The Bone House by Brian Freeman

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The Bone House by Brian Freeman

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A taut and gripping story with a strong psychological element. Based in a rural but beautiful backwater in the US, Freeman's credible characters and credible storyline work and they come together in a story full of dreadful secrets.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978-0755348787

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The novel opens with one of the central characters, Mark. And straight away we see that he has an eye for the girls - young girls, it would seem. He's a married man, so tongues start to wag. The book's front cover depicts a house going up in flames and on the very first page there's another mention of fire, Billy Joel's hit song We Didn't Start The Fire. So, fire seems as if it's going to play an important part in this book. And it does. Big-time.

The reader then meets Hilary, Mark's wife. It's a year on and there's quite a bit of water under the bridge, so to speak. Somehow, Hilary's husband has survived a serious incident which involved a young girl (bit of a theme here). She's one of his students (he's a teacher. Correction, was a teacher). He's innocent but as most of us know - mud sticks ... And the fact that Mark just happens to be a handsome, young-ish, rugged, athletic man; the type of teacher his teenage students swoon over. Difficult. But he appears to be handling the fall-out reasonably well. And Hilary? I took to her straight away. A loyal wife who is also beautiful and smart at the same time. I couldn't help thinking that she really must be madly in love with Mark to put herself through all of that mud-slinging. They live in a quiet location where everyone knows everyone else. Tongues wag ... and then some. The community is having a field day with Mark and Hilary Bradley.

The reader is introduced to other characters as the story develops and I soon got the feeling that all is not well. Freeman is building up both the tension within the community - and doubt in the reader's mind, well, certainly in my mind. Is Mark guilty or innocent? And as another young, pretty teenager is found dead, the story really picks up. Not only did Mark know the girl - there's a witness who can put him in a very dangerous place. But is the witness reliable? Darkness can play tricks on the eyes.

Freeman gives us different characters with different agendas in this story. He also makes the most of the small-town tittle-tattle effect. At times it all feels rather claustrophobic. Good for a psychological twist. Freeman also chooses to end a lot of his chapters on a cliff-hanger so I was keen to keep reading to find out what happened next. A page-turner. Most of the characters managed to get under my skin, particularly the Bradley couple.

And the family giving the couple all this angst is interesting also. A single mother with plenty of baggage. She has her own style of parenting, of looking after her family. But at times she struggles. Enter a monosyllabic boyfriend and everything becomes even more interesting to the reader. There's quite a clutch of characters in this novel and the plot has a few sub-plots. It's excellent. Freeman's easy to read style of writing will, I'm sure, gain him plenty of new fans. I haven't read any of his previous novels but I certainly enjoyed this one. It really is the type of book which is hard to put down. I read it over a weekend and gobbled it up quite happily. This is one for those readers who like a good dollop of psychological suspense in their stories. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of Freeman's Spilled Blood.

If this type of book appeals then you might enjoy No Escape by N J Cooper.

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Buy The Bone House by Brian Freeman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Bone House by Brian Freeman at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Bone House by Brian Freeman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Bone House by Brian Freeman at Amazon.com.

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