Ted Hertel Jr has just reviewed BONES IN THE RIVER for Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine. Here are his thoughts:
The annual Appleby Horse Fair generally draws more than 40,000 tourists including many Travellers and Gypsies from around the area. This causes no end of problems for the police and those who live in the small Lakeland town in which they gather. Tensions always run high between the visitors and the locals, but this time they are exacerbated when a young boy on a bicycle is run over and his body disappears just as the Romany begin arriving. It isn’t long before a body does wash up in the river—only this corpse is the remains of a missing adult male from the area. DC Nick Weston and crime scene investigator Grace McColl must work with their respective teams, and each other, in order to delve into long-held secrets and a prevent violent clash at the Fair.
This is the second novel in Zoë Sharp’s entertaining Lake District trilogy, the first of which was DANCING ON THE GRAVE. You need not have read the earlier novel in order to follow this one. McColl and Weston are interesting protagonists, each of whom carries baggage from prior relationships and their police work. They work with different teams but still manage to find their investigations overlapping. Other characters are equally well drawn, from the villains to the visitors to the Fair. The locals believe that those visitors are responsible for both crimes, including that of the young boy whose body also eventually turns up in the river.
The author beautifully describes the English Lake District, as well as the lifestyles of the Romany, complete with their language and culture. The Fair, which is based on the actual event, is so well-described that it makes one want to visit it. The mystery at the heart of this novel is one that will touch your heart; the secrets behind that mystery will then shatter it.
Sharp is best known for the action and suspense in her outstanding Charlie Fox series. While the reader knows the identity of the young boy’s killer right from the start, this bit of information only heightens the suspense as the killer does everything possible to evade capture. This is an entirely different type of tale from the Fox series, a complex one that will twist your mind right to the novel’s final pages. I look forward to the third volume in this set.
My thanks to Ted Hertel Jr, as always, for the kind words.