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Book Two in the Lakes crime thriller trilogy featuring CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Weston

Driving on a country road late at night,
you hit a child.
There are no witnesses.
You have everything to lose.
What do you do?

The traditional Appleby Horse Fair hosts the largest gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in Europe.

The sudden influx of more than 40,000 visitors into the small Lakeland town has always caused its share of problems, with strained relations between off-comers and locals.

But it’s also known as a good time to settle old scores.

This year, the Fair brings with it with the discovery of two bodies near the River Eden—one very recent and another a long time buried.

As Crime Scene Investigator Grace McColl and Detective Constable Nick Weston search for answers, old secrets are revealed, old wounds are reopened, and tensions threaten to erupt into violence.

While someone much closer to home is trying to get away with murder…

Kindle Edition

First published May 26, 2020

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About the author

Zoë Sharp

62 books455 followers
Zoë Sharp spent most of her formative years living aboard a catamaran on the northwest coast of England. She opted out of mainstream education at the age of twelve and wrote her first novel at fifteen. She became a freelance photojournalist in 1988 and started writing her Charlie Fox crime thriller series after receiving death-threats in the course of her work.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen Carden.
278 reviews70 followers
November 30, 2021
Many pairings are made in heaven or hell in Bones in the River; where modern forensic science intrudes upon the centuries old Appleby Horse Fair.
You will discover Gypsies whose antecedents fade into the mists of an unknown migration from India juxtaposed against modern police officers and their methods. Then there is the discovery of two bodies that are entwined with the ancient horse fair held along the River Eden in Cambria.
The Appleby Horse Fair is where Gypsies and Irish Travellers from across Europe gather for horse trading, racing and general merriment; and maybe a few crimes.
Fast forward to today with the fair becoming a major tourist attraction drawing in tourists to see the stunning horses, plush RVs and elaborately painted horse-drawn vardos, as well as sales tents featuring beautiful crafts and cheap junk, dukkering (fortune-telling), and the great River Eden horse washing.
. Two bodies are discovered, one of old bones buried beside the River Eden, unearthed in a flash flood. While another body is of a small local boy, victim of a possible drunk driving incident. The main suspect’s luck runs out when the CSI assigned to the child’s body turns out to be his personal nemesis Grace McColl. What started out as the perfect crime morphs into something much worse by the suspect’s stupidity and hubris.
According to the townspeople of Appleby, both crimes were committed by Gypsies; the customary attitude toward “the others”, right? The town's usual toleration of the Gypsies and Travellers is erased immediately. Actually Gypsies or Travellers commit “all” crimes during that time period. An ugly attitude that makes a perfect time for payback among citizens with each other. Just wait for the fair.
In another great pairing (oh lordy, where is my wine?) CSI Grace McColl is once again working with D.C. Nick Weston. One is intuitive, one is dogged; or is it the other way around? Both work well together and must band together to overcome a misunderstanding that could end the Appleby Horse Fair.
The Queen of the book is the appropriately named Queenie. Her brother and husband clash while vying to replace her father, the Shera Rom, the recently deceased head of the clan and the main peacekeeper of the Appleby Horse Fair. Queenie also has a second pairing with her total opposite.
Queenie’s shrewdness and strength help McColl and Weston navigate the hidden stories of her clan. The final pairing of the two deaths bring full circle the closing of a heartbreaking mystery. Not for Sharp the easy ending
Sharp writing is that of a poet. Her introduction of the River Eden’s beginning and continuing path is a beautiful prose poem flowing through the book.
Sharp’s description of the Gypsy and Travellers lifestyle and mores is fascinating. She elaborately describes the beauty of the wanders’ way of life but doesn’t whitewash a culture hard for outsiders to understand with its traditions that contradict the way non-Rom have been raised and taught.
Queenie’s shrewdness and strength help McColl and Weston navigate the hidden stories of her clan. The two deaths bring full circle the closing of a heartbreaking mystery; the deaths are the final pairing. Not for Sharp the easy ending.
Bones in the River is a complex book with equally compelling secondary stories. . There is no time for the reader to rest, this book is a Duracell battery, it keeps on running. but not in a race, it is a thoughtfully crafted tale and Sharp is not above sneaking dry humor into the book.
You won’t want to put the book down, who knows what might happen while you are away. (I’m of the Jasper Fforde School of novel reading)
I should mention this is the second book in a trilogy with the first book being Dancing on the Grave which I enjoyed just as much. They can be read as standalones, but as I always say why deprive oneself of a treat?
Thank you to Zoe Sharp for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
October 1, 2020
4☆ a psychological police thriller during the historic Appleby Horse Fair

Zoe Sharp's Bones in the River, #2 in a planned trilogy, is set in Cumbria, home to the famed Lakes District National Park in northern England. An otherwise sleepy market town plays host to the annual horse fair, in which 40,000 visitors from the general public, Gypsies and Travellers overwhelm Appleby's 3,000 inhabitants and the county police resources.
Half the businesses in town rub their hands in glee about all the extra income, and the other half shut up shop and treat it as enforced holiday. It's a well-known fact ... it is the ideal time of year for settling old scores.

