Sunday, January 14, 2018

Walking the Bones

Walking the Bones by Randall Silvis
Sourcebooks Landmark: 1/23/18
eBook review copy; 464 pages
ISBN-13: 9781492646914
Ryan DeMarco series #2

Walking the Bones by Randall Silvis is a highly recommended mystery, procedural, and character study.

Is the past ever really in the past? Sgt. Ryan DeMarco plans to retire from the Pennsylvania State Police after the recent events (from in the first book in the series, Two Day's Gone) that have tilted his world. Several months previously, his best friend died, as did his baby son, and his marriage ended.  DeMarco is also still trying to overcome trauma from years ago in his own childhood and upbringing.

His girlfriend, Trooper Jayme Matson, with the secret assistance of his supervisor, Cmdr. Kyle Bowen, talks DeMarco into taking temporary leave instead. Jayme takes some of her accumulated leave, and the two head out in an RV, planning on rest, relaxation, and hopefully healing. Instead, Jayme's grandmother dies, so the two head to the small town of Aberdeen, Kentucky, for the funeral. What they also find is an unsolved murder and three elderly people who want him to look into the case, a case that the local police have given up on trying to solve.

The carefully cleaned and preserved bones of seven young women were found four years ago behind a secret wall in the First Baptist Church. The victims were all African-American teenagers who had gone missing between 1998 and 2004. There were four leading suspects, but no charges were ever brought against anyone. DeMarco knows from experience that clues are always left behind; you just need to find them and a new way to look at the case. He and Jayme decide to look at the case.

First, I didn't read Two Day's Gone before Walking the Bones, but I was still able to follow the plot without a problem and highly enjoyed this fine procedural/character study. Plenty of the background information from the first novel is here, certainly enough to follow the case and DeMarco's internal struggles.

Additionally, while the case is solved, this is more of a character study rather than an investigation. Sure, they investigate, but along the way DeMarco's character is revealed with scenes from his recent trauma, to his very difficult childhood. He is a man who is close to the breaking point, dealing with memories and regrets from the past and present. De Marco also had a boatload of things he never really addressed from his childhood, especially the abuse, which is surfacing after the other traumatic events.

The writing is really quite good and descriptive, as the chapters move between timelines. The plot, while drawn out, held my attention, although I did admittedly start skimming through all the sex scenes between DeMarco and Jayme, which became a bit too much when there were some real problems that needed to be solved and some investigating that needed to be done. All of the characters are well-developed and portrayed as unique individuals. This made the investigation interesting and engaging. I was surprised at the ending.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark.

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