Lovely in Her Bones (Elizabeth MacPherson, #2)

ISBN: 0345360354
ISBN 13: 9780345360359
By: Sharyn McCrumb

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About this book

" Who but Sharyn McCrumb can make a skull with a bullet hole funny? Those who like sardonic wit, slightly bent characters, and good fun will love LOVELY IN HER BONES." Tony HillermanThe sequel to SICK OF SHADOWS.When an Appalachian dig to determine if an obscure Indian tribe in North Carolina can lay legal claim to the land they live on is stopped on account of murder, Elizabeth MacPherson -- eager student of the rites of the past and mysteries of the present -- starts digging deep. And when she mixes a little modern know-how with some old-fashioned suspicions, Elizabeth comes up with a batch of answers that surprise even the experts....

Reader's Thoughts


I loved this book and could hardly put it down. It was fun, exciting, and informative. McCrumb always throws in some tidbits of Southern history, trivia, and spices things up with local sayings and customs. This was no exception, and I can highly recommend it!


I love these books. It's the kind of book you finish and just wish so badly that the characters were real and you were friends with all of them - - well, most of them. They're never too heavy, always creative, and the characters are the real jems - - they're what keep you coming back for more. I love the way Milo and Elizabeth's relationship is developing and the I get the watch it grow from the start.


If it has skeletal remains chances are good, I liked it.


Started great and going slow now (part of this is a time issue for me)

Terry Southard

I would really give this 3 1/2 stars if that were possible. I know this was one of the first in the series, so I anticipate them getting better as we go along. I liked it enough to go on the next one, certainly. Not as good as her later "ballad series" books. But a fun summer read.

Ray Charbonneau

The butler didn't do it.


I'd read such great reviews for this book: I kept thinking it's going to get better any minute now ... then I thought maybe I'm reading the wrong book ... you know, one with a similar title .. but no this was the book people were raving about. I don't know why? It was an elementary attempt at a mystery and not on par with the writers like Tony Hillerman or J.A. Jance at all. Now they're mystery writers.


Maybe I should have read the first one, but it was on the work bookshelf one day when I had some time. The story started out with possiblities, but it was blah, the murder was unbelievable and the characters flat. Not sure I would try this author again.

Amy Bunn

I was really disappointed in this book. I've read one of McCrumb's Ballad series and found it to be an enjoyable read, and my husband, a big fan of hers, handed me this book with an earnest expression on his face and said "I think you'll like it." I wanted to like it, but wanting does not make it so.First of all, as another reviewer noted, this book comes off as a little dated. It was written in 1985, and technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since then. While the outdated equipment doesn't have a major effect on the storyline, it does jar the reader when it appears. I certainly felt like rolling my eyes a time or two.Secondly, I found the characters one-dimensional. Perhaps their transparency is somewhat a function of the novel's short length, but I've read short stories that created characters with more depth than these. Elizabeth "Elle" MacPherson, the main character, is just plain "blah," and the other characters hardly move beyond the first impressions you get of them.And lastly, I was very disappointed in the story's resolution. I think the reader is supposed to sympathize with the guilty party, but I find it difficult to forgive someone who committed a cold-blooded murder, and certainly not one committed for the reasons given in the storyline. The whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I felt like throwing the book into the air with disgust.As a resident of the Appalachian region, I did enjoy the local lore the book provided--the references to local flora and the region's history--, but I still can't really recommend this title. A reviewer on Amazon indicated that this was the weakest book in this series, but based on what I've seen here, it would take a lot to redeem the other titles. Think I'll pass on the rest of the Elle MacPherson books, but I may read another one from the Ballad series.


A quick read and a welcome break from my "serious" reading of martyrs and serious history.


