I'm not sure what's so appealing with this series, but many of us enjoy reading novels that are blessed with a real-time, small-town coloring. As always the sense of a small community is rich, where 'everyone knows your name', individuals have more power over certain aspects of the town such as law and school, and where your business is never just your own. I suppose this makes it awfully convenient for a budding detective, as almost every Tom, Dick, and Harry you pass on the street corner can provide dirt on who you're inquiring on.
Yet again Skye pissed me off with being overly exuberant. In Murder of a sweet old lady I felt she could have shown a tad more sensitivity toward some of her family during a dreadful grieving time. Here she doesn't lack manners in those respects, but there is one circumstance where she went over the line in a big way in regard to her ex-boyfriend. I'm not sure how many people would agree with me here, as I know determination in murder investigations is the upmost important, but she seems to hold no qualm using the people she loves, and who love her, to meet her goal either. I have an issue with this, which I'm sure you can see here and with my past review of the second Scumble River offering. She's very goal orientated, yet sometimes to the point where she alienates others close to her.
As for the other characters - Wally? Get over it, man. You're now looking like an ass who overdoes it. Simon? Quit changing personalities like underwear. Mom? Give it up on the finding man expedition.
In the first book it's clear Skye is a full-figured heroine, although that's not touched upon as much in the second book, Murder of a sweet old lady. Here it's discussed more than ever, with one especially awkward moment with Chief Wally and the word 'fat'. Comments on Skye's weight in general grew more abundant with this sequel, but as always it never seems to bother the protagonist (thank God).
The premise of the book - parents pushing their children to over achievement - is a worthy thing to take note of. It's a clear case of warning against overzealousness on the behalf of parents and their kids, or else on the character's viewpoint of yuckiness of beauty pageants, whichever moral you choose to carry away with you.
Despite some of the characters flaws turning me off, the mystery is a good one, with the ending revelation being a surprise and oh-so tragic. The ending stands as one of its best qualities, for it's powerful, heady stuff.
I suppose that as always with this series, I recommend this book for fans of the cozies who'd like a light, intriguing read, but for those itching for something darker, look elsewhere. I'm not giving the book 3 stars due to my qualms with the character, though obviously this would lower my enjoyment of the book at times, but instead because it doesn't stand out as anything overly special. It's enjoyable while reading, but not something you stampede over your loved ones to get back to, and not something you'll remember too heavily as the weeks pass by.