would never be confused for Xena: Warrior Princess, she nevertheless is more than willing to roll up her sleeves and get to the bottom of things, even if it means getting shot at in the process.
After all, is facing a bullet really scarier than dealing with the Elvis impersonator antics of her grandfather, complete with adoring septuagenarian fans down at the Senior Center, or fulfilling maid of honor duties by going on a hunt for a wedding dress…with members of a roller-derby team named EstroGenocide in tow?
Fans of Rebecca will be delighted with Skating on the Edge, while newcomers will find it a great introduction to the series, which does not have to be read in order. And even if you think you’re not a cozy reader, I encourage you to give Rebecca and the Indian Falls community a chance to win you over; they’ve made a convert out of me.
Skating on the Edge is available from Minotaur Books (ISBN: 978-0312606633).