Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell

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Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Two teenagers went into the woods twenty years ago and only one returned. When bones start arriving at his home you have knife-edge suspense. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978-0755352982

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Twenty years ago two teenage boys went into the woods outside the northern Californian town of Coventry but only one of them came home. The other was sent away by his father, Judge Hobbs and he's only just returned home because he believes that his father might be dying. During the first night there's a thump as a human jawbone – complete with teeth – lands on the front porch. Josh Hobbs is coming home – bone by bone.

Oren Hobbs has just left the army where he was an investigator for the Criminal Investigations Division, so human bones are nothing new to him. In his brother's bedroom – eerily kept just as it was the day he left – he finds a coffin containing all the bones that have been left at the house so far. They're laid out as a skeleton and Oren quickly realises that the bones don't match. Wherever Josh is buried, he's not alone and the fact that he's buried says that this is murder.

I picked this book up yesterday morning, just to have a quick look to see if it was my sort of thing. American thrillers have got to be very good to appeal to me. I finished it in the early hours of this morning, by dint of taking only the most necessary of breaks – I simply couldn't put the book down for more than a few minutes. Carol O'Connell is one of the most compelling storytellers I've encountered in a long time and not surprisingly it's going to be one of those books which I'll return to. I might know 'whodunit', but next time around there's going to be a great deal of pleasure in seeing how the plot was put together.

The writing is superb. I don't think there's a wasted word in the book and there's certainly no literary artifice or clever trickery – just craftsmanship.

Small town America comes to life in her hands. It's the place where everyone knows everyone else and most of their secrets are common knowledge. There's still enough that intrigues to be picked up by a boy who was already a talented photographer despite his youth. Josh Hobbs was sought after in Coventry – even twenty years after his disappearance his work is still on display in local businesses and he was the official photographer at local events. He was skilful at capturing the image and in the darkroom. Josh's photos wind their way through the story, bringing people and situations to life.

So, the plot's great, the location comes off the page and wraps itself around you, but what about the characters? It's a town full of eccentrics – or rather the eccentrics have risen to the surface and they're the ones we spot – but none of them seems outlandish, from the housekeeper who seems to have no past, through the ex-cop mutilated on the job, to the local writer with the questionable wig which ought to be given a name and bought a flea collar. Even the relatively minor characters (and who knows who is 'minor' in a story like this?) stay in the mind. There's character development as people turn out to be something more – or less – than you first thought.

One of the small delights of the book was learning about Hanlon's Razor - never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. That's worth keeping in mind!

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

It's the other side of the USA but if this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy New England White by Stephen L Carter.

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Buy Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell at


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