For such a small county populace, numerous parties capitalize on the distraction and cover provided by the fair for their illegal schemes. What's even handier are the Gypsies and Travellers, as these marginalised fringe peoples can be the perfect scapegoat as they decamp en masse just as quickly as they arrive for the four days of the fair. A driver depends upon this as he strikes down a child and then commits to thwarting the police investigation. The killer's psyche is simultaneously unraveling from the stress:
his mind felt cornered... tucked in tight from the horror and shame of what he'd done.

Within the Gypsy encampment, a power vacuum exists since the death of their Shera Rom a month earlier. His son and son-in-law jockey to be the clan's next leader. The Gypsies are known for refusing to back down from a fight and have a reputation for bare knuckles boxing. The two brothers-in-law also have their own illicit money-maker to run.

The tension in Bones in the River ratchets up as unflinchingly and persistently as the drummer and flutist's notes in Ravel's Bolero. The sense of menace is a constant. All this kept my interest in the first third of the book as the characters and criminal storylines are being established. The story's pacing and emotional drama kick into higher gear as the first victim's remains are discovered by the River Eden. And then there are two.
we've now had two bodies turn up - of local people - while the Fair is in town, and the rumours are rife

The lead protagonists are CSI Grace McColl and DC Nick Weston, who were introduced in the first novel, Dancing On The Grave, which I have not read. That wasn't an issue, as Sharp has a very deft hand in portraying characters with spare language capable of painting a full portrait. Grace is gifted with an intuitive ability to read forensic evidence and her expertise arouses jealousy. Nick had relocated from undercover work in London for the sake of saving his personal life and then finds himself wrong-footed by that very same family messiness.

As this is a police thriller, a company of characters makes up the crime investigation and the crime scene divisions. Dr. Onatade quickly became a favorite as the medical examiner whose formidable intelligence and wide smile easily disarm objections.

I'm an enormous fan of Sharp's Charlie Fox, the ex-army turned bodyguard, who stars in 13 novels and who is my vote for the best ever female main protagonist in crime fiction! So I was a bit apprehensive that I wouldn't like this book as much. This was unfounded as Zoe Sharp is an incredibly good writer who is inventive, while remaining credible, in delivering her storyline twists. Sharp also can be counted upon for providing admirable female characters against the backdrops of casual misogyny and domestic abuse and doing so with a light touch. I look forward to reading future sequels in this series.

This review is for an advance reader copy I received in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Zoe.

Sharp launched a blog tour for today's publication of Bones in the River.
Profile Image for The Cats’ Mother.
2,042 reviews122 followers
May 26, 2020
Bones in the River is the second part of a trilogy set in the English Lake District, featuring CSI Grace McColl and DC Nick Weston. I read the first, Dancing on the Grave, two years ago, and was very much hoping for a sequel as it was brilliant, but the stories do stand alone, so don’t be put off if you haven’t read that one. I was thrilled to once again receive a review copy directly from the author - better known for the Charlie Fox series - as part of her Advance Reader Team - and am chuffed to bits to be able to post the first review!

Set about a year after the events of the first book, this begins with a hit & run on a lonely country road which kills a child riding his bicycle late at night. The driver knows he’s over the limit, and that discovery will cost him everything, so he conceals the evidence and returns home, using his position to divert the investigation, and the distraction of the annual Gypsy Horse Fair arriving in the area to shift the blame elsewhere. Then a flash flood frees a trapped body from its shallow grave, and old secrets, passions and resentments will come to light as the misunderstood Romany and resentful townspeople clash once more.

The twin strengths of these books are the unique characters and the superb writing. I really like Grace & Nick, but it’s the enigmatic Queenie - gypsy royalty, battling to keep the peace between her belligerent brother and equally bellicose husband, while maintaining traditions but protecting her family who’s the real star of the book. I also adored Ayoola Onatade, the super cool pathologist and even Tyson the geeky CSI tech. The villains - are there were a surprising amount - were vividly drawn - nothing was lost by knowing the identity of the main perpetrator from the start, as he justifies his actions to himself in spite of boiling in guilt. Nick’s girlfriend Lisa was another character you just love to hate too. Grace is smart, compassionate and resourceful while Nick is admirably patient and determined to do the right thing.

I was pleased to discover that the Horse Fair is a real annual event (although sadly it’s been cancelled this year alongside everything else) - Google even showed me pictures! I was fascinated by all the details of gypsy culture, language and customs, and who doesn’t love a book featuring stunning horses and a clever dog! The descriptions of the stunning Lakes scenery make me question once again why I’ve hardly ever visited there when I lived in the UK.
I’m always interested by lots of details of forensics but they don’t overwhelm the story.

The mystery aspect was fine - there were no huge surprises but the plot was strong enough to keep me riveted through a longer than average ebook (9-10 hours according to my kindle.) I also really like the cover art - with so many books looking the same these days, it stands out effectively.

While the Charlie Fox series is my favourite of all, this is a different but equally enjoyable kind of thriller - gentler but no less compelling - so if you haven’t already read any of Ms Fox’s books I highly recommend diving in, and if you have, you won’t be disappointed by this one.
Bones in the River is published today.
Profile Image for Sarah.
2,575 reviews164 followers
May 16, 2020
It always horrifies me when you hear of hit and run accidents. I would like to think most of us would do the right thing if the unfortunate ever happened but sadly this isn’t always the case.

