Sue Hearn is planting a herb garden on the site of her grandfather’s old greenhouse. She’s spent the morning digging up all sorts of odds and ends already. But she doesn’t expect this grisly find.
Could it be the remains of her mother, Monica, who went missing thirty years ago?
Sue’s father, in hospital with dementia, insinuates that a police officer was involved in her mother’s disappearance. But can he be trusted?
So now Detectives Asha Harvey and Aaron Birch might be looking for a bent copper.
As they dig deeper into the past, Sue and Asha find secrets so dangerous it will put all their lives in danger.
I was approved for an ARC of Small Bones by Kerry Buchanan via NetGalley, my thanks to Joffe Books for the approval and I hope that you find my honest review to your satisfaction.
Small Bones is the second in Kerry Buchanan’s crime series featuring Detectives Asha Harvey and Aaron Birch, the first being Knife Edge. I’d say that reading the previous book isn’t a requirement to understanding the events in Small Bones as the second installment in the series reads perfectly well as a stand-alone.
I had some reservations about picking up Small Bones as I had a couple of gripes about Knife Edge (which you can read about here) but I am thrilled that I gave the book a chance as it was a fast-paced nail-biter of a book!
Already familiar with Acting DI Asha Harvey and Aaron Birch, I found them to be enjoyable, quirky characters that I found myself rooting for and it was great to see them both taking center stage in their investigation. At times the plights they face push the limits of my suspension of disbelief and yet I still found myself turning pages with increasing rapidity to find out their eventual fates. These two lead characters are incredibly strong and have their own personalities which are growing between each story featuring them. I look forward to seeing how they develop further and if there’s anything to the slow burn relationship that could be blossoming between them, and, how that all could come crashing down!
The plot of Small Bones is easy to follow thanks to Kerry Buchanan’s fast writing pace and effortless descriptions. Sue Hearn discovers the skull of a child while digging over her Grandfathers garden. With a mother that has been missing since her teenage years, could these remains hold the clues to what happened to her? I personally found the intrigue of the cold case to be the most captivating element of the overall plot; which also houses corruption and extortion. As the case progresses and the truth comes out there is an emotional sensitivity to what happened that gives the reader a real feeling of sympathy for those involved, especially the younger William. At one point, I was moved to shedding a tear for the fate of the little boy, for an author to bring about such emotion in a reader – anger and tragedy – showcases their talents.
While I enjoyed the plot – there was enough intrigue to keep the pages turning – I didn’t find it left me guessing. It was a pretty cut and dry story, which had a few elements of mystery, the main hook was revealed easy to guess at. However, the mystery is sensitively handled considering how sad it is and is carefully revealed as the plot progresses – lending itself to the pacing of the book as a whole. No part felt rushed or out of place.
At around the 65% mark of the book the focus shifts from discovering the case to catching those that are responsible for what happened. This is where the pace really ramps up and the action comes to the fore; while well written in itself, I do feel like some of the writing magic had worn out by this point. All the clues of the cold-case had been solved and it was the climax of the ‘wrap-up.’ Thankfully, the case gets solved and nicely wrapped up as the book concludes, but there’s the thread left that not everything is as good as it seems to Asha Harvey and Aaron Birch and the hopeful hint that there is more to come in the series. Fingers crossed!
A lot happens to the main characters in the book; they’re kidnapped, injured, assaulted verbally, given death threats, and have attempts made on their lives. All of these, add an element of desperation to the frantic pace of the book. Each of these events is plausible considering the overall feel of the rest of the book and the type of investigation they’re undertaking, yet, to have so much happened to them all feels somewhat incredulous. Still, it’s exciting and offsets the slower moments of research of the cold-case, so I can understand why they’re all included. They help to balance the narrative.
What I admire about this book is its diversity of characters and cast. So many times I’ve had conversations about the lead characters of novels and a trend of ‘forced diversity’ in other settings; here the variety in the cast of the books feels organic and completely natural and for that, I wholeheartedly applaud Kerry Buchanan. And, for better and worse, some of the characters within reminds me of people that I know and have spoken to. There are instances of sexism, misogyny, and racism that are enraging and uncomfortable to read about in relation to the lead character, Asha Harvey, which is entirely credible considering her position within the police force.
A fast-paced mystery with wonderfully considered lead characters. An exciting, well-rounded plot that I could easily see being translated to other media (TV series) due to it’s ease of reading and its level of intrigue being highly captivating. Emotionally jarring in places, but a joy to read and I eagerly await the return of DI Asha Harvey and Aaron Birch
I am thrilled about the ‘dialogue’ section at the end of the book! Made me smile to see the quirks of the English/Irish language having to be explained!