The Bone Readers is the first book in Jacob Ross’ crime thriller trilogy, Ross’ first novel Pynter Binder was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Regional Prize (2009) and chosen as one of the British Authors Club’s top three Best First Novels.
I have recently been reading a lot of short stories and was glad for the chance to read this really engrossing read. The Bone Readers is set in the Caribbean and follows the protagonist Michael Digson AKA Digger as he reluctantly starts his fledgling career at St Andrews CID. Digger’s work takes him to the underbelly of the island and reveals the dark secrets even the most saintly people can hold.
I was fascinated by Ross’ ability to create characters with depth and diversity. I was rooting for our protagonist and his rise from a school dropout to forensic expert. The entry of Miss Stanisklaus, a strong no-nonsense woman who can outperform the overly male dominated CID kick starts the action. Despite starting of a bit slow I was soon gripped by the central narrative and the chase to uncover a particularly tough missing person’s case on the island. While searching for Nathan, who has been missing for 3 years, Digger and Stanisklaus highlight how justice often has to overcome the obstacles of power and politics. Miss Stanisklaus’s talent for seeing in-between the lines allows her to make the biggest break in the case and sets in motion a chain of action that puts all their lives in danger.
While the book deals indirectly with some pretty heavy issues such (murder, sexual and emotional abuse) it does so in a respectful way. I like the way that the survivors are constructed as strong characters whose value in the narrative goes beyond labelling them as victims. Instead we are invited to think about the issues of repressed masculinity and religious fervour for ourselves.
All in all, this was a great read I can’t wait to see what the sequel has in store. Thank-you Peepal Tree Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.