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Bone by Bone Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 30, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of O'Connell's atmospheric if overplotted stand-alone, former army CID warrant officer Oren Hobbs travels back to the small town of Coventry, Calif., where bones have begun to appear on the family property. Oren's father, a retired judge, is convinced they belong to Josh, Oren's 15-year-old brother, who vanished in the woods when Oren was 17. The town abounds in rumors as well as suspects, from a disfigured and reclusive ex-LAPD officer to a once beautiful hotel owner who may have had an affair with teenage Oren. When a grave is discovered in the woods, Oren is surprised that the broken bones belong not only to Josh but to an unknown woman. Determined to solve his brother's murder, Oren must face his own past and the real possibility that the killer might strike again. O'Connell's characters are complex as always, but she often suffocates them under unnecessary red herrings. Nevertheless, fans of her Kathleen Mallory series (Find Me, etc.) as well as new readers will be satisfied. Author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Twenty years after the disappearance of his younger brother, Josh, Oren Hobbs quits his career as an Army CID investigator and comes home because he believes his father is dying. Instead, he finds that someone has been leaving human bones on the porch of his father's house and that his father is ready to bury both Josh and the past without further investigation. When the local sheriff is both obtuse and obstructive about the case, Oren reluctantly gets drawn into investigating what happened all those years ago. In the process, he stirs up memories for several troubled townspeople of this seemingly idyllic enclave. Oren must also face his own past and present crimes. Intriguing, complex characters and long-buried secrets help build suspense and a sense of dread in this new stand-alone by the author of the gripping Mallory series (Find Me). Although O'Connell explores new characters and crimes here, her focus remains tight on the damage that humans can do to each other. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 9/1/08.]—Devon Thomas, DevIndexing, Chelsea, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155147
  • ASIN: B0028N72OE
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,217,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Bell VINE VOICE on November 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In Bone By Bone, Carol O' Connell blends the eccentricities of a small town with a murder mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end. Beautifully written, it's the story of a man named Oren, who returns to his home town in California after working in the Army's CID (Criminal Investigations), after his father's housekeeper, the omniscient Hannah, sends him a cryptic letter. But he returns to find a horrible scenario is playing out at his father's home- someone is leaving the bones of his younger brother, Josh, on the front porch. One bone at a time. The cast of characters in this novel is reminiscent of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," with a large, richly drawn out cast of eccentrics. The only character I wish we'd had more information on is Oren himself.

The small town is full of secrets, and people who keep them for various reasons. In a town where everyone knows everyone else's business, this is a crime that has gone unsolved for twenty years. But why? Is it really a difficult mystery, or has an entire town covered up the murder of a young man?

Even when you're sure you know who the guilty party is, you're likely to be wrong. This was a beautifully written mystery, more of a high brow who dunnit, and I'm looking forward to her next book!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An interesting concept, to be sure. Oren and Joshua Hobbs went into the woods one day, and only Oren, the older brother, came out. The younger brother disappeared. After years at school and later working for the CID in the army, Oren returns home - called back after his father's housekeeper writes to him. He then learns that the bones of his brother are being left on his father's front porch, bone by bone.

Most thrillers keep the reader digging and guessing for a suspect. What sets this novel apart is that the author instead inundates the reader with suspects, every one of them with plausible motive to have killed the boy. Josh was a brilliant photographer who followed people, capturing their secrets on film...and how many people would kill to hide their secrets?

You then wonder how you would handle it - could you investigate the murder of your younger brother, and to what lengths would you go to solve it? How much emotional pain could you inflict on yourself and those around you to bring the truth to light and a murderer to justice?

It is an excellent novel, and Carol O'Connell weaves an intricate tale. My only criticism is how quickly she switches between characters is a little over-used. While later in the book, once you are familiar with the characters, it's a great plot vehicle, at the beginning it just makes things downright confusing.

That minor point aside, I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Just what was needed after the holidays: a fun mystery with plenty of characters, a new setting, an old crime coming back to life.
Not that there is anything fun about the murder of a 15 year old boy. Because the crime is 20 years old, the other characters are living with old pain, not the fresh "can I go on living" variety. They've had plenty of time to ponder the possibilities without the luxury of being able to put it behind them, since the victim disappeared; his skeleton only now being delivered to his family, one bone at a time.
Our protaganist, Oren, has had the pain of the loss of his brother to live with for more than half his life. It has colored every decision he's ever made. His return to his hometown is not easy. But he's a pretty likeable guy for the reader, and easy to get behind from the beginning of the story.
O'Connell introduces us to a large cast of characters--townspeople of a small town that all know more about each other than they should. Which of them could have wanted to get rid of this funny, quirky 15 year old?
You'll keep turning the pages looking for answers. In spite of the sheer numbers of possible guilty parties, its easy to keep them sorted. And O'Connell throws in assorted juicy tidbits along the way, with plenty of red herrings to throw you off the trail. Some of her prose is laugh-out-loud funny. There is one scene towards the end that brought out a little eye-rolling, but overall, this is a very enjoyable read.
Great literature? Of course not. But this book definitely meets its goal of engaging the reader and entertaining until the end. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though lacking the tautness of her other standalone psychological thrillers (e.g., the phenomenal Judas Child), Bone by Bone once again demonstrates Carol O'Connell's deft touch with character and plot. Complex and occasionally confusing, the book wraps the story of a former Army CID investigator, the guilt-wracked Oren Hobbs, around the unsolved mystery of his younger brother's disappearance 20 years earlier. Spurred by the appearance of human bones on the doorstep of his old homestead, Hobbs reluctantly probes into the psyches of a gothic cast of townspeople dark and fascinating enough to satisfy readers hooked on O'Connell's Mallory series, and uncovers some painful truths about himself, his father, and his missing brother that threaten to bring the killer out of retirement.

While not her best work to date, Bone by Bone will captivate any reader looking for three-dimensional characters and a masterful sense of pacing rather than the formulaic, one-dimensional caricatures of suspense that try to pass themselves off as "thrillers" these days. The biggest mystery here is why O'Connell languishes among the ranks of the relative unknowns while lesser talents make the best-seller lists with recycled comic books.
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