The fact that there are two deaths to investigate made this story much more intriguing. Especially as one happened years before. Throw into the equation that gypsies have set up home, the police, like most of us, can’t help to jump to conclusions as to who might be behind the deaths.

From the start the reader knows who the culprit is for the hit and run. I loved that we knew, adding to the tension of the already gripping story line and making me want to scream at the characters at who its was. The author spends time on the investigation and the leg work of interviewing. This leads to some shocking discoveries as well as getting to know the people under investigation better. Of which some had me disliking more whilst others my empathy increased.

Bones In The River is a realistic crime thriller that kept me hooked throughout. The author makes every minute of the investigation interesting and I couldn’t wait to discover what was waiting for me with each new chapter. It is a story filled with hidden secrets and lies which made it all the more exciting as Grace and the team work hard in unveiling the truth. A tense, page turner of a read.

My thanks to Ayo for the invite onto the blog tour and to the author for an advanced readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.
Profile Image for RachelW (BamaGal).
746 reviews66 followers
May 1, 2020
You can’t go wrong with a Zoe Sharp book, even when it’s not Charlie Fox. I enjoyed the story for the most part. I like UK police procedurals, and Nick and Grace were good, well fleshed out characters. The author’s choice for the big bad was great. Don’t see that scenario played out very often. There was a little bit of wandering in the plotline, and far too much minutiae. I sent in the requested advance reader report to the author a few weeks ago, and will save the full review for the release of the book. There are bound to be a number of changes by then.
Profile Image for Diane.
641 reviews23 followers
June 23, 2020
Another good read from Zoe Sharp. At first a bit of a challenge for me - the English and Romany dialects, but once I got the hang of where Ms Sharp was going the story moved along fairly well. A very nice addition to her latest series (CSI Grace McColl and DC Nick Weston), but can be read as a stand alone. Worth the read!

4 solid stars and 2 thumbs up.

From the blurb:

The traditional Appleby Horse Fair hosts the largest gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in Europe.
The sudden influx of more than 40,000 visitors into the small Lakeland town has always caused its share of problems, with strained relations between off-comers and locals.
But it’s also known as a good time to settle old scores.

This year, the Fair brings with it with the discovery of two bodies near the River Eden—one very recent and another a long time buried.

As CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Weston search for answers, old secrets are revealed, old wounds are reopened, and tensions threaten to erupt into violence.

While someone much closer to home is trying to get away with murder…
Profile Image for Karmen.
Author 10 books30 followers
May 10, 2020
Bones in The River is an exciting, twisty novel with many exciting characters. In this second book in the Lakes Thriller Trilogy, Grace McColl confronts multiple villains, including one she works for, as well as the more figurative one of prejudice and stereotypes against the Traveller community.

Parallel to the main investigation of cracking the mystery of a bloodied boy's bike and a possibly missing boy runs a story of human bones discovered beside the River of Eden. Is there a connection between the bodies and the Traveller community that regularly meets at Appleby Horse Fair? Digging for the answers leads through a suspenseful plot featuring Grace and her investigation on one side and Queenie, a young member of the Traveller community who has her own secrets and answers to find, on the other.

The story is expertly crafted and shows a great deal of research behind the writing. Rich with cultural detail, the novel gives the reader much more than just a good story. Strong and fully rounded female characters are a hallmark of Zoe Sharp's writing. This book is no different.

I received a free advanced reader's copy of this book. Though my reading preference leans towards first-person narratives and Sharp's really excellent Charlie Fox series, I thoroughly enjoyed both of the Lakes thrillers and am looking forward to the next one.
Profile Image for Sue.
4 reviews
May 1, 2020
I would like to thank Zoe Sharp for the ARC of Bones in the River, the second book in the Lakes thriller trilogy. While Sharp’s Charlie Fox books are one of my favourite series and I have read her book The Blood Whisperer (I really liked this book as well and had always hoped for a sequel!) I had not read the first book in the trilogy, Dancing on the Grave. So when I received my copy of Bones in the River, I quickly downloaded book one and started to read. I finished the first book, enjoyed it and liked the characters of Grace and Nick, but the Charlie Fox series was still my favourite by far. I started to read book two and I very quickly got caught up in the storyline. Much faster than book one. I believe it was the combination of returning familiar characters Grace, Nick, Ty and Pollock, the introduction of new characters such as Queenie and her family, the Elliot’s, reading about the Gypsies and their traditions and the strong writing style of Sharp. I was instantly hooked to the point it resulted in a few late nights reading and struggling to get up in the morning to head to work! I thoroughly enjoyed the characters of Grace and Nick and seeing their storylines develop, witnessing more of their personal lives with scenes with Eleanor, Lisa and Sophie. Also I found with the Gypsies and the descriptions of their lifestyle and traditions were so interesting and descriptive that I often found myself googling throughout the book to research topics that have been mentioned. As for the plot I found it was very strong and every time when I thought I had it figured out another twist would be introduced. While this is a trilogy, this book could be read as a stand-alone but I highly recommend reading the first book. Thanks again to Zoe Sharp for another great book.
4 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2020
Zoë Sharp’s longtime readers will not be disappointed by BONES IN THE RIVER, her latest mystery/thriller in a new trilogy begun with 2018’s DANCING ON THE GRAVE.
New readers who never tried Sharp’s ‘Charlie Fox’ series will enjoy BONES. Still distinctly Sharpish, it’s a traditional English country police procedural – a taut and graceful ‘almost-cozy’ with just a little on-page violence.
Sharp’s ‘Lakes Thrillers’ pairing of CSI Grace McColl with Detective Nick Weston must unravel the circumstances around the death of a child on a bike at night – an adolescent boy. Meanwhile, the Roma, aka Gypsies and English Travelers, have arrived for the annual Appleby Horse Fair, where bargains are made for horseflesh, marriages, money, and political leadership among the tribes.
The investigation is profoundly complicated by the dislike and distrust of the locals for the Gypsies, and the Gypsies for the ‘outsiders’ – especially the Cumbria Constabulary. The past casts many shadows on the present, and for all involved the possibility of a knife in the back is no mere metaphor.
Zoë Sharp’s characters and plots are always fully-formed, believable, and driven by believable circumstances. In BONES IN THE RIVER, she writes an especially fine and fair portrayal of the modern Roma, living in the now while still attached to millennia of culture.
Strongly recommended.
Profile Image for Elvan.
644 reviews2 followers
May 28, 2020
4.5 Stars

