Hilary and Mark Bradley moved away from the bustling big city to enjoy a small town life as school teachers. That life was shattered when a female student developed an infatuation with Mark and created an imaginary but very explicit love affair with him in her journal. When the journal was discovered the teen denied the affair, but no one would believe she could conjure such ideas from anything other than the actual affair. Hilary stood by Mark; they were determined to rebuild their life. But when the teen's sister is found strangled to death after trying to seduce Mark on the beach, life for the Bradley's grows even worse.
THE BONE HOUSE is Brian Freeman's first standalone novel after five successful novels in his Jonathan Stride series. While this was my first experience reading Freeman, it most definitely will not be my last. I was encouraged to read Freeman by a regular reader here...thank you Mike!
The characters composing the cast of THE BONE HOUSE are rich, complex characters. Freeman does an outstanding job of bringing to life the loner cop, the traumatized teen, the struggling couple. A small town's reaction to scandal and its insulating responses come across realistic and conceivable. That realism in turn ignites passion for the reader who will find him/herself wanting justice for the wronged.
The dynamics between characters in this book is equally complex. Freeman subtly illustrates the intricacies of human relationships and their outward results:
"He watched the girl in front of him, and he thought about all of the messes, insecurities, fears, jealousy, pettiness, and traumas of being young. There were so many nicks and cuts that felt deep even when they were shallow and left scars you could pick at years later."The wide range of characters in this novel makes Freeman's choice of an alternating third person limited perfect for building the suspense. The reader has more knowledge than any single character, but still not all the knowledge, so an element of mystery remains. And while the setting of the novel is a small, secluded town with a slow lifestyle, the pace of the novel is a sharp contrast.
THE BONE HOUSE is billed as a stand alone, but at the conclusion I found myself hoping that one or two of the characters find their ways into future Freeman stories. I didn't want to say goodbye.
THE BONE HOUSE is available now from Minotaur Books in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-312-56283-0) and on audio from Blackstone Audio (ISBN: 978-1-441-78047-8), narrated by one of my favorite readers, Joe Barrett.