Thursday, 3 January 2019

Book Review: THE BONE KEEPER by Luca Veste

Author: Luca Veste
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Read: December 2018
Expected publication: 1 February 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

Warning - there may be slight spoilers ahead - read at your own risk!

Book Description:

He'll slice your flesh.
Your bones he'll keep.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper. Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince skeptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood. But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone. The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.

The brilliant new police procedural from Luca Veste, featuring series characters Murphy and Rossi - a guaranteed page-turner.

My musings:

I love the theme of including urban myths in contemporary mysteries, so as soon as I read the premise of The Bone Keeper, I knew I had to read it! The Bone Keeper refers to a sinister presence in a local woodland near Liverpool, who is rumoured to steal children, kill them and keep their bones: “He’ll slice your flesh. Your bones he’ll keep.” Creepy or what???? I remember similar legends in our area that had us utterly terrified but were a good deterrent to keep us out of certain places in the neighbourhood. Like the old lady next door, who repeatedly had to tell us off for climbing her fence, until the rumour spread that she was a witch who would poke out children’s eyes – and no one ever climbed that fence again. *clap, clap, good thinking 99* But I digress ....

Urban myth meets real life when a horrifically injured woman is found wandering near the woods, claiming to have been attacked by a horrible “presence”, only just escaping with her life. DC Louise Henderson, who seems to have a personal connection to the belief that something evil is prowling these woods, relating to a secret in her past we are not privy to, takes the woman’s claims seriously, even if the other officers scoff at the whole story of the “bone keeper”. Until other disappearances and deaths are suddenly being linked to the same area ....

I must say that the story started off very strong for me, and the image of the children daring each other to enter the dark dank tunnel in the woods to prove how brave they are set a terrifying scene. Perhaps because even as an adult it still touches on our most primeval fears of something evil coming to get us. It gave me the chills!

However, I admit that after the strong start, the book did not fully deliver for me. Firstly, I thought Louise to be a difficult, obstructive character I found hard to relate to, and her constant lies and omissions somewhat went against her role as investigative officer. The story also lost a lot of steam for me when multiple POVs were introduced, including that of the killer, which oddly served to take away some of the chill factor. Perhaps because it de-mystified the paranormal aspect that had made it so scary for me? I have read a lot of spooky mysteries lately, and the ones keeping the myth alive and somewhat “vague” in explaining the events were the ones that worked best for me, messing with my mind just the way I like.

About 2/3 into the book it all went a bit overboard for me and there was so much suspension of disbelief that I nearly abandoned the book, because everyone knows that I am very, very bad at doing that. But that’s just my personal preferences, and I am sure that the book will work well for other readers, who will enjoy the mounting body count, the unreliable narrators and the evil thoughts of the killer loose in the woods. Personally, I would have liked a more pronounced and relatable main character to lead the story, and fewer other POVs. I also think that the mystery had all the spooky elements that made The Chalk Man so creepy for me, but that they somehow got lost in translation with too many other side stories happening that took away a lot of suspense. It was almost as if the author tried to add more and more elements that ended up working against one another – a simpler plot with more mystery would have worked better for me. Again, my own personal view only, and I’m sure others will disagree.


With a strong start and an ultimately disappointing latter half, I’m finding this book difficult to rate. Personally, I struggled in parts to keep my interest but was invested enough in the story to be curious to find out the answers. It’s one of those stories you will have to read and judge for yourself – if you like a mystery that includes an urban myth and don’t mind several plotlines and a mounting body count, then you should definitely read it – you may find it works a lot better for you! For overall enjoyment, probably only 2.5 stars for me, but I will round it up to 3 for the creepy beginning which set a terrifying scene and got me hooked immediately.

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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