A pleasure to read. This second book in the series features CSI Grace McColl and DC Nick Weston once again as they try to solve a crime from the past while they hunt for a missing child in the present. The Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria becomes another character in this mystery involving gypsies, the Travellers who make this annual fair something special. Without ruffling the feathers of the Romani or the locals and handcuffed by a less than willing new head of the CSI, it's up to Grace and Nick to weed through the evidence and sort out the murders.
Loved this read. I enjoyed learning about this free fair which has been running for centuries in the same area along with learning a bit more about the Romani culture and prejudice they deal with on the daily. Grace is finding her feet as a valuable CSI and Nick continues to battle his work and personal lives and still help find the killers.
Profile Image for Sara.
393 reviews
May 31, 2020
CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Weston are back in book two in the Lake Thriller trilogy. The book opens with a murder. This isn’t a whodunnit, we find out immediately who the killer is although the police don’t know. During the investigation of this crime a body washes up in the river and the two cases become intertwined.

I really enjoyed the procedural aspect of the story. I also like these characters very much. There were a couple of plot devices I did not enjoy. I won’t get into specifics because it might influence the reader; I just want to explain the lower star rating. Overall, this was a solid story with great characters. It was well researched, or at least seemed to be, the details were very interesting. I really like all the animals, from pets to breeding horses, the personalities were as filled out as their human counterparts.

This could definitely be read as a stand alone, but the first book, Dancing on the Grave is fantastic.
Profile Image for Karen Cole.
876 reviews113 followers
May 25, 2020
When I reviewed Zoë Sharp's Dancing On The Grave a couple of years ago, I concluded it with the hope that the standalone would become a series and so I was delighted to discover that yes, Grace McColl and Nick Weston were going to appear again in Bones In The River, the second book in what is now the Lakes Thriller trilogy.
The novel opens with the death of a child and though it was an accident, the killer makes a panicked decision to hide the evidence. His identity is revealed to the readers very early in the book but rather than diminishing the tension, knowing who was responsible ahead of the investigating team actually increases the sense of nerve-wracking anticipation to the proceedings. There's a tantalising game of cat-and-mouse played out as the perpetrator takes progressively wilder steps to evade being caught even as a crucial piece of evidence lies in the hands of the police.
The discovery of the boy's badly damaged and bloodied bicycle sparks a concerned investigation into his disappearance and if a missing child is always likely to stir up emotions in a community, the prospect of violence becomes even more probable here with the influx of Gypsies and Travellers arriving for the Appleby Horse Fair. Relations between locals and the Travelling Community are always strained but as a second body is discovered, the age-old stigma and mistrust of Gypsies means many are quick to accuse them of both crimes and to make it clear they are even less welcome in the area.
The Fair also brings with it the added complication of old arguments - among different Gypsy clans and with the locals. Usually the Shera Rom (head man) keeps a tight grip on things but Hezekiah Smith's recent death means the position in waiting to be filled. More than one man wants the role and they won't risk losing face even if it results in bloodshed. Zoë Sharp's writes of the difficulties arising from hostilities between locals and the Travelling Community with empathetic insight and her use of Romany words throughout adds an authentic flavour to the story. She draws attention to the abiding bigotry directed at Gypsies whilst still acknowledging their own difficult issues - perhaps most notably regarding some of their less than enlightened attitudes towards women. With that in mind, Queenie Smith is undoubtedly one of the most engaging characters in the novel; her strength and courage in the light of all she endures here meant that I looked forward to every scene this superbly rendered woman appears in.
The strong characterisation extends beyond Queenie, of course; I loved Detective Nick Weston and CSI Grace McColl in the first book and that was cemented here as their contrasting roles and investigative styles perfectly complement one another. The chemistry between them continues to simmer and I welcomed the introduction of Grace's mother, Eleanor who interferes just enough in her daughter's life. Meanwhile, the acting Head of CSI, Chris Blenkinship is a thoroughly unlikeable man whose arrogant behaviour ensured I was desperate for his comeuppance. On that score, I particularly loved the fabulous Force Medical Examiner, Dr Ayo Onatade (that name will obviously be familiar to many crime fiction lovers!) whose cool attitude and depth of knowledge so ably puts him in his place on a few occasions.
Bones In The River is a gripping police procedural and the intertwining investigations into both a tragic new case and the discovery of a body killed a decade ago are captivating throughout. With long-hidden and more recent secrets gradually being uncovered, the drama is never less than compelling, the sense of place is vividly evoked and the perceptive exploration of complex family issues is thoroughly engrossing. Zoë Sharp's writing is always first-rate but there are moments when it becomes utterly beautiful and the lyrical poeticism she uses in her descriptions of the river or the day as a storm approaches are simply outstanding passages that I read twice just to savour them.
Bones In The River is as brilliant as I've come to expect from an author who has become one of my favourites. It's dark, shocking and exciting but is imbued throughout with intuitive empathy and a dry wit - I loved it!
Profile Image for Jen.
1,226 reviews62 followers
May 17, 2020
If you like a mystery in which CSI and Detective work side by side (sort of) in order to solve a crime one that in this case, at least from the start, isn't clear to them is even a crime yet, then this is definitely the book for you. Now, as readers we are faced with a perspective that is completely separate from that of the investigating team. We know. things that they have yet to discover, but then they are set to make a discovery that will take us by surprise too. Confused? You won't be if you read the book - which I highly recommend you do as it is a brilliant read.

