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Hammers on Bone

(Persons Non Grata #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,727 ratings  ·  327 reviews
John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable.

He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demon
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,727 ratings  ·  327 reviews

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Dan Schwent
When a kid tries to hire John Persons to kill his stepfather, the private investigator is intrigued. Persons quickly determines the stepfather isn't of this earth. Sometimes, it takes a monster to kill a monster...

This was a Netgalley find.

The combination of noir and Lovecraftian horror is a hard one for me to pass up so I jumped on this one straight away.

John Persons is a private investigator in London and not entirely as he seems to be. When young Abel shows up, Persons is intrig/>This
I think I can read this kind of fiction forever. Like, literally 78 million years in the future, as an immortal intellectual bug, I will be reading this fiction.

To me, Lovecraftian horror is tops. Add a very solid Noir to it, a big of crunching bone and eyes everywhere, a case to solve, and I'm in heaven. Or some outer dimensional equivalent made of ice and regret and nostalgia.

Hardbitten PI meets tentacled horrors. Of course, he is one, too. :)

Highly recommended.
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovecraftian detective noir is such a cool idea.

PI John Persons has a new client, an 11-year old boy with the stink of eldritch horror on him. Persons can tell, he's very familiar with eldritch horrors, being one himself. The boy wants him to kill his step-father who is the monster in question; abusive physically, mentally and ultimately, supernaturally.

There's all the usual tropes of detective noir, particularly including the apparently innocent who are more than they appear. And o
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the thing is rage, I am a small blade in the correct place, the perfect time.

John Persons, private eye, gets all kinds of clients, but a kid with an assassination request is a first. The target? The stepfather. A monster, says the boy, and who better to kill one than another monster. After all, John Persons is not exactly what he seems.

Cassandra Khaw's Hammers on Bone is not your usual P.I. story. It's a novella that blends hardboiled noir with Lovecraftian horror and lands it in contemporary Lon
Michael Hicks
With Hammers on Bone, Cassandra Khaw gives an old-school PI story a cool Lovecraftian update. There's plenty of old-school gumshoe narration (although the story is firmly present-day), along with a heaping dose of ancient gods and gritty mysticism. If this turns out to be the first in a series it is one I'll happily return to.

PI Joe Persons takes on what should be a simple job from an eleven-year-old client: kill the boy's abusive step-father, McKinsey. The appropriately-named Person
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stars-4-0, 2018
“Please. You’re the only one who can help.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because you’re a monster too.”

This novella was a lovely surprise, although the word ‘lovely’ does in no way describe this dark tale. No, this is a horror story that takes the shape of detective fiction, and in particular that of a film noir. We have a private investigator, lone figure with hidden depths, who takes on a desperate job, that turns to be a lot more than he expected. Add to this that the horror aspect
Alasdair Stuart
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The thing about Private Eyes is they have it easy. Collar up, hat down, mean street beneath their feet and they’re a fictional needle in a fictional groove. The perfect alpha predator protagonist able to do the best they can for the worst of reasons and come out the other side battered, crumpled but alive. And, somehow, looking cooler.
John Persons is a PI. He’s got the patter, he’s got the outfit and he’s got the mindset.
But John Persons has a problem. Two actually. The first is that
K.J. Charles
Lovecraftian horror gumshoe noir set in contemporary London. As you do.

I enjoyed this a lot, unsurprisingly. Bristling with anger and violence and gory details and a sense of lurking horror, both cosmic and domestic. I felt there could have been a lot more made of it, as the core plot of a full length novel, but there's a sequel so it looks like the author is planning to expand the world. Fabulous cover.
Alex Bledsoe
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for noir crossover stuff. Using the pulp fiction detective form to tell horror, SF, and fantasy stories draws me in almost immediately. This is a trip into Lovecraft territory courtesy of a Hammett-esque PI who's actually an otherworldly monster possessing the body of a dead Londoner (I think; it's a little vague). He's all "dame" this and "kid" that, except in this case the "dame" is Shub-Niggurath and the "kid" isn't what he claims to be, either. I enjoyed almost everything about ...more
Barb (Boxermommyreads)
While I enjoyed this book, I think I would have enjoyed it better had it been a full length novel. All the time I was reading it I kept thinking I had missed reading the first book and since there isn't one, I can only believe I needed more information to make the story work for me.

John Persons is a private investigator with a secret, he not only hunts monsters, he is one himself. So in other word, John Persons really isn't a person at all. One day he is approached by a young boy who wants him
I really liked this Lovecraftian private-eye story by Khaw. This story just had a swagger and attitude about it that I really loved. Yes, Khaw uses a lot of noir detective fiction tropes but it just works with the story and the Lovecraftian monsters. What pushed this over from a 3 star to a 4 star read for me was the prose. Khaw has a style that is really unique to herself. Where other authors write odd similes and metaphors that don't work in the scene or their writing style, Khaw just makes th ...more
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

Hammers on Bone is set in present day London and stars a mysterious detective, a creepy kid, and hidden horrors. Powerful, dark and filled with more than a few twists, this is a novella sure to excite fans of Lovecraftian noir.

