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The Bone Readers

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Secrets can be buried, but bones can speak... When Michael (Digger) Digson is recruited into DS Chilman’s new plain clothes squad in the small Caribbean island of Camaho he brings his own mission to discover who amongst a renegade police squad killed his mother in a political demonstration.

Sent to London to train in forensics, Digger becomes enmeshed in Chilman’s obsessio
Paperback, 270 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Peepal Tree Press (first published September 24th 2016)
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  219 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an impressive piece of crime fiction set in the Caribbean. It is a police procedural that delivers a hard hitting picture of life and culture on the island. So you have the widespread existence of men engaging in underage sex, the high level of male machismo, violence, corruption, drugs, crime, plus the abuse and the exploitation of women and girls. Much of the dialogue is in local patois, which I found easy to understand. It is a character driven story that primarily focuses on events f ...more
Nancy Oakes
The Bone Readers is, according to the back cover, the first book in Ross' 4-book crime series the Camaho Quartet, so named for the small Caribbean island where this story takes place. That's a good thing, and I'll be following this series as it's published. The Bone Readers isn't your average crime novel, the main character is not your average policeman, and the crimes are not your average crimes, all of which constitute definite plusses in my book.

We love the Caribbean islands (would move there
Dave Martin
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get one of the early Caribbean editions of this book and - oh boy! - was I rewarded. Jacob Ross's earlier works are known for their poetic narrative and crafted literary styling, so you might wonder what he's going to do, dipping into the genre of the crime thriller.
Well, as it turns out, what he’s going to do is write a tightly-plotted novel which is – yes – centred around a crime, but which expands into a literary tour-de-force exposing the culture and political corruptio
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thank you for the advance copy of The Bone Readers. This book is different to your run-of-the-mill police procedural and in a good way. Really enjoyable.

I’m not going to go through the story as other reviews have done so. What I thought made this book sing was the way that Ross immerses you in a non-European world. This novel set on a fictional island that could be any of the Caribbean islands, takes you away from the beaches and the tourist, to the ‘real’country. I’ve never been to this part of
Rod Duncan
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is going to be an unsophisticated review. More a set of notes for myself than a critical interrogation. Why? Because I’ve just finished reading it and I’m now trying to figure out how Jacob Ross’s crime story managed to get so deeply under my skin. The Bone Readers has gone straight into that small group of my all-time favourite novels.

The thing is, I do have a complaint about it. The rhythm of the ending chapters didn’t feel quite right to me. So how does it achieve that sleight of hand, w
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
Review originally written for my blog here

So, this book was announced as the winner of the Jhalak Prize last night and soI knew it was definitely time to read it. It's a crime fiction novel which is a genre I rarely ever touch as I'm not a huge fan of it, however, this novel is just wonderful and I'm definitely going to pay more attention to crime novels in the future!

As it's a crime novel, I can't say too much about the plot because that will spoil all the fun of the secrets and reveals as you
K.J. Charles
A murder mystery set on a poor postcolonial Caribbean island riddled with violent misogyny and homophobia, racism, the lingering effects of slavery in destroying healthy social structures, twisted religion. It's a pretty bleak read at times, obviously, and those triggered by violence against women should stay away. That said, it's also a very humane book--our hero is the island's sole forensics expert, as part of a chaotic little police force most of whom are struggling against the odds to make ...more
A good book - both as a police procedural mystery but also as an insight into life within Grenada (all the island of Camaho as it is called in this novel). Religious sects, animism, police cover ups, nepotism, married men with multi-girlfriends and men who have sex with young teens seem to be prevalent.
I enjoyed the dialogue and the respectful way Missa Digger and Miss Stanislaus talked between themselves.
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jacob Ross' The Bone Readers (Inpress Books 2016) is the story of Michael (Digger) Digson, a down-on-his-luck Caribbean islander who can't find a job and barely survives in the home left to him by his grandmother. He has three things going for him: a moral compass, a smart mind, and a burning need to find out why his mother left him when he was eight. When he witnesses a murder, he is able to recall important details for the investigating offer that lead to the capture of the killers. As a resul ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rather riveting tale that kept me guessing which is the mark of a successful mystery. I would like to read more of Digger (Michael Digson).
Pam Giarrizzo
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-booktrekker
If you’re old enough to remember Ronald Reagan’s presidency, you’re likely to recall when the United States invaded the Caribbean island country of Grenada. The war lasted only a few days before the U.S. declared victory, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything in the news about Grenada since.

With that as my only frame of reference, I was looking forward to learning more about Grenada. I was very happy to find a Grenadian author who had written a thriller, which is my favorite literary genre. The B
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don’t read many murder mysteries or police procedurals, but this book is a keeper. Set in the beautiful Caribbean island nation of Grenada, the fast-paced story follows the rise of a young man from poverty to purpose as he combats social stratification, an amazingly sexist culture which would make even Bill O’Reilly blush, and Third World-standard corruption to solve certain murders which are, or become, increasingly personal. The supporting cast members are well developed, the plot well thoug ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. A more down to earth 'Death in Paradise' with domestic violence, corruption and murder. "It's all just the way things are" in this male dominated culture. Cult leaders are corrupt and exploitative and add to the horror.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this. Wow!!!
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
B Sarv
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in two days, while in the thick of grading papers and planning for classes. I enjoyed it because the setting, characters and action were familiar. What really impressed me about the book, however, was the theme of the missing. This theme gripped me because it is real. It happens frequently in St. Lucia with young men between the ages of 15-25. A couple of years ago, during a two week span of time, approximately 20 young men disappeared without a trace within the same month, with ...more
Mish Middelmann
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good book by excellent Grenadan author. Lots of painful stories, mainly of male violence towards women and younger men, with a real sense of passion and determination by the lead characters to create a better world, without themselves being perfect either.
Elaine Tomasso
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I would like to thank Netgalley and Inpress Books for an advance copy of The Bone Readers, a police procedural set on the fictional West Indian island of Camaho.