We start with a case of a potential hit and run, one with a startling conclusion that will guarantee to take you by surprise. But this is not the only thread in this story and when a skeleton is discovered on the riverbank close to the annual Horse Fair in Appleby, it leads Grace McColl and Nick Weston to a group of travellers who are haunted by both secrets and a familial legacy which leads to all kinds of conflicts.

It is easy to paint Travellers in a negative light, as nothing more than thieves, not to be trusted. It is the reputation they have earned, whether justified or not, as they lead a lifestyle that many in the more rooted community cannot understand. However, whilst there is an air of mystery about certain members of the community, Zoe Sharp has worked hard not to bow to any singular stereotype, or make any aspersions about travellers in general, whilst still conveying the judgement and prejudice that they community is subjected to. It is a delicate balance but very carefully handled. It was the elements of the story in which the traveller culture is explored more closely, that idea of the sort of head of a clan, which I found fascinating. The story served to challenge my own prejudices without alienating me from what I was reading and i often found myself incensed by the behaviour of the self proclaimed civilised locals who sought to discriminate against the travellers in their midst. Like every community, there are the good and the bad folk, and the bad are not always easy to identify whilst those you may trust least can often take you by surprise.

I do love the characters of Grace and Nick and the chemistry between them is undeniable. It's not an easy partnership, several obstacles standing in their way,. not least of which is Nick's partner - the mother of his child. Theirs is a complicated relationship, not likely to be made any easier by revelations from within this book. Then there is Grace's ex-husband - a man who cannot take a hint when told that they are over. Of course that's not made any easier when you factor in Grace's mother, Eleanor. Oh my word how I like her. She is a canny lady that's for sure and she has the measure of those around her very quickly. She is keen, quick witted and very sly in her own way. A brilliant character and it's easy to see where some of Grace's spirit comes from. And it's a good thing that Grace is so determined and strong as she will need her wits about her this time around as at least one of the people she is hunting for knows how to stay one step ahead.

One other character was was something of a revelation in this book is Queenie. Although she lives her life in a largely patriarchal community where her only role is to support her husband and bring up her children (and I say only with a roll of my eyes and more than a hint of sarcasm), she is so strong of spirit and heart that you cannot help but admire her. She is the calm at the heart ofa. storm, a voice of reason unafraid to stand up for what she believes in, no matter what peril she puts herself in. She is naturally wary of the police having had no reason to trust them in the past, but the reluctant respect she shares with Grace helps to drive the story. There is a real depth to her character and she is easy to grow to like. Although it's not always easy to understand her acquiescence to her husband and brother, there is that underlying spark that signals a woman who will ultimately not be cowed by others.

The book is full of moments of tension and conflict and moments that will make you smile in spite of a very hard hitting storyline. It is a tale of long held secrets, of prejudice and mistrust and of family, for good or for bad. Parts will make your heart break, others will even make you angry or perhaps make you laugh. But what they will do is combine to produce a storyline that is 100% absorbing and a completely compelling read in a series I am loving.

I know this series is set to be a trilogy, but then it was only ever going to be a standalone at one stage. Is it too much to hope for that after book three there might just be room for a little more? Fingers crossed as these books are definitely recommended.
Profile Image for Judith Baxter.
185 reviews19 followers
May 3, 2020
As part of Zoe Sharp’s Advance Reader Team, I am delighted to say I recently received a copy of her latest book in the Lake Thriller Trilogy,

This is book No 2 and once again we meet CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Watson whom we met in Dancing on the Grave., This time they are brought together on a couple of murders which may or may not be linked.

‘The traditional Appleby Horse Fair hosts the largest gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in Europe…” And it is in this setting with the rivalry between the Travellers and locals that Ms Sharp sets the scene.

