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Cuts Through Bone: A Mystery Hardcover – May 14, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250013305
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250013309
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Rachel Vasquez, PI Clayton Guthrie’s rookie operative, is thrilled when the pair is hired to investigate a Columbia University student’s murder, mainly because it offers respite from the interminable training exercises Guthrie has been giving her. Camille Bowman was killed with her war-veteran boyfriend’s gun, and, because the crime matched the profile of an active serial killer, the NYPD suspects Greg Olsen of the entire spree. Guthrie and Vasquez, hired to establish Olsen’s innocence, agree their client seems an unlikely killer, but Guthrie knows it’s easy to be deceived. They follow the trail of the case from a subterranean vagrants’ hideout through Columbia’s Greek scene, checking out along the way Camille’s past trysts and Greg’s Afghan War tours. Publisher promotions highlight the author’s current incarceration, but this debut mystery, a PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition winner, doesn’t need a shocking authorial backstory. Hunt’s enticing investigators invite a series, and the red-herring-riddled gumshoe story explodes into a climax rivaling those of Robert Crais and Ridley Pearson. --Christine Tran


"Sometimes, a crime novel grabs you on the first page with its plot. Sometimes, it’s the writing. Rarely is it the author’s background. But in 'Cuts Through Bone'..., Alaric Hunt hits the trifecta in his debut.

Hunt, a native of Kentucky, has been serving life in prison in South Carolina for arson and murder since 1988. In 2010, he looked through a copy of Writer’s Market in the prison library and saw a listing for the Private Eye Writers of America contest. The result was his victory for best first private eye novel.

And what a novel....Hunt, absent from the outside world for a quarter century, infuses this novel with strikingly rich descriptions of his characters and settings....'Cuts Through Bone'...shimmers with intelligence as it melds the beautiful with the profane. A work of keen originality by a writer of profound power, Hunt’s debut offers moving testimony that steel bars can imprison the body but not necessarily the mind, nor the heart."—Jay Strafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Hunt's enticing investigators invite a series, and the red-herring-riddled gumshoe story explodes into a climax rivaling those of Robert Crais and Ridley Pearson."—Booklist

"Despite its modern touches, Hunt's down-and-dirty debut harkens back to Sam Spade and other classic private eyes."—Kirkus Reviews

"Debut author Alaric Hunt has a winner in Cuts Through Bone, a deeply compelling and colorfully gritty detective thriller with a truly unique pair of private detectives. Plot development is intense as Hunt ratchets up the tension to an explosive ending."—Fresh Fiction

"Get ready for one helluva ride. Cuts Through Bone is one hardboiled rip, heavy on Noo Yawk color, slam-bang action, and a breezy, slang-filled style that isn’t afraid to strut its stuff."—Mystery Scene Magazine

"The plot is great. The vast amount of secondary characters is very accomplished....The last impressively written....[Hunt] says...he does not crave fame, and fortune is largely irrelevant, but that writing is emotionally satisfying.  'When I am writing a novel, I am outside this place,' he says.  I have a feeling this impressive 'new' talent will be outside that place often in the future, putting down words that henceforth will have a place to go: a home, in a book, in a world that sometimes feels like a dream."—Curtis Dawkins, BULL

"Alaric Hunt delivers a tour de force in his debut outing, complete with a great pair of PIs and a gritty view of New York City guaranteed to astonish even those who swear they know Manhattan. Oh, did I enjoy this book!"—William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace

“Cuts Through Bone delivers a memorable detective duo on a breathless chase for a killer with a haunting motive."—Julie Kramer, national bestselling author of Shunning Sarah

"Cuts Through Bone demonstrates why PI novels are always in style, especially when they feature a detective team you won't soon forget. You can't fail to enjoy this book. It is engrossing front to back. Alaric Hunt has the magic touch."—John Lutz, New York Times bestselling author of Pulse

“A great big mystery featuring a hard little detective and his tough young sidekick. This book cuts deep and sure.”—Michael Wiley, Shamus Award-winning author of A Bad Night's Sleep

"Cuts Through Bone grabbed me on the first page, wouldn't let me go, and I was glad for the ride. Vasquez and Guthrie are the kind of characters I'll spend my day with anytime. Pick up this book; this is a series you'll want to be in on from the beginning."—S.J. Rozan, Edgar and Dilys Award-winning author of Ghost Hero

"Detective Clayton Guthrie is a middle-aged clone of Dashiell Hammett's classic detective, with the stony heart softened.  In prose crisp as Hammett's, with a pleasing lyricism, Cuts Through Bone tells a crackling-good, satisfyingly complicated tale of serial murder and revenge."—Robert Knightly, author of The Cold Room and editor of Queens Noir

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Murray VINE VOICE on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you are tired of the typical thrillers from the usual voices, read Alaric Hunt's debut novel, "Cuts Through Bone" ( Minotaur Books 2013). Aside from the fact that the story deals with detectives, murdered innocents, and the good guys are flawed, there's nothing usual about this book.