Having read one of the ballad series, "Bimbos" and the first Elizabeth MacPherson book, I looked forward to this one. It seems she had a difficult time getting this book going... I found the first two or three chapters to be tedious and stilted as she introduced the characters and tried to get the plot off the ground.But.... once over that hurdle, the fun began, and the book became as enjoyable a read as the others.I enjoy this author's sense of humour, and have the impression she must have a lot of fun with her writing.Looking forward to reading my way through all her books!

Melanie Jackson

This is the second Elizabeth MacPherson mystery and a bit darker than the first and especially the third (the light hearted Hieland Laddie Gone). The series frustrated me in later books, but I've had a decade to cool off and am trying them again. So far, so good.


This is the first of McCrumb's Elizabeth MacPherson mystery novels. Quirky and enjoyable

Susan Hammond

story told from the point of view of a child murdered and now residing in heaven.

aPriL meows 'n growls TLDR

'Lovely in Her Bones' is funny and charming. It's also shallow and lightweight, where characterization and depth are always sacrificed for the gag, bit or joke. Not that that is bad, it is what it is; a humorous cozy following an addled, clueless young woman who gets involved in deadly events, even though she has a college Sociology degree. Her number one character flaw is a terrifying obliviousness to murderous intentions. This does not make her one of the particularly odd persons that are in this novel - the characters McCrumb peoples her series with are, I suspect, intentionally cookie-cutter, recognizable from thousands of comedies - satiric, family-friendly, romantic - but Elizabeth ends up being one of the 'normal' stock players (teenage 'dumb blonde' being closest, maybe) in comparison. Whatever. She wouldn't recognize Evil if the Devil showed up oozing badness from every pore, but she has a knack for wrong-headed and unwise decisions which lead her straight into traps all the while thinking she will fix it, so heroic men hurriedly rescue her and solve the crime.Elizabeth is actually trying to catch a particular man, her brother Bill's roommate Milo, a forensic anthropology student still at college. Because she is creating opportunities to hang around him for a possible hookup, she volunteers to help out on a dig looking for the bones of Native Americans buried in a valley 'run' in the Appalachians. The 'natives' want to stop strip mining, so they are looking to provide official research clarifying their tribal status with the Federal Government. They ask Professor Alex Lerche to come and examine their ancestor's bones. Milo is his assistant, so he is rustling up fellow students to dig. Elizabeth volunteers even though she finds bones gross. The other students, who are also straight out of central casting, are only necessary for the comic skits and stage routines which run riot in this plot, consisting mostly of insult repartee. In the midst of various squabbles and verbal jousting, a murder is committed. The weapon is a plastic tomahawk, sold by the quasi-natives to tourists. Needless to say, there will be no Great Revelation about the Human Soul, or Something New. This is all for pure fun, comfortable as a pair of wool socks.This is the second book in the Elizabeth MacPherson 'mysteries' and it is much much much better than the first one, 'Sick of Shadows' (these titles are truly hilarious, so far; they are like satiric titles for a joke Romance or Mystery novel - a clue, maybe as to intent?). If you've only read the first book, I don't blame you for never touching another novel by Sharyn McCrumb. (However, that would be sad because she can write excellent stories, some quite serious and full of soul.) 'Lovely in Her Bones' starts off as awful as 'Sick of Shadows' was in its entirety, but the unfunny joking and the clumsy dialogue with incomprehensible emotional responses are shaken off by chapter four. Sexual situations are G rated, blood and gore exists for a single second in passing and the gags are familiar to family sitcom fans. To me, it strongly reminded me of TV shows from the 1960's, like Gidget, Dobie Gillis, the Patty Duke Show, or more recently, the 1995 movie 'Clueless', but without the romancing as the objective. Being entertained by sparring comedic characters who are involved in almost forgotten, peripheral murder mysteries is clearly the reason to pick this series up. A real mystery is the obligatory theme-setting quote from a famous writer, so often placed at the beginning of many novels, is not left out of this one either, but in this context, why? McCrumb hasn't quite polished up her intended style yet that I can guess for Elizabeth's future in the series, so far it's shaping into a gentle satire.

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