Ten years ago, DCI Jack Logan stopped the serial child-killer dubbed ‘Mister Whisper,’ earning himself a commendation, a drinking problem, and a broken marriage in the process.
Now, he spends his days working in Glasgow’s Major Investigations Team, and his nights reliving the horrors of what he saw.
And what he did.
When another child disappears a hundred miles north in the Highlands, Jack is sent to lead the investigation and bring the boy home.
But as similarities between the two cases grow, could it be that Jack caught the wrong man all those years ago?
And, if so, is the real Mister Whisper about to claim his fourth victim?
I picked this book up when it came into the Bleakholt Charity shop I volunteer at – getting to pick up books is a perk of the job and the shop gets them back when I am done! I’ve been trying to resist picking up books because I have far too many to read, but this one lept out as it reminded me of A Flicker in the Darks synopsis and I wanted to compare the two!
A Litter of Bones is the first in a police procedural series by JD Kirk. The series started in 2019 and is already thirteen books long. In the distant past, DCI Jack Logan helped to capture and convict a serial child-killer known as Mister Whisper, however, the whereabouts of some of his victim’s remains is a secret that the killer is keeping close to his chest; much to the chagrin of the wayward DCI. Then, after ten years, another child goes missing following an eerily similar pattern to the cases of Mister Whisper, sowing the seeds of doubt surrounding the original conviction.
A Litter of Bones is a character-driven novel, with some really intriguing characters at its heart. Lead character DCI Jack Logan is a man tormented by the last remaining mystery of his old case; haunted by the unknown whereabouts of the missing children that Mister Whisper left behind; as such he’ll stop at nothing to find the truth behind the missing remains – including dipping into unethical territory in his actions. He’s a character that’s trying to do right by those he deems to have failed, even if that means doing wrong along the way – it makes him a seemingly uncaring character with a big heart; I found him entirely captivating and unpredictable. Logan came across as a breath of fresh air compared to many of the ‘goody-goody-two-shoes’ lead character detectives and one that I am already eager to read about; seeing if his wayward determination is tempered or emphasized in future novels.
Alongside DCI Logan are the usual suspects of crime novels; the young and eager to prove himself, if somewhat misogynistic DC Neish. Constable Sinead, who is brought into the team at DCI Logan’s request, and DC Khaled who offers refreshing insight to the case as it develops. As well as DI Forde, DCI Logan’s long-suffering friend. Each of the characters is written with such a unique personality they stand apart from one another, they are brimming with personality without feeling over the top; like long-established characters with healthy banter between them without dipping into the dangers of stereotype. They each have something to bring to the table and enhance the novel.
Aside of the core police team, the supporting characters felt realistic, and in some cases, terrifying. The Ried family, whose son goes missing, you feel a keen sympathy for. Even if you don’t understand some of their actions. Those under police scrutiny come across appropriately and the other supporting characters are well-written in their mannerisms and quirks.
In terms of plot, the story keeps the reader guessing right until the very last chapters. Along the way, we encounter the usual handful of obvious red herrings but we even begin to question if these deflections are that or something more. As a crime/mystery novel, the story works well and hard to keep the reader guessing. Lingering in the back of the mind are the questions; What does all this have to do with the establishing chapters? How do all the threads fit together? Did DCI Logan catch the right guy the first time? It’s a thrill ride of exploration that leaves the reader guessing at each and every turn. As the book draws to its conclusion events get more intense and, I hate to dwell on age-old-cliches, but I couldn’t put it down! There was an eagerness to uncover the truth, find out who was at the heart of all the Ried families suffering, and ultimately, why?
As this is a book detailing the cases of a serial killer and his actions, there are some scenes within that involve abuse – towards victim and animals – these are a little unsettling to read, but they are easily glossed over in light of the rest of the story. It’s a common understanding that crime novels will involve scenes of abuse and torture; I found them to be well handled in this novel and while they are graphic, they aren’t over-the-top in their description. They serve a purpose to the plot of the story and serve to prop the novel, rather than act as a detriment to the author’s talents.
What I truly appreciated about A Little of Bones was the dry sense of humour that’s carried throughout the novel. Embedded early on in the words of DCI Logan, but also in some of the scenes that happen within the book; such as a sheep invading a crime scene!
While I have a lot of praise for this debut novel, I do feel like there was a bit of personal-touch missing from the main character. I understand he is a tortured sort of soul, working away from his home town, but I didn’t get much of a feel for him personally; I enjoyed his sense of humour and the way he got things done, but I left the book knowing very little about him as a person. In future novels, I’d very much like to see some development in DCI Logan; and his fellows, that doesn’t centre completely around his work life.
On the whole, A Litter of Bones is a fantastic read. A police procedural that has a key focus on the case at hand. One that leaves the reader guessing the mystery and asking all the right/wrong questions at the right/wrong times. Injected with a dry sense of humour that I am partial to. I’ll happily pick up other novels in this series with the hope of filling in the blanks in characters’ personal lives.