The story deals with a gritty older detective who's breaking in a raw new female partner. As luck would have it, a serial murder falls in their laps so her learning curve accelerates and we get to see the many tricks of the trade that made our seasoned PI--Guthrie--survive as long as he has. He is sharp, school-of-hard-knocks smart, which he probably got from the author himself who's serving a life sentence in South Carolina. The plot, too, is smart, and complicated. Hunt cleverly peals it away like an onion, never too fast that you miss the fun or too slow that you want to stop.

That's not what will make you read this book, as appealing as the two characters and the plot are. It's the author's voice. It's so authentic, I don't know what he's saying 10% of the time. His scene descriptions put me right there, crawling through the sewers, sweltering in the New York heat.

So what don't I like? There are a few complaints I could make about most young new writers. First, the story's choppy. Part of that is because Hunt's writing style is jumpy. Not stream of consciousness, but definitely not smooth. He tries to weave the backstory into the plot and runs into a few bumps. Second, Guthrie has an astounding number of friends who owe him favors. Every time the story hits a snag, Guthrie comes up with a friend in high places who bales them out. Is that realistic? Maybe. Not sure. Third, there are oddly-phrased sentences.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Kay VINE VOICE on June 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You don't often read on a book jacket that the author is serving a life sentence -- that made me almost as interested in the author as I was in the book.

This is a first novel and the winner of a competition for first private eye novels. In many ways this book feels like an old-time hard-boiled private eye book. But Clayton Guthrie isn't one of those barely making ends meet hard luck detectives. He is on retainer from moneyed clients and has a reputation of being a good detective. The odd thing is that he doesn't work alone, he has a new apprentice who is a young beautiful Puerto Rican woman. Young pretty apprentices is apparently a regular feature because other characters often ask about his previous one. The other odd thing is that he (or Rachel Vasquez) drives everywhere, even in Manhattan -- because few people who grow up in the city learn to drive and because it usually is faster to take the subway because of traffic.

Guthrie is hired by one of his wealthy clients to determine whether Greg Olsen killed a Columbia student who is a family member of the client. In between and as part of the investigation, Guthrie is teaching Vasquez how to be a private eye. The investigation takes them from Ivy League university campus and the clubs where privileged young people party to the realms of homeless people deep under the city, up and down the length and breadth of Manhattan and into the outer boroughs and beyond.

There are some idiosyncrasies in the writing that take a little getting used to. Most of the time Guthrie is referred to as "the little detective" or something similar. I'm thankful that Vasquez didn't get the same treatment but much of the book seems to be largely from her point of view so perhaps that is how she thought of Guthrie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Neal C. Reynolds VINE VOICE on June 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Actually I recommend this novel because it did have a promise and fulfils some of that romise. The "short detective" does have enough of the Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe characteristics to keep the reader interested. And the plot itself is rewarding. I did get tired of the author's continual referral to the main character as "the short detective", but that's a very minor criticism. Other than that, I find little to criticize. However, I didn't find it to be above the 50/50 level of novels featuring classic noir type PI's. Even telling much of it from the young female protoge's viewpoint didn't elevate it that much.

The thing is that the book just plain misses something that would lift it out of mediocre. Nor can I truly identify just what is missing. However, I did discover a clue which, for me, explains just what undefinable quality is lacking.

The author is serving life in prison. We're told no more about him, and I couldn't find out any more from Google. However, I feel that the missing ingredient here is recent experience in real life. My theory is that his excommunication from normal life as we know it is subtly and unknowingly reflected in his writing just enough to cause him to withhold a certain living and breathing essence from his writing style. And so what could be an above average modern noir just doesn't quite make it.

And I think that's too bad, because the talent and the basic good idea is there. I honestly enjoyed this enough to want more, a continuation of the two primary characters. So while I felt this first installment to be lacking I do recommend it. This might not be one of the best PI stories you've read, but it is relatively good and enjoyable enough for mystery fans to read. And hopefully there will be more.
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