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The Bone Garden: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Tess Gerritsen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $7.59
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Tess Gerritsen's The Silent Girl.

Unknown bones, untold secrets, and unsolved crimes from the distant past cast ominous shadows on the present in the dazzling new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil–human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. But whoever this nameless woman was, and whatever befell her, is knowledge lost to another time. . . .

Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, Norris Marshall, a talented but penniless student at Boston Medical College, has joined the ranks of local “resurrectionists”–those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market. Yet even this ghoulish commerce pales beside the shocking murder of a nurse found mutilated on the university hospital grounds. And when a distinguished doctor meets the same grisly fate, Norris finds that trafficking in the illicit cadaver trade has made him a prime suspect.

To prove his innocence, Norris must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer: Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress from the Boston slums who fears she may be the next victim. Joined by a sardonic, keenly intelligent young man named Oliver Wendell Holmes, Norris and Rose comb the city–from its grim cemeteries and autopsy suites to its glittering mansions and centers of Brahmin power–on the trail of a maniacal fiend who lurks where least expected . . . and who waits for his next lethal opportunity.

With unflagging suspense and pitch-perfect period detail, The Bone Garden deftly interweaves the thrilling narratives of its nineteenth- and twenty-first century protagonists, tracing the dark mystery at its heart across time and place to a finale as ingeniously conceived as it is shocking. Bold, bloody, and brilliant, this is Tess Gerritsen’s finest achievement to date.

"An old mystery is crossed with a modern story in the latest from Gerritsen (The Mephisto Club, 2006, etc.).Julia Hamill, newly divorced and still smarting, purchases an old house outside Boston. Determined to dig a garden, she instead finds the bones of a long-dead woman–the apparent victim of murder–which starts her on a journey to ferret out the story behind her death. Julia connects with Henry, a no-nonsense 89-year-old with boxes of documents that once belonged to the now-deceased previous owner of Julia’s home. The two discover a mystery dating back to the 1830s. At the heart of it is a baby named Meggie, born to the beautiful but doomed Irish chambermaid, Aurnia. Married to a man who cares nothing for her, Aurnia lays dying in a maternity ward with her sister, Rose, at her side. Rose, a spirited 17-year-old, takes Meggie to protect her from Aurnia’s husband, but soon finds herself the target of a bizarre manhunt. Someone is after the child–and Rose, as well, because she witnessed a horrifying murder. The body count piles up as Rose struggles to remain free of those who would take Meggie from her. Meanwhile, a young medical student becomes the chief suspect of the West End Reaper killings when he stumbles onto another terrible homicide. Although he fights the prospect, eventually he and Rose join forces to solve the murders and protect the baby at the heart of the mysterious deaths. Readers with delicate stomachs may find Gerritsen’s graphic descriptions of corpse dissection hard to take, but the story, which digs up a dark Boston of times long past, entices readers to keep turning pages long after their bedtimes."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this disappointing stand-alone thriller from bestseller Gerritsen (The Mephisto Club), 38-year-old divorcée Julia Hamill discovers a skeleton buried in the garden of the Boston house she's just moved into; the ring found with the remains was in fashion in the 1830s, the fractured bones suggest murder. Flashback to 1830: medical student Norris Marshall, an outcast among his wealthier classmates, meets Rose Connolly in a Boston maternity ward, where Rose's sister recently died of childbirth fever. When several gutted bodies turn up in deserted alleyways, Rose and Norris are the only ones to catch a glimpse of the killer, dubbed the West End Reaper. Norris, Rose and Norris's fellow student, Oliver Wendell Holmes, race to uncover the truth behind the slayings, which will remind many of Jack the Ripper's crimes. In the present, Julia is able to trace their progress with the help of a relative of the house's former owner. Unfortunately, neither the present nor the historical story line maintains the suspense necessary for a whodunit spanning several generations. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Medical examiner Maura Isles returns in another thriller that joins past and present. In the present, in the backyard of Julia Hamill's old Boston house, a long-buried body is unearthed. In 1830, long before the invention of the term serial killer, medical student Norris Marshall is accused of being a mass murderer. To dig himself out from under suspicion, Norris seeks help from a fellow student, one Oliver Wendell Holmes. Together they pursue the cold-hearted killer, while, in the present day, Julia Hamill tries to find out the identity of the body buried in her backyard. As her fans well know, this is not Gerritsen's first shot at combining the modern and the historical. Yet it reads as though it might be: it's clunky, with overly familiar plotting and an attempt at 1830s-era dialogue that's often painful to the ear. Incorporating real people into historical fiction is a well-worn device, and while the author succeeds in bringing Holmes vividly to life, she doesn't really do anything particularly special with him—a fictional character would have served the story just as well. This is a passable thriller—Gerritsen does generate a fair amount of suspense—but it fails to come together on any level beyond plot. Recommendable, finally, only because the author's many fans will want to read it. Pitt, David

Product Details

  • File Size: 535 KB
  • Print Length: 530 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1407033417
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (September 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000UZQH4I
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,541 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb November 19, 2007
I've read most of Gerritsen's medical thrillers, but avoided her more recent installment of books dealing with serial killers.

This book was a pleasant surprise, and in my opinion, one of Gerritsen's best. Don't let the title throw you. This isn't something from the supernatural horror genre, or a book dealing with someone who kills just for kicks.

When Julia Hamill purchases a 130-year old home, she realizes the fixer-upper is going to be an overwhelming project. Toiling in the overgrown garden, she unearths a skeleton that predates the house and which appears to be a murder victim. When a neighbor connects her to an old man with boxes of letters and newspaper clippings pertaining to the house, she finds herself mesmerized by the lives of Boston's richest - and poorest - historical inhabitants whose lives hold the key to the bones in her garden.

