"Scout didn't seem to hear me. She was bent over her plate,
hunting for more crumbs. Here, finally, was proof that Venus was
having an affair. Which undoubtedly had something to do with her
murder. There was only one problem, and I was staring at it. Why
would anyone believe a homeless, mentally ill, substance-abusing,
larcenous teen survivor of child sexual abuse over the impeccable and
illustrious Carter Langdon III?"
Late autumn when we set the clocks back and darkness falls
disquietingly early is a perfect time for chilling suspense stories.
A little past Halloween and Day of the Dead I was at the library
scanning shelves. When I saw nine little vividly decorated sugar
skulls grinning up at me I grabbed the book whose cover they adorned.
I found Denise Hamilton's Sugar Skulls to be a most excellent mystery.
Reporter Eve is halfway through her first cup of coffee when she
is accosted by a distraught father. His well off private school
educated teenage daughter, Isabel, has vanished. He's afraid her
disappearance has something to do with the street kids she's started
hanging with, possibly the work of their charasmatic leader, Finch.
At the squat (officially abandoned building) the teens have been
occuppying they discover her body.
Following up on the murder, Eve discovers that Isabel is part of
a "disturbing new trend": well off, rebellious kids from intact
families befriending street kids, many with double (drug abuse and
psychological challenges) diagnoses in very unsafe places. She's able
to track down another of these youths, Paolo, at a home publicity
event for his father, Carter Langdon III, who is running for mayor.
The next day Carter's campaign is hit with a major league
obstacle. His wife, Venus, is dead. A gardener discovered her dead
body floating nude in her swimming pool. Although Carter was out of
town when the homicide went down, the sheets in a poolside villa are
damp and rumpled. Other evidence points to an illicit tryst.
In the amazing coincidences rampant in mystery novels (although
rarely so neatly occurring in real life) the two murders are connected
not only with each other, but with the shooting death of Ruben,
favored son and heir apparant to a family Hispanic promotion business
who had ditched it to start his pool cleaning business. Somehow
ubiquitous sugar skulls tie the crimes together.
And unless Finch, safely locked up in jail, is the killer other
people are in peril.
On a personal note, I was having trouble with my grad school
application. Fortunately Colleen, who is in the program I want to get
into, helped me pull it together. She and some of her classmates have
been so encouraging and supportive I've dubbed them my fairy
godsquad. I'm beginning to think Juleserella will make her (my) dream
come true with no egotistical Prince Charming or painful glass slippers.
A great big shout out goes out to my fairy godsquad and my editor
friend, Matt, who really helped me improve my essay.
Sent from my iPod