The Bone Road by N E Solomons

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The Bone Road by N E Solomons

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: We know the author as Natasha Solomons and this is her debut as a writer of thrillers. It's set in the Balkans with evocative references to the Balkan conflicts of last century. You'll particularly love this book if you're a fan of cycle racing.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: August 2022
Publisher: Polygon
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846976148

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Heather Bishop, the former Olympic cyclist, flew to Bosnia to surprise her boyfriend, cycling journalist Ryan Mackinnon. She even took their bikes so they could have a few days' break in the region. It was a little worrying that he didn't seem exactly pleased to see her: she even wondered if he had a woman in the hotel room. Heather had to give up competitive cycling after a traumatic brain injury four years before: she was still fit but her reactions and her memory were not up to the standard she would need to race again. Sometimes she couldn't be certain about what she had or hadn't done and she simply couldn't cope in difficult situations. She didn't entirely trust herself.

Heather and Ryan watched the women's cycle race and were disturbed by a police raid on the teams: many of the cyclists were arrested and the crowd became restive. It was a relief, particularly to Heather, to be on their bikes and cycling in the mountains. From a high peak, they decided to race down to the bottom, with Ryan getting a five-minute lead but Ryan disappeared completely. Reporting his disappearance to the police was difficult: this area had a history which meant that one man apparently taking a break from his girlfriend wasn't taken all that seriously. Besides, Inspektor Simo Suboti? had other things on his mind. Six weeks before, a body had been pulled from the River Drina. Now there was another one, two miles upstream. They were headless and had no hands or feet. Before they died they'd been tortured.

Simo had seen wounds like this before, but that was twenty-six years ago. He'd hoped never to see them again. He didn't need the distraction of Mackinnon's disappearance but he was the only one with sufficient command of the English language. When Ryan's blood-stained bike is found, Simo's boss, Josif Borisov, is keen to charge Heather. It would be a high-profile case and Borisov is running for office. It should be easy too: even Heather can't be certain about what she's done and there are reports of the pair arguing, of her attacking other people. Then Simo began to wonder exactly who Ryan Mackinnon was: much of what Ryan had told Heather simply didn't add up.

Here at Bookbag Towers, we know the N E Solomons as Natasha Solomons and The Bone Road is her debut as a writer of thrillers. As a writer of literary fiction, she was a safe pair of hands: you knew that you would get a book that was beautifully written and wonders would have been worked with the plot and the characters. They stayed with you long after you finished reading the book. It might be literary fiction - but it was always an excellent read. Well, the skills have been transferred to her first thriller.

I was halfway through the book when I'd only intended two read a couple of chapters 'to get a feel for what it was like'. I don't have a particular interest in cycle racing and I worried that much of the plot would go over my head. It didn't and I know a lot more about the sport than I did a few days ago. I know more too about the conflict between Bosnia and Serbia, how decades later the ill feeling and enmity is still as strong. Solomons paints the scenes as sensitively as possible but there were times when I could have wept.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag. We're looking forward to seeing what Natasha writes next.

My favourite Natasha Solomons book is The Gallery of Vanished Husbands.

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