As she says “Half the businesses in town rub their hands in glee about all the extra income, and the other half shut up shop and treat it as an enforced holiday. It’s a well-known fact … it is the ideal time of year for settling scores.”

A child’s bicycle is found dumped in a skip at the side of the road. Grace McColl is called in when it is discovered there is blood on the frame, human blood. Enter Nick Watson, detective recently moved from London to this quiet region of the Fells. But is there a body? and to whom does the bike belong?

While investigating this, the body of an adult is thrown up by the fast-moving river. But there is no identification on him, and why would there be when it is determined that the body has been in the water for ten years or more?

So our protagonists are working on a missing child and a dead adult, both cases at the same time. And all the while in the background, Grace’s boss is working against her and actively confusing one of the cases on which she is working.

Apart from McColl and Weston we once again have the familiar characters of Pollock and Ty Frost and we are introduced to more characters such as Queenie and Bartley Smith, Vano Smith, the Elliots and their complicated family.

As always, the story is well-plotted, the characters well rounded and the plot is believable. And thanks to Ms Sharp for the research that leads to such a strong and believable background to this gripping story. Thank you; I really enjoyed reading about Travellers and their traditions.

I love all of Ms Sharp’s writing and while Charlie Fox will always be my favourite, the more I read of this pair the more I like them. I am looking forward to Book 3.

I recommend you get a copy of this without delay.

Note – As I have said, I was given an Advance copy of this book and thank the author for that.
Profile Image for Any Length.
1,518 reviews
May 24, 2020
A gripping "double who done it" set in the surrounds of the Appleby Horse Fair where the Romanies/ Gypsies/Travellers come to trade and display their wares each year and this year also to elect a new leader. So we get one killing from the start but the perp is very good at sewing false leads and hiding behind his job. During the fair, which comes with a number of interesting characters who have their own shady and complex history, another body is unearthed - literally. Toss in some subterfuge, a missing boy whose family is riddled with issues, some personal issues of our beloved main characters the reader simply wants to know more about, a touch of handling stolen goods, some on the side organized street fighting, a bit of domestic violence, some cultural diversity and a number of new words (all in the glossary!) because some Romany have their own language and now we have one missing boy who we know is dead and a second body which we have to figure out who it is and how the person died. Enter Detective Nick Weston and CSI Grace McColl who have a fair bit of unspoken chemistry between them and are doggedly pursuing the truth and you have one great book which will keep you up all night because you just have to read one more chapter and find out how it goes on.

In the interest of fairness I will say that I am a member of Zoë Sharp's advanced reader team and was given a free copy of this book.
40 reviews
May 26, 2020
WOW! I loved this book!
This book is the second to feature CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Weston. From the first chapter you know that you are in for a terrific read. It is set in a small town in the Lakelands during the Applebey Horse Fair which is where annually, travellers / gypsies gather from all over Europe.
While this causes some people in the village to close doors to the arrivals, many are welcoming. But with so many extra people descended on the village and only a small number of local police to keep the peace, it is also the perfect time for revenge, or murder.
This story is so suspenseful – full of nail-biting scenes where I found myself almost shouting at the page (like some do at the TV 😉).
I like that although it features the police, that it’s not too bogged down in procedure. The writing moves the story along at a perfect pace with a few beautiful scenes of the landscape intercutting the drama.
There are some fantastic characters in this book, some will have you crying, and some will have you laughing, and there are a few of which you will want to see more. Oh! And there are horses….
Zoë Sharp can always be relied on to deliver a story that has been well thought out and layered so that you feel the pulse of the story. I know I’ve enjoyed a book when I don’t want to finish it which has been the case with this novel… or may I extend that to all or her books.
(I have been fortunate to be part of the ART for this book)
Profile Image for K.D. Kinchen.
Author 3 books2 followers
May 27, 2020
Wow! I loved this one. I tried so hard to take my time and make it last, but I couldn't!

I had to know how it ended. I won't say "I had to know who dunnit" because, interestingly, we know from the start. What we don't know, is how they are going to get away with it and how justice is going to be served. This is a new style of storytelling for Sharp and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but, as with the fist novel in this series (Dancing on the Grave) I found it did not detract from the story any. If anything, the game of cat and mouse grew all the more tense because you could see the tricks and devious methods the perp. was employing in their attempts to get away with it and by the end I was almost aching for them to get their comeuppance.

What also added to my enjoyment of this book was the addition of a second unexplained death, which did provide me with a whodunnit, made all the more difficult by the length of time passed since the poor soul died.

Sharp has really hit her stride with this book, the feel and flow of the story is fully matured and the characters even deeper than the previous book. I absolutely loved it. I also really, really loved the little touch of adding in the river as a POV here and there through the novel. It was reminiscent of the spirit of the forest in Max Porter's "Lanny" and gave the reader a beautiful respite of nature amid all the death, deception and mayhem.

