Laying Out the Bones by Kate Webb

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Laying Out the Bones by Kate Webb

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The second book in the DI Matt Lockyer series more than lives up to expectations with clever plotting and characters who stay with you. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: January 2024
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529421286

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It was one of those flash downpours that the British weather often delivers in a heatwave. In a gully, a human skeleton came to the surface and forensic testing proved the body to be Lee Geary, who had disappeared nine years earlier. He'd been a known drug user and had learning disabilities, so it could have been a simple case of misadventure but DI Matt Lockyer wasn't convinced. Geary was a townie, so what was he doing out on Salisbury Plain alone? There are connections to the suicide of Holly Gilbert and to two other deaths which were not considered suspicious at the time. Lockyer and DC Gemma Broad of the Major Crimes Review Unit (that's cold cases to you and me) investigate.

Lockyer has a couple of other problems. His mother caught Covid whilst in hospital and her recovery is relentlessly slow. His father isn't coping and doesn't seem to have accepted that there's something seriously wrong with Trudy. Lockyer's not in a position to help on the farm. Then his neighbour explains the stain on Lockyer's bedroom ceiling - and it leads to a body buried in the woodland just behind the houses. If he reports the body, Mrs Musprat could be arrested. Lockyer doesn't feel that she is to blame for what happened. If he doesn't report finding the body, it could cost him his job. He's on shaky grounds over such matters.

The plotting is brilliant. I probably should have spotted who was behind what had happened all those years ago: the clues are all there, but I didn't until close to the end of the story. There are stories within stories but the personal aspects don't overwhelm the basic arc of the investigation - as often happens when there's a continuing narrative in a series. The personal and the professional are interwoven in a completely believable way.

The excellent characterisation makes this believable. Lockyer is a good detective but insecure. Decades on, he's still feeling guilty about the death of his younger brother, Chris. Chris, somehow, had been the life of the farm. He cheered things up and was going to be the man who took over when his father could no longer farm. Matt Lockyer can do neither of those things. My favourite character is DC Gemma Broad. She's straight, honest - and loyal to Lockyer but her boyfriend, Pete, isn't a good choice. I kept hoping that she would realise. It's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

The Wiltshire countryside comes off the page so well that I couldn't believe that I wasn't there. Ann Cleeves does much the same for Northumberland and Val McDermid forScotland.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

You could read Laying Out the Bones as a standalone but you'll get more out of it if you've already read the first book in the series.

Kate Webb's DI Matt Lockyer Novels in Chronological Order

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