Sunday, January 1, 2017

Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn

First Sentence:  In my dreams, the dead can speak.
      
Deputy Gemma Monroe is still haunted by two young boys who went missing, and whose skeletons she found, years later.  Now, she is called to a traveling circus, and the murder scene of a young man who was thought to have died three years previously.  What happened back then, and why has he turned up now, having completely altered his looks?  The more Gemma digs, the more she finds links from the present to the past and another death of which they were completely unaware was linked.
      
What an excellent opening.  It is both poignant and memorable.  It also ensures you want to read on.  And isn’t that the purpose of a well-executed hook?
      
Littlejohn creates a strong sense of place that impacts all the senses but then makes us smile before taking us into the very serious reality of a crime scene.  Littlejohn's voice is very evocative, which is both good and disconcerting.  It is certainly effective.  You really do find you don’t want to stop reading.  I know I’m being repetitive; it’s hard to avoid it.
      
From the protagonist of Gemma, down to the secondary characters, each character is well-drawn, realistic and fully developed.  One can’t help but love Tilly, the town’s librarian.  She is the perfect light touch to the story. 
      
Gemma is a particularly appealing protagonist.  She is 6-months pregnant, strong, smart, very capable, admired by her co-workers—well, all but one—and persistent.  Yet her life isn’t idealized, or perfect.  There are definitely issues with which she is dealing.  She is complicated on her own, and we like her all the better for it.
      
Littlejohn wonderful paints verbal pictures—“His voice was low and sounded like he’d spent some serious time down in the bayou; I heard in the ebb and flow of his words, days spend on shrimping boats, in swampy wetlands, watching shell-pink and blood-orange sunsets over the Gulf.”
      
The danger and suspense are carefully introduced and slowly escalated, and the path nicely strewn with red herrings.  It’s nice to read a police procedural that is solved by following the clues.  It’s nice to read a resolution to a case that isn’t a cheat, but on that is realistic in today’s system of ‘justice.”
      
Inherit the Bones” is a very good book, even more so when you consider it is Littlejohn’s first book.  She is an author one certainly may want to follow. 

INHERIT THE BONES (Pol Proc-Deputy Gemma – Colorado-Contemp) – VG+
      Littlejohn, Emily – 1st book
      Minotaur Books, Nov 2016 

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