Title: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A stunning, wonderfully assured psychological thriller that evokes Gillian Flynn and Alice Sebold, The Bones of You revolves around a young girl’s murder and one woman’s obsession with uncovering the secrets in an idyllic English village.
I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.
Children who don’t die before their parents.
When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.
Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.
Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.
The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is an utterly heart wrenching mystery. Although not a typical police procedural, this suspenseful psychological thriller is an enthralling story about the murder of eighteen year old Rosie Anderson. Told from dual points of view, the Anderson family’s secrets, lies and betrayals are revealed and the truth about this perfect family is as shocking as it is heartbreaking.
From the second she learns her friend Joanna’s daughter is missing, Kate McKay is obsessed with learning the truth about Rosie’s disappearance. Although they are not particularly close, Rosie is the same age as Kate’s daughter, Grace and Kate immediately reaches out to Jo. Rosie and Grace were complete opposites with a different circle of friends, but Rosie spent time on the family farm helping Kate care for their horses. When Rosie’s body is discovered a few weeks after she vanished, Kate is compelled to continue supporting her grieving friend while at the same time searching for answers about Rosie’s murder.
Rumor and speculation about Rosie run rampant for several weeks, then life returns to normal for most residents of the small town. The same is true for Kate but she continues to check in on Jo and she grows increasingly alarmed at Jo’s deteriorating condition. Although understandable given her horrific loss, Kate is nonetheless shocked when her behavior becomes even more erratic. Once Jo confides the truth about her marriage, Kate does not know what to believe since Neal is a charismatic journalist who also volunteers at an orphanage in war torn Afghanistan. Even after Jo presents irrefutable proof that Neal is not the man everyone believes him to be, Kate still has doubts that he is capable of killing his daughter especially since the police cannot completely rule out Rosie’s secret boyfriend as a suspect.
While Kate remains unconvinced about Jo’s claims, readers are presented with an up close look into the Anderson family through Rosie’s eyes. Rosie’s spirit lingers after her death and she relives her life right up until the moment of her horrific murder. She sees her life as a movie and the truth about her short life is unbearably sad and unreservedly tragic. Rosie’s chapters are incredibly poignant and rather chilling but they provide valuable insight about her family and ultimately, her murder.
The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is a clever yet haunting novel. This shrewdly written mystery has plenty of unexpected twists and turns that cast reasonable doubt on the killer’s identity until the story’s stunning conclusion. An incredibly riveting psychological thriller that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.