I wish I could give it 6 stars!
Profile Image for Hermann.Sch..
4 reviews
May 6, 2020
Police Thriller and Crime Scene Investigation in the Lake District

“Bones in the River” is volume 2 of author Zoë Sharp’s planned Lake District trilogy. I am grateful I received an ARC – especially as I am not a native speaker of English. I apologize for any mistakes.
The main story line is about a fatal hit and run accident placed in Appleby at the time of the annual Appleby Horse Fair https://www.applebyfair.org/, the biggest annual European meeting of the Travelling community – and their horses.
But Zoë Sharp would not be herself if this was the only storyline in this extraordinary book. A second body is found, domestic violence becomes a topic as do marital infidelity, the quarrel for the leadership of a Gypsy clan and racial conflicts.
And then there are the main characters apart from CSI Grace McColl and DC Nick Weston: Queenie, the young Gypsy mother with a heart rendering teenage past and a tell-tale name that best describes her role in her clan, Dr Onatade, the more than competent Nigerian female pathologist, and the often underestimated CSI Ty Frost.
Of course there are also some villains, most of them real losers, one might feel sympathetic for, but also the reals criminals: inhumane, egotistical bastards in high positions ready to do anything to save their stupid arses…
You should not miss this book – especially if you love horses as Zoë Sharp and I do...
4 reviews
June 15, 2020

I've recently 'discovered' the crime genre and been lucky enough to find some brilliant authors. To be honest this book was mentioned in my local village newsletter as the author lives locally. Thought I'd give it a go (supporting local artists is important to me) Well, I've just read the book cover to cover in about 2 days! I'm blown away by the story line. Clever, with lots of twists and turns. There's lots of research been done here and the author has nailed the essence of the fair and the Romany way of living without going overboard (I dislike feeling like an author is trying to impress me with all their knowledge whilst I'm deeply emerged in a storyline - ruins my flow!) I warmed to her characters immediately.. and disliked the ones I was meant to dislike! I'm fully aware I've read this book the wrong way around - 'should' have read them in series order. But in no way did I feel like I'd missed out. It works well as a standalone read too. Though now I have discovered Zoe Sharp I shall be reading whatever I can get my hands on from her! A great read. Great characters, fast paced and a different enjoyable storyline. P.S... I've definitely not got anything from reviewing this book despite the tenuous connection. I just found it a flipping good read.
Profile Image for A.J..
343 reviews4 followers
May 7, 2020
I love the Charlie Fox series by Zoe Sharp, and didn't think this novel could be as good as those, but now that I have read Bones in the River, I actually like it even better! This is a compelling mystery-thriller, a British police procedural, and a rapidly accelerating "quick read" that drew me in from the first page and was very hard to put down.

The book starts with a tragic accident, compounded by deception as the possibly intoxicated driver (who thinks he has "too much to lose" if he reports the accident) first tries to cover it up and then tries to blame someone else for what he did. As the investigation progresses, another much older crime is uncovered, and the two investigations become interwoven until all is finally revealed. There are many plot twists and a very satisfying ending.

Zoe Sharp is a master storyteller, and anything she writes is worth your time. This novel also offers a fascinating look at Romany culture, as well as details of horsemanship that "ring true" to this life-long "horse addict" who has owned multiple horses for 50+ years. Anyone who likes mysteries or thrillers should enjoy this book. Highly recommended!
May 10, 2020
Bones in the River is a sequel to Dancing on the Grave by Zoe Sharp. We meet CSI Grace McColl and DI Nick Weston again, this time trying to solve the disappearance of a young boy which turns into not one, but two murders. Set in Cumbria, the author introduces us to Romani characters and culture, while allowing us to feel like we are right there in this scenic part of Britain. As always, Zoe Sharp has crafted an elegantly written story, revealing her characters bit by bit, as we come to like (or dislike) them more and more. The characters are believable and relatable, the emotions and motives realistic. The story evolves at a slower pace than with her Charlie Fox series, but never feels sluggish. While I still count Charlie Fox as my favorite literary female protagonist, Grace McColl is an endearing, smart and fascinating lead character as well and I look forward to the projected third novel in this trilogy. Grab this one as soon as it comes out--and if you haven't read Dancing on the Grave, grab that one too. You will be rewarded with hours of reading pleasure.

