Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Curious Cape Cod Skull: Review
The Curious Cape Cod Skull by Marie Lee is another mystery that has been sitting on the TBR list for quite a while. It is also an academically-inclined book--with the body finder and main character being a former science teacher and the victim and most of the suspects being university folk. And...thankfully, this one went over a heck of a lot better than my previous read.
As mentioned, Marguerite Smith is a retired science teacher who is preparing for a visit from her nephew Jeb and his sons. On schedule for the weekend is an introduction to clam digging for the youngsters. In anticipation of the outing, Marguerite heads out to her shed to unearth the clamming equipment--only to find the door securely locked (not something she regularly does). Her surprise does not end with the locked door, however. On the other side is a dead body.
The victim is one Peter DaFoe, a handsome Cambridge archeologist who had been in charge of an area excavation of an Ancient Native American homesite. And the murder has been carried out using a baseball bat stored in the shed. Police investigations turn up several suspects--from DaFoe's colleagues on the dig to his beautiful, straying wife (who just happens to benefit under a large insurance policy) to, surprise!, Marguerite's nephew Jeb. Having found the body and then having suspicion focus on her relations, Marguerite takes it upon herself to help the police get to the bottom of the mystery. And then her dog Rusty digs up another exhibit....an ancient skull in a fairly new plastic bag. Was this the reason DaFoe had to be silenced?
True to cozy mystery tradition, there are a lot coincidences and the improbable "help" given by the amateur. But the mystery is fast-paced and interesting and the main characters (Marguerite, the police officers and most of the suspects) are charming and well-drawn. Their voices ring true and they seem like real folks who might live in your home town. A very nice debut to a short series (only three books) . The only short-coming is the rather too-detailed archeological descriptions and run-down of how the family trees of the various blue-blood East Coast families. But it doesn't distract too much from the story. If I come across the other two, I will certainly give them a read. Three stars for a solid mystery.