It was a truly enjoyable read, juxtaposing the 1830s with the present. Gerristen also draws heavily on her experience writing romance novels and gives us here equal parts thriller and love story.

The adrenaline junkies among us may feel mildly let down because the story resolves itself to a large degree before the final page and then sort of winds down gently rather than building to a furious crescendo. But unlike some reviewers, I found that to be a positive in this book, not a negative.

Frankly, of all Gerritsen's books I have read so far (and that has been about 5 or 6), this has been the most enjoyable.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Riveting idea, stumbling end September 23, 2007
The Bone Garden starts off with that common mystery beginning... an old skeleton is found buried behind the newly purchased 130 year old house. The verdict? Murder so foul.

How did it get there? What was its story?

Author Tess Gerritsen goes back to the year 1830 in Boston, when medical students often were responsible for gathering up their own cadavers for study, and hand-washing was not linked in any manner with the spreading of disease, including, tragically, by physicians.

This story involves one such medical student (Norris Marshall) moonlighting as a grave-robber, his fellow student and friend Oliver Wendell Holmes, senior, and a young woman (Rose Connolly), who is desperately trying to protect her late sister's baby girl from the fate of the paupers' orphanage. In the meantime, a killer called the West End Reaper seems to collecting victims known by the three. Is one the Reaper? What connects these three, and the bones of the young woman found a century and a half later?

As it turns out, not much.

This is a really engaging story until, well, it ends. The crescendo is there, grabbing your attention, developing characters you love or hate, and raising the mystery to a level worthy of your interest. Then... poof. I can't tell you about the "poof" without giving away the mystery. Needless to say, it was deflating. Hence, the three stars.

Gerritsen weaves the mysteries of today and yesterday with skill, developing characters I empathized with. The broad links tightened as the novel came to a close, but the final knot was too contrived and abrupt.

A novel should never be harmed by its ending, and this one was.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RIVETING..............!!!! November 1, 2007
Newly divorced Julia Hamill has struck out on her own and moved into a quaint old house. Julia is comfortable in her new home, working in her garden; that is, until she uncovers a skeleton while digging amongst the weeds in her backyard. A mysterious phone call from an old gentleman who claims to know the history of her old home soon follows; and the quest begins between Julia and her elderly friend to uncover the long history and story behind the old house.
Moving back and forth between centuries (following the people behind the home's history), it is the 1800s, and young Rose has just lost her older sister to childbed fever. Now faced with caring for baby Meggy while avoiding her sister's abusive husband, Rose finds herself homeless and despondent. But she makes her way; Rose is a survivor, and finds her niece a wetnurse to stay with, while also finding herself a place to lay her head at night. Meanwhile, Boston is besieged by a series of horrific murders, and the killer is dubbed the West End Reaper. The only two people to witness the killer are Rose and Norris--a dashing young medical student who cared for her sister during her illness. The two join together in their collective desire to see the killer caught--and in their need to protect Rose's young niece Meggy, who seems to somehow be at the center of everything.
A novel chock full of suspense and romance, in addition to being rich in detailing the history of the medical profession overall. I loved this book and found it impossible to put down.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent December 3, 2007
Tess Gerritsen is one of my favorite writers. All of her books that I had read up until the Mephisto Club were topnotch. After reading The Mephisto Club I wasn't expecting much from her newest book, but after reading The Bone Garden I'll have to say this is her best book to date. I was happy to see she used new characters in this novel. Maura Isles appears briefly in the beginning, as she introduces new characters. Tess is an excellent story teller weaving between present day and the early 1830's. This a must read!!!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Past, present, future
Very well-written. The transitions between past and present were done very well. Getting a glimpse of what it must have been like for women living in the 1800s was very... Read more
Published 17 hours ago by Cee
4.0 out of 5 stars Tess Gerritsen explores the past and present in the wonderful story....
Tess Gerritsen explores the past and present in the wonderful story. It keeps you interested and engaged through the entire book. I recommend it, for sure!
Published 18 hours ago by Kaci
5.0 out of 5 stars A mystery lover's book.
Bought this book thinking it was a Rizziolo & Isles book. It was as good as Rizziolo & Isles. I thoughly enjoyed this book. It was very well done.
Published 20 hours ago by Di
5.0 out of 5 stars Best one yet!!!
I've read a lot of Tess' books, but I enjoyed this one more than any of the previous ones. I think one of the reasons was the cross over from this century to the 19th century. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Cathie Davenport
5.0 out of 5 stars this was an extremely well written story which I sincerely enjoyed. my...
See my comments above. This was a very interesting and informative tale of the beginning of modern medicine. Thank you, Ed Stark
Published 5 days ago by Ed Stark
4.0 out of 5 stars New & Exciting Storyline!!!
I really liked the story line, but the back and forth between years got confusing at times.
Published 7 days ago by KAREN RAY
5.0 out of 5 stars Real good Novel
Loved this all the history and jumping back and forth, easy to follow and kept you thanking, different kind of novel for Tess. real good read.
Published 8 days ago by Tigerat
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 8 days ago by PATRICIA A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully different
This story is like no other murder mystery I have read. The story of Rose Connelly and her life in 1830s Boston is addicting. Great read!
Published 13 days ago by Amanda
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun historical thriller
Fun historical thriller. This is a fast-paced novel that alternates between present-day New England and Boston in the 1830s. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Lori
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More About the Author

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, "Adrift", which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess's first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), and Last To Die (August 2012.) Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as "Pulse-pounding fun" (Philadelphia Inquirer), "Scary and brilliant" (Toronto Globe and Mail), and "Polished, riveting prose" (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the "medical suspense queen".

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series "Rizzoli & Isles" starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

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