book reviews

Book Review: The Bone Readers

The Bone ReadersThe Bone Readers

by Jacob Ross

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Jacob Ross’ The Bone Readers (Inpress Books 2016) is the story of Michael (Digger) Digson, a down-on-his-luck Caribbean islander who can’t find a job and barely survives in the home left to him by his grandmother. He has three things going for him: a moral compass, a smart mind, and a burning need to find out why his mother left him when he was eight. When he witnesses a murder, he is able to recall important details for the investigating offer that lead to the capture of the killers. As a result, he is offered a job in a new plain clothes detective squad just being organized. He accepts as much because he needs money to fix his roof as because he hopes that being inside the law will allow him access to records of his mother’s disappearance. He’s not alone in his ulterior motives: Everyone in the department seems to have their own reasons for being on the badge side of the law. When another new hire joins the group with the express purpose of solving a twenty-year-old crime, Digger finds himself wrapped into the mystery along with her.

Ross does not disappoint as a storyteller. Through his verbal eyes, I experience the Caribbean island culture that is the setting to the story as though I am a native, including the distinctive patois of the inhabitants. In fact, both dialogue and narrative are in this dialectic style of speaking:

‘You mother is your jumbie. Nothing to do with San Andrews CID, y’unnerstand? I dunno nothing about what you looking for. You get that?”

“Malan shook his head. ‘Is procedure –you taking up the case, so you have to read the file.’ ‘It didn help y’all find de boy; not so?’ she said.”

Digger himself is an unusual character, with strong native intelligence, an uncanny ability to pick out details, and an innate talent to read bones as though they were a replay of events. I expected this to be the underpinning of the plot, but it is sprinkled in sparingly, though Digger investigates a wide variety of crimes.

Overall, this is a unique read, paced to the islands where it takes place with a group of interesting characters I will enjoy following into future books.

–received from NetGalley in return for an honest review

More atmospheric novels:

Bitter Creek

Dead Reckoning

Out of the Blues


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

22 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bone Readers

  1. Jacqui, this sounds different but in a good way. The title alone has me hooked, atmospheric setting and good idea to give us a taste of the patois which I’d be concerned would slow my reading but this flowed and was easy to understand. Gosh, I hope Digger finds out what happened to his mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This book sounds like the kind of story I enjoy – an inside look at a unique culture and a personal mystery linked to the main character, thus driving him to pursue a conclusion. Capturing the essence of local dialect is essential to creating the flavor of the Caribbean. Well done review, Jacqui. Was there a reason you only gave four stars?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mostly little stuff, but the reason that stands out is probably more a personal preference. I liked the idea of a guy who could read truth in bones–like Bones on TV. The main character in Bone Reader can do that, but doesn’t do it often enough. That’s all.

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