Barbi's Reviews > The Bone House

The Bone House by Brian Freeman
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Jan 28, 2012

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I'm a big fan of Brian Freeman's novels featuring Lieutenant Jonathan Stride (and Serena Dial). I enjoy Brian's writing style and appreciate that he works hard to give his readers imaginative plots, terrific pacing, and pitch-perfect dialogue. I was hoping that "The Bone House," Brian's new stand-alone novel, would match the brilliance of his Jonathan Stride series. Unfortunately, this book misses the mark somewhat.

Feeling no immediate connection with the cast of characters (or the plot for that matter), I found it was difficult to sink into "The Bone House." The protagonists, Hilary and Mark Bradley, were particularly (and peculiarly) unsympathetic. By the end of the book, I liked them only marginally better than I did in the beginning. Unlike intense, charismatic, driven Lieutenant Stride, Florida Detective Cab Bolton was interesting, but one-dimensional. Brian painted Cab without nuance. The broad strokes used to describe Cab (son of a famous actress, FBI agent betrayed by his lover, Hollywood good looks) only gave us a small glimpse of what is potentially a good character. I do hope that if Cab returns, Brian will introduce him to us more fully. The residents of Door County, Wisconsin were depicted as small-minded, small town hicks - although I haven't met anyone from Door County, that seems a bit harsh. (Maybe Brian knows something that I don't.) The assorted teenagers were too precocious for my taste, and no one in the book seems to have a lick of commonsense.

But, knowing that Brian can be relied upon to tell a good story, I kept reading. The characters never developed to an extent that I truly cared about them. Although I enjoyed the many twists, turns and red herrings of the novel, I was always fully aware that I was being led by the author. Rather than feeling that wonderful (and satisfying) jolt when the identity of the bad guy is finally revealed, instead I felt manipulated by the final implausible turn.

My impression was that the objective of this book was to convince readers just how great strong women are (specifically Hilary and, to an extent, Lala). At this point in history, I am shocked that anyone still needs to be convinced of this self-evident truth. In fact, all that protesting on behalf of strong women was slightly insulting. (But that might just be the strong woman inside me talking.)

In my opinion, the author's Jonathan Stride series gets a well-deserved A+ rating. I'm afraid I can't give "The Bone House" more than a B- rating. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, but it could have been so much better.
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