The Skirt Man
Shelly Reuben
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Buy *The Skirt Man: A Mystery* by Shelly Reuben online

The Skirt Man: A Mystery
Shelly Reuben
Harcourt
Hardcover
256 pages
June 2006
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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Morgan Mason is The Skirt Man, a local eccentric in the village of Killdeer, NY, who goes about his daily business on the farm in a skirt. Long taken for granted by the locals, Mason is just another crusty old-timer who irritates the newcomers, developers from the city who see the potential in rising real estate values.

In a collage of city versus country personalities, private agendas and changing worldviews, the villagers simply want their land to remain the same, generations passing on the land from one to another; all the while the rabid developers are howling at the door. Everything comes to a head the night there is a fire at Masonís dilapidated farmhouse and his charred remains are found smoldering in the ruins.

Enter Sebastian and Annie Bly and Annieís brother, Billy Nightingale. Annie is a local reporter for a small-time newspaper, Sebastian a state police officer; Billy is a supervising fire marshal for the New York City Police department. After a cursory investigation, the fire appears to be of accidental origin, but the subsequent autopsy says itís murder.

Annie, Sebastian and Billy have worked together before (Tabula Rasa), their combined skills perfect for solving such complicated crimes, Annie a willing co-conspirator in her husband and brotherís adventures. Annie relates anecdotes about her job, her husband and her family with her usual self-deprecating humor, describing a variety of characters, some lovable, others unlikable, but all viewed from Annieís quirky perspective.

The landscape may be bucolic, but the village of Killdeer and Hobby Hills Horse Farm, currently a weekend concert arena, are plagued by petty crime. There is more here than meets the eye: backroom deals and general corruption, the sale of illegal drugs, endangering minors, tax fraud and corporate scams.

Reuben approaches the murder in the patchwork style of the village residents, each with a vital piece of information that makes no sense until put together with the others, incriminating evidence that suggests more than murder. Besides the mysterious death of an old man, a way of life is threatened, and it is Reubenís colorful characters who put a familiar face on an exurban tragedy.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Luan Gaines, 2006

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