Author: Vivian Barz
Published: August 2019 by Thomas & Mercer
Category: Crime, Mystery, Murder, Paranormal, Book Review
An unlikely pair teams up to investigate a brutal murder in a haunting thriller that walks the line between reality and impossibility.
When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started.
Skipping over the prologue, which I thought was too long and actually unnecessary since the characters don’t feature again, Police Officer Susan Marlan responds to a road traffic accident where the decades old remains of a child’s body is discovered buried next to a telephone pole that had been knocked down.
A local pedophile recently released from prison is deemed responsible for the child’s death although, after talking to the medical examiner and interviewing his mother, Susan isn’t completely convinced.
College professor Eric Evans has recently relocated due to his marriage break up. After a garage sale buy strange things begin to happen. Eric suffers from schizophrenia which is normally kept under control by medication, which he takes religiously. The things he’s seeing and hearing make him wonder if his condition is causing hallucinations or is he actually seeing ghosts.
Eric blinked. He blinked a few more times, hoping to flutter the hallucination right from the room. The little boy remained, swiping a hand under his wet nose as he started to sniffle. Eric grimaced. The kid’s fingers were bleeding, knuckles exposed down to the bone.
The story alternated between Susan and Eric, with quite a lot of description and introspection about their lives from the two of them which slows the story. Susan seems to care about her job and is determined to get to the bottom of the case despite being warned off by the FBI who have taken over the investigation. Yet inexplicably she doesn’t hurry to report what she learned before taking four days leave. She and Eric eventually team up to solve the mystery when he reports what he describes as dreams, not wanting Susan to think he was ‘one of the crazies’ that tend to make false claims.
There’s not enough actual crime solving or police procedural work to generate tension or suspense and the clues are fairly obvious, particularly the reveal at the end, nothing misleading or distracting and most of the threads were fairly predictable. I’m not a fan of the villain confessing all at the end to tie everything up before he’s about to kill the one who found him out.
I enjoyed Eric’s character the most, and his developing friendship with Jake. The mental health aspect is portrayed with positivity, showing how Eric copes well with his condition and lives a productive life. The premise of the story was promising, there was just too much unrelated drama and self absorption for me.
I chose to read and review an advance reader copy of Forgotten Bones courtesy of Katie Olsen and NetGalley
About the Author
Vivian Barz grew up on a farm in a small Northern California town of less than three thousand people. With plenty of fresh air and space to let her imagination run wild, she began penning mysteries at a young age. One of Barz’s earliest works, a story about a magical scarecrow with a taste for children’s blood, was read to her third-grade class during show-and-tell. It received mixed reviews. Vivian kept writing, later studying English and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine. She now resides in Los Angeles, where she is always working on her next screenplay and novel.
Barz also writes under the pen name Sloan Archer.