Michael "Digger" Digson is co-opted into the CID by the unorthodox Superintendant Chilman because he shows promise, has no job and sees it as an opportunity to find out what happened to his mum whose body disappeared after being shot by police at a demonstration. As Digger gains experience Chilman worries over the case that got away - Na
Missy J
The Bone Readers started off strong, but somewhere in the middle I was overwhelmed by the many characters that were suddenly introduced in order to provide an explanation for the story line. But this always happen to me when I read mystery novels, so it's not the book's mistake, but rather my flaw.

When Digger was 18 years old, he was recruited into a special team of the police force in order to solve mystery cases. Digger himself has a mystery he wants to solve, where did his mother's body go w
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit to really struggling with this at first. As many others have said, the dialogue was difficult to understand and the setting was something I knew next to nothing about. Just as I was beginning to think this was one of the few book I have had to give up on, I seemed to 'get it'! From then on I couldn't put it down.

Thanks to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read and review this fascinating book.
Neil MacDonald
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Somebody asked me recently whether “there can be belles lettres in genre writing?” I replied that cross-genre fiction was always a possibility – if you can have sci-fi romance, you must be able to have "beautiful" spy novels. And I’ve just had the most electrifying confirmation of this in the book I’ve just finished reading – “The Bone Readers” by Jacob Ross. The only way you can describe it is as literary detective fiction.

The book won the Jhalak Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour. The pri
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is not your traditional crime mystery novel, but I loved it all the more for that. Set on the Caribbean island of Camaho with a host of intriguing characters and several mysteries to unravel, I enjoyed this immensely. The prose sings with the lilting voices of the Caribbean.
Digger is an intelligent, resourceful and cocky young man. DS Chilman spots the boy's talent and tricks him to joining the island's CID. Over several years Digger becomes the department's forensic expert and at times an
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars
What a very different and interesting crime book. There are some very well written reviews, so I won't bore you with a not so well written one but here are the things I enjoyed about this book:
* Very well written, and the local dialect really makes you travel to the island (and I could even understand it)
* I loved the non-conformity of the length of the chapters (I know, but I love things not to be too predictable)
* I read a lot of detective stories, but this one felt different. I was n
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A man nicknamed Digga was recruited as a plain clothes police officer. He also was trying to find out more about his moms disappearance. He also knew he was the son of an official there on the Caribbean island, but not know to many others. Digga and a woman also hired found that some of the local church leaders were suspected to be involved with torturing and fathering many many children of the church. They also found a few people missing and or killed that were linked to a certain church. His s ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a welcome change in location in crime reading.
The island of Camaho owes much to the author's home island Grenada and the story mixes modern policing procedures in an old fashioned island where brutality against women is the norm and religion is an excuse of patriarchal excesses.
I liked the idea of a new police department created from young men literally picked of the street and the main character Michael Digson becomes a forensic expert after a year in England, hence the bone reader. As
Seán Rafferty
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir
'The Bone Readers' reminded me of Chester Himes with its hip dialogue but its material is darker and set in the more exotic climes of the Caribbean, namely Grenada.
It has all the wonderful qualities of hard-bitten gumshoe crime novels. The dialogue and characterisations are terrific. The female characters are sympathetically drawn and hold their own with any of the males. Miss Stanislaus is a great creation who manages to expose the worst excesses of this patriarchal society. Ross doesn't shy aw
Maura Heaphy Dutton
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous piece of story-telling: great characters, wonderful local color, and a meaty, intriguing mystery which seems all-too plausible. Highly recommended!

I'm delighted to report that The Bone Readers has been acquired by Little Brown. They are reissuing it AND publishing the sequel next year!
Mackie Welch
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 I'm ashamed to say the dialect really took me out of it. It was like nothing I've ever read, and reading it before going to sleep...just didn't always work. The story was good enough to keep me hooked, and I'm sure in a different environment I could've flown through it, but as it was it dragged a little. Also more bone reading if that's gonna be the title. Just my opinion :)
Took a couple of pages to get a rhythm to the dialogue, but after that I really enjoyed this mystery-crime story. Fairly typical interplay of people, but the main characters are very likeable and the story is good as well as the setting with lots of locality.
Ruth Lawton
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
To be honest I abandoned it
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Jacob Ross was born in Grenada, and has lived in Britain since 1984. He is a poet, playwright, journalist, novelist and a tutor of creative writing. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been a judge of the V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, the Olive Cook, Scott Moncrieff and Tom-Gallon Literary Awards.
~ Sources: Government of Grenada and Peepal Tree Press