Monday, December 2, 2013

Cozy Monday Book Review ~ Murder of a Barbie and Ken by Denise Swanson

We’re stopping today at a small town located by a river just outside of the big Windy City of Chicago. Our stop? Scumble River! This was my first visit to the quaint, cozy, laid back town, and I’m quite fond of making another visit. All of the towns people you will meet are different in the own way, but very likeable. We will tour the town with Skye Denison who is the school psychologist. She most likely will take us to an Instant Gourmet Food home party or ask for our help in testing some of the children at the local elementary.

Title: Murder of a Barbie and Ken
Series: A Scumble River Mystery #5
Author: Denise Swanson
Publish Date: November 2003
Publisher: Signet
Source: borrowed from Library

I had heard so much about this series in other reviews, but I could never get a hold of book one at my library. Totally frustrated with that situation, I decided to grab the earliest book they had in the series, this one, and was totally entertained. I did not feel like I was lost having started with book five. I think the author gave enough back story to keep a reader in the loop, but not too much that I would know all the entire past events and be bored with going back to previous installments.

Characters: I loved the title Ken and Barbie and yes that’s exactly what they were. Reputations and appearances to maintain. What fascinated me the most was the Scumble River social clubs. There is both a male and female club, they do interact sometimes, but with voting and other major decisions the females are left out. Simon’s mom was a hoot. Annoying as she was for some, she definitely provided some entertainment value. I couldn’t help but like her.

Location and Setting: I liked Scumble River. Having been to the outskirts of Chicago, I really liked the details of the little town. To me the town is still behind the times, sort of, and trying to catch up or they just have a pace of their own. Who wouldn’t want to live at that pace sometimes.

Crime: I had a difficult one guess the suspect on this one for most of the book. A little tricky with where it took place and who likely had qualms with them both. Skye was a fun sleuth to hang out with in the little town of Scumble. She was both daring and smart and I loved how she tried to keep the young sleuths out of the picture.

Romance: I loved how they felt like they needed to keep it on the down low. The romance was very mild.

Denise Swanson, the New York Times best-selling author of an award-winning romantic mystery series, began writing after coming face-to-face with evil. She quickly decided she would rather write about villains than encounter them in her daily life. She was also shocked to discover that getting a book published was nearly as difficult as vanquishing scoundrels.

Her continuing Scumble River Mystery series is set in Scumble River, a fictional small town in Illinois, and features Skye Denison, a full-figured school psychologist-sleuth who is torn between a handsome police chief and an urbane coroner. All of her books are in multiple printings and many have featured in Barnes & Noble Mass-Market Mystery, IMBA and BookScan Best-Sellers lists. Five of her recent books, Murder of a Stacked Librarian, Murder of the Cat's Meow, Murder of a Wedding Belle, Murder of a Bookstore Babe and Murder of a Creped Suzette, d├ębuted on The New York Times Best-Sellers List! Murder of a Stacked Librarian is the 16th and latest book in this series.

Scumble River Mystery series

     Book 1 — July 2000: Murder of a Small-Town Honey
     Book 2 — April 2001: Murder of a Sweet Old Lady
     Book 3 — April 2002: Murder of a Sleeping Beauty
     Book 4 — April 2003: Murder of a Snake in the Grass
     Book 5 — November 2003: Murder of a Barbie and Ken
     Book 6 — July 2004: Murder of a Pink Elephant
     Book 7 — July 2005: Murder of a Smart Cookie
     Book 8 — August 2006: Murder of a Real Bad Boy
     Book 9 — April 2007: Murder of a Botoxed Blonde
     Book 10 — April 2008: Murder of a Chocolate-Covered Cherry
     Book 11 — April 2009: Murder of a Royal Pain
     Book 12 — April 2010: Murder of a Wedding Belle
     Book 13 — March 2011: Murder of a Bookstore Babe
     Book 14 — October 2011: Murder of a Creped Suzette
     Book 15 — September 2012: Murder of the Cat's Meow
     Book 16 — September 2013: Murder of a Stacked Librarian

Her new Devereaux's Dime Store Mystery series features Devereaux Sinclair, the happy owner of the old-fashioned shop in Shadow Bend, a small town near Kansas City, Missouri. If only murder didn't keep landing on her doorstep...

Devereaux's Dime Store Mystery series
Book 1 — March 2012: Little Shop of Homicide
Book 2 — March 2013: Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death

Denise was nominated for RT Magazine's Career Achievement Award. Her fellow nominees included Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. She has spoken at hundreds of library events and other civic organizations. She has also been interviewed on radio and TV.

Denise Swanson lives in Illinois with her husband, classical composer David Stybr, and their cool black cat Boomerang. Unlike her protagonist Skye, Denise realizes she can never really move very far from her hometown. But several times a year she and Dave sneak away for a little adventure.

For more information, please check her website