Tuesday, April 3, 2012
River Bones reviewed by fran lewis
Author Mary Deal
Serial killers can stalk a victim without their knowledge. Many fall prey to these people because their victims do not follow a specific profile or age group. Sara Mason returns to the Sacramento River Delta area and moves into a house that she is warned has a history attached to it. Owners Orson and Esmerelda Talbot were the second owners of this home but he disappeared leading this to be not a great omen that she bought the house. As Sara stares at the face of her younger sister who died, Sara misses her blonde hair, her smiling face and her statuesque figure. Her sister drowned and haunted her mind. The entire area in which she lived was consumed with finding this killer but no one knows where to start. All alone, she begins to feel vulnerable as she calls someone to comfort her to feel safe. Finding her way home in the fog the next day proved frightening as someone came out of now where and scared her but with the help of some great teens she found her way. Next, she decided to join in the fun and go to the Asian Festival and sample all sorts of food and join in the musical fun. With her friend Daphine she seemed to be getting into more things and learning more about where she lives. Next the two friends decide to learn more from Esmerelda herself. Let’s not forget the scar marks found outside of her window leading the reader to believe that someone does not like that she is there, or did the killer bury someone there?
Meeting Esmerelda was definitely interesting to say the least. After leaving the Hospice Daphine and Sara take a tour of the town and she visits her gallery hoping to see some of her work.
The author describes one painting in question that Fredrik, a resident, seems fixed on having. When Sara views the painting she sees the pain in the person’s face from the lower left hand corner to the right hand corner and as the bright light transcends to the middle the person is at peace. You definitely get an eerie feeling when he is around and some of the others that live at the hospice. Added into the mix is the strange caretaker, Tripp, who keeps everything in pristine order except himself and from the description by our talented author the chills just thinking about him. So, why are people dying and what is the fascination with the dogs that Esmeralda has and soon Sara? But, we learn more about Esmerelda as Sara uncovers information about her missing daughter who never came back from Vietnam and the murders are brought to light as a news article describes the gruesome sight one ecologist found counting birds.
Imagine a skull sticking up at you and then the remains of a person found. Each murder having one thing in common: the person’s neck is broken and they are buried with the remains of an animal. So, could Ike the cat killer be the one doing this? Could it be Fredrik who is fixated with death and sits by the bedside of terminally ill patients about to die? Could it be the person peeping in her windows or is this all connected to something or someone else?
Sara never let on that she created computer games and a business that made her millions. Leaving the Delta and returning, she wanted to repay close friends for all they did for her in the past but would not hear of it. Linette and Buck Alden were her closest friends and supposedly distant cousins. Linette opened a store called the Book Nook and to pay her for all of her kindnesses Sara furnished the store with computers so more students would come there and have access to the net.
A high school reunion brought back memories from the past, old friends that both Sara and Daphine had not seen for years. Sara surprises all the guests with a copy of one of her Sci Fi computer games which made her millions after selling the copyrights. Reconnecting with an old friend should have proved as something positive but when she and Pierce have dinner together and she creates her seven juice special drink that someone drugged, it sends Sara to the hospital and Pierce in a coma. Added to the mix is when she finally awakens and realizes he is seriously ill and in a coma, they look for the dogs and find them digging up the remains of another victim of the killer right in her own backyard. The police insist that she vacate the house and she moves in with Linette and Buck. Finding another young girl’s bones that have been missing for 20 years, plus telling the police about another hand that she saw leads the investigation into full swing. Moving to the Delta really changed things not just for her but for the town too. A resident dies at the hospice and the family is investigating why? Fredrik spent the entire night with the person could he have done something? Reminding Pierce before being drugged about his near death experience is bone chilling. Imagine waking up in the morgue and everyone thinking you are dead. Finding human remains along the riverbank and then more showing up is more than unsettling for her and those living there.
As the pieces start to fit together there are many suspects that come to light: Ike the cat killer, Fredrik who is obsessed with death and Daphine who seems to be Sara’s friend but is she? Author Mary Deal created a plot so filled with surprises, twists and turns she keeps the reader guessing and hopefully not able to figure out who the killer is and who has been burying bodies with all of their possessions and the remains of an animal for more than 20 years. Making the book unique are the descriptions of the Delta area, the history behind the area and the many festivals and places that makes this area so special.
Each time Sara seems to be getting ahead and finally might be able to move back to Talbot House, someone finds a way to deter her with more remains being found, a dead cat found, holes dug up in the back of her house and Orson’s remains found when Sara decides to tear down his workshop. Someone does not want Sara to live in that house and someone does not want her around. As Sara decides to buy another house and offer it to Pierce, someone else comes into her life, but is that for the good? As Daphine and Fredrik get closer and his family comes to the Hospice what else will happen?
Relationships rekindled and then tragedy strikes and Sara has to make a decision about the new man in her life. When Huxley comes back into her life will it be for the right reasons? Why does she run when things get too close and just how close to the killer does she get? Will the police get there in time or will Sara be the next victim? Her goal to create the Orson Talbot Foundation; will it ever get done and what will the end result be for so many who have lost so much? As the body count rises and the victims are starting to be identified, just who the killer turns out to be will definitely surprise and shock for the reader and sometimes killers hide in plain sight. Just who it is and why I cannot reveal as only author Mary Deal has the answers to these questions and more and you will too when you read River Bones. Talbot House: Would you want to live there? Is Orson still haunting it or will he finally rest in peace? You decide when you open the pages of the book, read it and decide for youself: Do you want to stay? Let’s hope the author brings Sara back again because not only is she great at helping so many but solving murders: Could she be the next Jessica Fletcher or Agatha Christie?
Fran Lewis: Reviewer