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American/Cozy Mysteries

Murder of a Sleeping Beauty, Denise Swanson, Signet $5.99.

Murder of a Sleeping Beauty by Denise Swanson

Every time I read one of Denise Swanson's books a mantra sweeps through my brain - I don't read cozies - and yet, here I am, reading another one. I can't figure it out except that I enjoy Swanson's main character, school psychologist Skye Denison, so much that I just have to read the next one to see what will happen. Denise herself put me on the path to reading this book when I heard her on a panel describing the over achieving parents who push their kids beyond what the kids are interested in doing themselves.

In this novel, Skye finds a dead cheerleader in the gym - dressed for the school play as Sleeping Beauty. All of Swanson's resolutions and hooks have been interior, domestic, and often family related - this novel is no exception. As Denison goes about the job of counseling the kids - with many roadblocks thrown her way from an unhelpful (to say the least) principal - she starts to uncover parts of the dead beauty queen's life that make her suspicious. And Skye being Skye, she has to go ahead and find out what is going on.

Tossed into this mix is the wreck that is Skye's love life - if you had been rooting for the funeral director in past books, you may have to give that one up. This has one of the best explorations yet of Skye's function as a school psychologist, and the way she's able to interact with her students is wonderful. The subtext of the novel - the parents who have pushed their beautiful daughter to an unachievable perfection - is an interesting one as well. This author continues to hit pleasant, well written books out of the park.

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