Following along behind a loner named John Persons, readers are immediately sucked into the story when a young boy tries to hire this private eye to kill his stepfather, McKinsey. The kid explaining that some evil presence has infected McKinse/>Hammers
The Grim Reader
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mythos created by Lovecraft so many years ago still resonates strongly with readers today. Some writers use the source material as a platform to create something new and original whereas others take a slightly more traditional route and choose to expand on Lovecraft’s original story ideas but sometimes at the expense of injecting any of their own personality into the story. The cover art sucked me into this one (haha). I think it’s great, and Cassandra Khaw’s writing is equally impressive. ...more
Received to review via Netgalley

Hammers on Bone is a fun novella which blends both noir detective fiction and something that looks to me like the Cthulhu mythos, though I’m not very versed in the latter. It drips with cliches in a way that works, because the main character is a man out of time — straight from hard-boiled detective fiction, despite the modern setting. The story draws you on with the mystery of what exactly John Persons is. It’s apparent from the beginning that he’s a
Brandon Petry
This one is worth sticking with, even if the hard-boiled aspects don't float your boat at the start, this novella gets some interesting depth the more you read. And it was fun. I'm hooked and will be picking up the second book, A Song for Quiet, as soon as I see it. Tor is killing it lately with these slim novellas. I just finished the very strange (like I'm still not sure how I feel about it but I liked it) The Warren before picking this one up and next I think I will read Mapping the Interior.

And now that
Red Lace Reviews
It's not every day a ten-year-old child tries to hire John Persons, especially when the job involves the killing of said child's stepfather. Abusive, with a monster living inside his flesh, the target proves to be more formidable than first expected. But the hunt is on, and John, being a monster himself, is determined to stop the man. Him, and the spread of sickness that buries itself deep.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

My third title for the Ladies of Horror Fiction
4.5 stars.
John Persons is a private investigator who lives in Croydon, London. At the beginning of the novella he is hired by a ten-year-old. The kid wants him to kill his stepdad, who is a monster.
Persons is perfect for the job, since he's a monster too.
Hammers on Bone is both a detective story and a discussion of domestic abuse, because more often than not we don't recognize the monsters in our lives.

It's not until I've clicked the door shut that I hear tiny feet scrabbling over woo/>It's/>Hammers
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
Tor is KILLING it with these novellas! Cassandra Khaw's HAMMER ON BONE is absolutely amazing. I love her lavish descriptions, her evocative prose, the way she paints a horrifying picture and breaths life into it. I'd call it a desirable nightmare. Khaw's style is something I'd like to develop in my own writing. She really knows how to tell a great story.
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary
Very enjoyable. The MC reminds me a bit of Felix Castro. Love the Lovecraftian world it's built from.

Elle Maruska


I sometimes have trouble articulating what about the Lovecraftian aesthetic I so enjoy because my hatred for H.P. Lovecraft is unmatched. Stephen King gets close sometimes, to broaching cosmic horror in the right way, to making up for the lack of humanism in Lovecraft's universe. But this book gets it so on the mark it's incredible.

Cosmic horror is disgusting. It should be. It's all the sinew and tendons and bones and viscera of life tossed a
David Stringer
I really enjoyed this book. Why? Well I enjoyed the Noir feel to it, and the first person style narration, which was further mixed with being set in the current day and also has a bit of fantasy type magical monsters thrown in. What a recipe.

And bearing all that in mind, the story doesn't get mixed up or confusing, it makes it quite charming and definitely an entertaining read. The author has a very slick, cool writing style that will definitely have me keeping an eye out for future
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was spectacular. Khaw delivers a killing blow with a tale of modern day noir set in London, with deep Lovecraftian horror, and a hard glance at domestic violence.

The prose in "Hammers on Bone" is wonderful. Subtle, yet impactful. Dripping with atmosphere. Evoking the noirish language while trading blows with pop cultural references. Superb understanding of Lovecraftian Mythos. The list goes on.

John Persons is a gumshoe, hired by a kid to kill his stepfather, who
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atmospheric Lovecraftian noir with a really tremendous eye for detail, which packs a lot of (horrible) content in a very slim volume. The one thing for which I deducted one star was that it follows a lot of noir in that the narrator is aggressively misogynistic--it's mostly the narrator, though I wished that the two kids hadn't both been male, as this ends up centring the story on male movers and shakers, with the two female characters relegated to background parts.
If you like Dashiel Hammett a
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not entirely sure I 'got' this one. I was entertained for its short page length, and even properly creeped out by the title's eventual emergence. But I really couldn't tell you what is going on here and there a lot of pieces left to this world's puzzle.

Sometimes this open ended style works great for me, this time just so-so.
3.5 Stars
I'd so love to give this 5 stars as the writing is amazing, the pacing is on point and the horror is vivid and creepy and Persons is wonderful in his in-betweeness state. But sadly there was also the typical noir PI dude misogyny. I'll still give the sequel a chance though and I think I'd love other works by this author without this perspective.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-fiction, horror
A horror novella mixing together noir detectives and Cthulhu mythos. On the lower end of three stars - not because it wasn't good, but because the story wasn't for me. Two stars felt a bit low for the writing quality, though.
The Grim Reader
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great stuff! Review soon.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Goodreads glitched and ate my review. T_T Now I'm sulking and will just say that this detective noir/urban fantasy is worth a read.
John Persons is a private investigator... or is he? Lovecraftian, and I have no idea what actually happened. Or do I?
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Cassandra Khaw writes horror, video games, tweets for money, articles about video games, and tabletop RPGs. These are not necessarily unrelated items. Her work can be found in professional short story magazines such as Clarkesworld, Fireside Fiction, Uncanny, and Shimmer. Cassandra's first paranormal rom-com Bearly a Lady releases this year. She hopes no one will be very startled by A Song for Qui ...more

Other books in the series

Persons Non Grata (2 books)
  • A Song for Quiet (Persons Non Grata, #2)
“One of the most effective tricks in a gumshoe's playbook is the act of silence. Wait. Let the other guy pull the trigger first. It costs you nothing, and it gets you everything.” 2 likes
“The world’s too full of trouble to adopt those that don’t belong to you.” 2 likes
More quotes…