Welcome to Skary, Indiana. The setting of Rene Gutteridge's latest novel, BOO WHO, Skary is an unlikely town full of unlikely people doing unlikely things. But if you can get past all of that, you're in for a charming little tale in which the past must be uncovered in order to save the future.
The story opens and it's not long before everyone is in turmoil--- Thief the cat, the sheriff, the mayor, the townspeople, even Skary itself. Until recently, the town had prided itself on being home to the world's most popular horror writer, Wolfe "Boo" Boone, and therefore, the spookiest town around. Everyone got into the act with attractions including the Haunted Mansion restaurant and Sbooky's bookstore. Even the local "wildlife" --- the small town's population of cats outnumbers people --- fed into the theme.
But a few weeks ago Wolfe Boone had a transformation. He almost died, became a Christian, and hung up his horror-writing cap. In fact, he stopped writing completely and is, instead, trying to sell cars down at Oliver Stepaphanolopolis's car lot. Now the town and its people don't know quite what to do with themselves.
Without the tourism revenue Boone's fans brought into the community, Skary is on the verge of civic collapse. The stress has caused Mayor Wullisworth to break with reality. He's running around town in Bermuda shorts and sunglasses in the winter, insisting it's balmy outside.
Missy Peoples, Skary's oldest and most despised resident, decides to take matters into her own hands. She determines that their cat population is the town's new meal ticket and buys ads in major newspapers advertising Skary as a cat lover's paradise. No one seems excited about this idea, much to her chagrin.
Melb Cornforth is getting ready for her upcoming wedding to Oliver Stepaphanolopolis. But she has to lose four dress sizes to fit into her wedding gown. Things aren't looking good when she goes back for thirds at Ainsely Parker's Christmas dinner.
Of course, no one would blame Melb for eating three helpings of Ainsley's food. The local domestic diva, daughter of the Sheriff and fiancée to Wolfe Boone, is on track to become the next Martha Stewart thanks to the cajoling of Wolfe's former editor. But a meltdown is waiting in the wings as she tries to plan her own wedding and take up Martha's mantle.
Add to all of this some strange "ghost people" who started appearing around town, a phony psychologist who has more patients than he can handle, a pastor who has started charging for bulletins and coffee on Sunday mornings, and an owl that keeps asking the all-important question, "Who, Whooo," and you have a community for which the word "quirky" was invented.
And maybe, that's just the way it's supposed to be. Because when Martin Blarty, yet another character in this community's cast, goes in search of something that will save Skary, what he finds reminds everyone who they are and why Skary exists in the first place.
BOO WHO is technically a sequel to BOO, but it stands alone quite well. Just put the plausibility meter away and settle in some small-town mystery, hijinks, and humor.
--- Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel
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