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Zoe Sharp!
Profile Image for Anne.
553 reviews
May 24, 2020
For hundreds of years, Gypsies and Travellers from all across Europe come together in early June to sell horses and craft goods at the Appleby Horse Fair in England’s Lake District. This year, two bodies turn up by the River Eden in the midst of the Fair, and the Cumbria Constabulary has to sort out whether the deaths are accidental – or murder. DC Nick Weston reunites with CSI Grace McColl in this second installment of Zoe Sharp’s Lakes Crime Thriller trilogy following Dancing on the Grave (2018). Add to the mix Gypsy politics, drug gangs, illegal fighting rings, sellers of fake or stolen goods, and the local police have a nightmare on their hands. Nefarious doings and fascinating CSI details enrich the story, especially the attempts by a resentful colleague to discredit Grace McColl’s findings. I received an advance reader copy of this book for review and rate it 4.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed Bones in the River and highly recommend it for all mystery lovers with an interest in crime scene investigations.
May 7, 2020
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Zoe Sharp’s Bones in the River for preview. I understood that in consideration for this generous offer, I was supposed to be on the lookout for any errata or inconsistencies in the text. Unfortunately, the story totally captivated me so that I was unable to perform this duty in as exacting manner as I should.
In addition to characters who are so real you almost feel as though you would recognize them if you saw them when you were out, and a compelling story, the setting and culture of this book were winners. I felt as though I were actually involved in the stresses and conflicts of the locals and the Travelers, and the dynamics when these two groups collided. I also felt as though I were there, at the river, the town, and the Traveler encampment.
I am looking forward to continuing the story of these characters in this place. Thank you Zoe, for another winner!
May 27, 2020
You won't be disappointed...especially if you are already familiar with Zoe's writing. Like her (Charlie Fox) series this is well researched well written and paced. I love that I am always picked up by Zoe's books like a twig in a current and transported at a lick through the twists and turns of the story.
I love that I learn things, like around the Appleby horse fair and the communities involved, I love that the 2 main characters Grace and Nick develop their relationship and my delight at what happens to one character in the book - well, it'd be a spoiler. Bones in the River keeps you hungry for the next chapter throughout and I couldn't wait to get back from work to pick the book up and yet was devastated when I finished it. If you like a real thriller, edge of the seat timing and strong well developed characters, all set in a familiar landscape read this...and yes, a good few female characters who are strong, spirited and believable...
Profile Image for Jay Blackburn.
5 reviews
May 22, 2020
Bones in the River– Zoe Sharp
Another brilliant novel from this sharp lady !
I was drawn in from the start. Set in my local area I was keen to see what Zoe had done with it. Set too in a calendar that many very local to the scene do not understand, a Romany Fair, a horse fair, the biggest in England. It disrupts the whole area and fills it with tales of cheating, stealing, lying and many fights and disagreements. It is in this small rural area that Zoe weaves her plot, mystery and intrigue at every turn. Even amongst this secretive background we are led into romantic manoeuvring, characters are warm fleshed out and full of surprises. I couldn’t put this book down. As the last chapters pages whittled down, I was begging for another chapter!
A very wonderful read. Fascinating insight into Romany culture. What are the ‘Bones in the River’?
Profile Image for Neil Plakcy.
Author 136 books472 followers
May 23, 2020
I couldn't stop reading Bones in the River-- to the point where my Kindle battery died and I ended up finishing the book while the device was plugged in.

Bones in the River is less overtly violent than the Charlie Fox books, but Sharp's depth of character is still present. Protagonists Grace McColl and Nick Weston are firmly grounded in reality, but also capable of strong, dramatic action. The simmering romantic tension between them adds to the drama of the plot rather than detracting from it.

The plotting is clever, and though each new clue caused me to stop and reconsider, I couldn't figure it out until the end. The sections from the point of view of the river are marvelous pieces of writing, full of evocative language.

Definitely one of my favorite books so far this year-- and perhaps even my favorite of Sharp's.
Profile Image for Ruth Whittam.
3 reviews
May 22, 2020
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy in return for an honest review.
Fortunately I genuinely LOVED it, Grace McColl is a great protagonist and Zoe Sharp always approaches situations from a slightly different angle (no spoilers). It’s a fast-paced plot and I had to make a real effort to read slowly. In addition to being a great crime story it has some of the best descriptive writing I’ve ever read.... if there’s anyone in your life who’s ever a bit dismissive of crime fiction give them chapter 12 to read about an approaching storm and shut them up! I’ve read that at least ten times and shared it among friends as it’s a beautiful piece of writing.
Pacy plot, interesting approach, great characters and beautiful writing - what more could you want?
Profile Image for Marya.
20 reviews1 follower
June 2, 2020
As part of Zoe Sharp’s Advance Reader Team, I was able to receive a free ARC of this book. Bones in the River is the second novel that featured CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Watson which was introduced in the first novel of the series Dancing on the Grave.
Once again Sharp writes character’s that are strong, capable, and very determined individuals who demand to have justice no matter the cost. She spins a suspenseful tale, which have many twists and turns that lead Grace and Watson to discover through trial and error two cases that maybe connected in some way. The story is very rich in detail where I felt like I was included in the investigation, which I have always enjoyed. I would highly recommend reading this mystery novel. Can’t wait for more to come!
3 reviews1 follower
June 3, 2020
I really enjoyed this book. After Dancing On The Grave I was keen to find out where Grace would go next and I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t expecting the emotional rollercoaster but I really grew fond of some of the characters, so much so that I even shed a tear (actually I wept like a baby at the end!).

At first I was surprised to know the identity of the killer early on in the book but I found there were so many other aspects to the story and plenty of twists and turns to keep me turning the pages. By the end, I had to stay up most of the night to finish it, I just couldn’t put it down.

Now I am eagerly awaiting book number three!

I received a free Advance Reader Copy of this book for review
Profile Image for Jenni.
287 reviews
May 23, 2020
I could not put this novel down. I love the two main characters, Grace McColl and Nick Weston. There are a lot of story threads, but they all come together nicely at the end. Enjoyed the background, and the lively, colorful travelers or gypsy characters. The river is also a character in the story, and I enjoyed how its perspective was woven throughout. The tension between the travelers and the townspeople was palpable. Emotions run high when two bodies are found in the river, and Grace's boss and nemesis acts strangely. The novel is well-crafted, complex, but exciting and compelling. I stayed up all night to finish it. It is one of the best novels I've read all year.
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