“What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?
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 sceptical 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.”
Look at that cover! That stunning cover plus that incredible sounding blurb made The Bone Keeper a must read for me. This is the third book by author Luca Veste that I have read, previously having devoured book one (Dead Gone) and book two (The Dying Place) in his Murphy and Rossi series (unfortunately both were before the blog so I have no reviews to share. I really MUST find some time to read books three, four and five!).
The Bone Keeper, however, is a cracking standalone and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has its creepy moments and I am a huge fan of the crime/horror crossover which I think this book wants to be. But for me, it fell firmly into the crime thriller category. It certainly packs more of a punch than your average police procedural and I know other reviewers have said how nervous it made them feel, how creepy they found the story but I, unfortunately, didn’t experience it in the same way. I’ve obviously become immune after reading so much horror and crime over the years. Dangit!
DC Louise Henderson is an intriguing character who I instantly liked. There’s something there that others may not necessarily warm to but I really liked her. I also liked her DS, Paul Shipley and the bubbling undercurrent of chemistry between the pair of them. As investigative teams go, Henderson and Shipley could be new favourites.
The story starts with a chilling scene in the woods. The entire premise of this book is set on a myth, renowned in the Merseyside area. If you live in Merseyside, you know all about the Bone Keeper from a young age. And that’s all it is, right? A myth? Maybe. Maybe not. Four kids dare each other to play in local woodlands. Only three return. Years later, a bloodied woman is found wandering the streets. She’s been brutally attacked and is muttering the bone keeper song to herself. DC Louise Henderson is on the case. Henderson and her DS, Paul Shipley are sent to interview the victim once she regains consciousness. Shortly afterwards more bodies are discovered in the woods; strange carvings are discovered on the trees nearby that make Henderson and Shipley doubt this is the work of anyone other than the Bone Keeper. But Louise knows there’s more to this investigation. She fears the woods and wants to stay as far away as possible. What secrets are they hiding? What’s keeping her away?
I found Henderson to be quite mysterious. There are things the reader doesn’t know about her. Hints are laid, here and there but I, for one, never really felt I had the measure of the character until the end of the book. There were MANY things to love but a couple that leapt out at me were; the high number of deaths within the pages (Not normal, I know but hey, that’s me!). This book really satisfied my need for a high body count. Something that has been missing from many of my recent reads. Another thing I absolutely loved was that I could never be 100% sure whether it was someONE in the woods, or someTHING (something not quite human). Brilliantly written and although I didn’t get the sense of creepiness others readers have, I was never quite sure who was killing the lost and lonely souls.
Although I enjoyed this book, it really came alive for me towards the end. What an amazing ending and one I didn’t expect. Veste had convinced me the story was going one way only to totally flip it in a different direction. I LOVED the ending of this book. Dark, malevolent and so wonderfully unexpected. It was a joy to read!
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I hope this is isn’t the last we see of Henderson and Shipley. In fact, let’s get this down on paper (or in print!). Luca Veste, I would love to see more of these characters in a future novel. Particularly if they return in a ‘verging on horror’ investigation. When an author creates a character that is a little bit different, a little bit darker than the rest – well, that makes me sit up and take notice. Surprising, different and very compelling. I really enjoyed The Bone Keeper.
Four and a half out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of The Bone Keeper. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 8th March 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |
Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage, married with two young daughters, and one of nine children. He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi novels and forthcoming standalone The Bone Keeper. His books have been translated and published in the USA, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland.
Part psychological thriller, part police procedural, the Murphy and Rossi novels take place in the city of Liverpool. Taking in both sides of a contrasting city, they explore the changing landscape of Liverpool and “bad” things which can happen within it.
His first standalone novel – The Bone Keeper – will be published in March 2018 and is a slight departure from the series. Part thriller, part horror, it has been described by as like ‘Silence of the Lambs meets Candyman’.
He was the editor of the Spinetingler Award nominated charity anthology ‘Off The Record’, and co-editor of ‘True Brit Grit’, also an anthology of short stories for charity.
He is a former civil servant, actor, singer and guitarist (although he still picks it up now and again). In his acting days, he appeared as a “background artist” – read: extra – on a number of Brookside and Hollyoaks episodes and also once spent three nights in a black leather mini-skirt and high-heels, in front of an ever-dwindling audience in a Liverpool theatre.