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Valley of Bones: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, April 28, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003A02XFW
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

This top-notch novel confirms Gruber's place as a gifted writer who stretches the conventional bounds of the genre by placing the mysteries of faith and religious experience and the complexities of the human mind as well as spirit at the center of his work. It's a taut, compelling whodunit that's as far from a typical detective procedural as good is from evil and a worthy follow-up to his acclaimed debut (Tropic of Night) that also features Cuban-American cop Jimmy Paz. Here Gruber tells a mesmerizing tale of Emmylou Dideroff, who communes with saints and whose checkered past includes stints as a hooker, drug dealer, and the leader of a band of Sudanese freedom fighters. But did she kill the Arab businessman on a government "watch list" who plunged to his death from a Miami hotel? While that's the incident that brings her to Paz's attention, it's only one of his questions about this strange woman, whose unsettling "confessions" stir up the detective's confusion about his own deepest beliefs. Emmylou is as fascinating and fully realized as Jane Doe, the memorable protagonist of Gruber's first book--so too is Lorna Wise, the psychologist brought in to assess Emmylou's sanity, whose personal and professional lives are turned totally upside down by her involvement in the case and her relationship with Paz. This is a smart, riveting, wholly original and thoroughly fascinating book that's impossible to put down and leaves the reader with only one question--when is this author's next one coming out? --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Gruber's new mystery/thriller more than fulfills the promise of his dazzling Tropic of Night (2003), a critical and commercial success and his first book published under his own name. The story emerges from three directions: the POV of Cuban-American Miami cop Jimmy Paz; pages from the book Faithful Unto Death: The Story of the Nursing Sisters of the Blood of Christ by Sr. Benedicta Cooley; and a series of handwritten notebooks, The Confessions of Emmylou Dideroff. Gruber brings back Paz ("a neatly built, caramel-colored man, in a beautifully cut gray-green silk and linen suit" and one of the smartest, coolest, most intriguing cops working the pages of American thrillers these days) from Tropic to investigate the death of Arab oil trader Jabir Akran al-Muwalid, who's been bonked on the head with a piston rod and thrown off the balcony of his hotel room. Inside al-Muwalid's room, Paz finds Emmylou Dideroff kneeling on the floor, having a one-sided conversation with St. Catherine of Siena. The rod belongs to Emmylou, so she's assumed to be the killer; she's put into a mental hospital under the care of Paz's new psychiatrist girlfriend. Emmylou's written confessions tell the horrifying but riveting tale of growing up with an insane mother and a stepfather who molested her, as well as her adventures as a whore, drug dealer and, after joining the Nursing Sisters of the Blood of Christ, a tribal leader in Africa. Readers will find each of the stories—Paz's, Emmylou's and that of the founder of the Nursing Sisters—equally fascinating. Evocative prose, an erudite author, spellbinding subject matter and totally original characters add up to make this one a knockout.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I was born and raised in New York City, and educated in its public schools. I went to Columbia, earning a BA in English literature.. After college I did editorial work at various small magazines in New York, and then went back to school at City College and got the equivalent of a second BA, in biology. After that I went to the University of Miami and got a masters in marine biology. In 1968-69 I was in the U. S. Army as a medic.

In 1973, I received my Ph.D. in marine sciences, for a study of octopus behavior. Then I was a chef at several Miami restaurants. Then I was a hippie traveling around in a bus and working as a roadie for various rock groups. Then I worked for the county manager of Metropolitan Dade County, as an analyst. Then I was director of planning for the county department of human resources.

I went to Washington DC in 1977, and worked in the Carter White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy. Then I worked in the Environmental Protection Agency as a policy analyst and also as the speechwriter for the Administrator. In 1986, I was promoted to the Senior Executive Service of the U.S., the highest level of the federal civil service. That same year, Robert K. Tanenbaum contacted me and asked me to write a courtroom thriller to be published under his name. I did that, and since then I have also written the first fifteen novels in the popular Butch Karp and Marlene series.

In 1988 I left Washington, D.C. and settled in Seattle, where I worked as a speechwriter and environmental expert for the state land commissioner. I have been a full-time freelance writer since 1990, mostly on the Karp novels, but also doing non-fiction magazine pieces on biology. My first novel under my own name, TROPIC OF NIGHT, was published in 2003 (William Morrow) and a second novel, VALLEY OF BONES, as well as a children's book THE WITCH'S BOY (Harper Collins) came out in 2005. A third thriller for Morrow, NIGHT OF THE JAGUAR is due out in early 2006. I am married, with three grown children and an extremely large dog.

Customer Reviews

His character is drawn well enough without it.
It wasn't nearly as rich and imaginative as the first, and its plot line and characters seemed thin in comparison, with an exception or two.
Author Michael Gruber can be credited for writing a mystery that rises to the level of an epic novel.
Kay Day

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Booked4Life on February 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I don't know how the elves in Amazon work, but a while back this book popped up on the screen as a "recommended" book for me. Those elves know what they're doing.

I started with Gruber's first book (aside from the 16 Tannenbaum novels he ghost-wrote) Tropic of Night. Loved it. Turned around and bought this one the next day. Loved it,too.

Gruber does several things that make his books great fun to read. First, he writes a good story. Second, he includes an interesting backstory, with lots of things to learn about. Finally, he provides us with some characters to care about. And all the way through, he tosses off bits of intriguing information and poetry and literature. All of these things he wraps in a believable magical realism that makes you think, "what if?"

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Michael Gruber takes the title of his second novel from the Book of Ezekiel, the verse that refers to the hand of the Lord setting one down "in the midst of the valley, which was full of bones." Not a very pleasant prospect.

In this fast paced story readers will find themselves wondering precisely what it is the Lord or demonic forces can do as they are introduced to a fictional order of nuns that increased its ranks from among orphaned and disabled young girls, and meet Emmylou Dideroff, a devout Catholic woman who claims to have communion with saints - and the devil.

While Valley Of Bones is described as a thriller, it's an enormous mistake to simply pigeon hole this exhilarating page-turner. Gruber pens, if you will, a thinking man's thriller - it delves more deeply than most and his characters are both original and unique. (Not too many thriller writers create characters who quote Thomas Merton). His plots are multi-layered. His narratives send chills down your spine while they just as easily challenge you to think.

Set in Miami, Valley of Bones opens with a young policeman, Tito Morales, witnessing a fall from a hotel balcony. A fall that results in the impalement of a wealthy oilman. Morales had come to the hotel in response to a minor disturbance call, but has witnessed a death and heard a thud that he'll "remember to his grave."

Soon on the scene is homicide detective Jimmy Paz (met in "Tropic of Night"). Paz has a reputation as a crime solver, but neither of the two were prepared for what they found in the man's hotel room - Emmylou Dideroff in a trance-like state. She doesn't take long to relate her reasons for killing the oilman and asks for several notebooks so that she can explain her action and write her confession.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kay Day on January 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mysteries catch most any reader's fancy, but this book, billed as a thriller, goes way beyond the normal boundaries set by who-dunnits and shoot-em-ups. A major plus is a single character, Emmylou Dideroff. Emmylou's character is one of the most tightly woven, intriguing personalities in contemporary American fiction.

The story begins as police officer Tito Morales witnesses a spectacular murder. Morales has answered what appeared to be a routine call asking for help over a disturbance at a hotel. Huddled in the victim's room is Emmylou, speaking in a low voice that sounds like prayer. Detective Jimmy Paz teams up with Morales and freelance psychologist Lorna Wise to solve an increasingly complex crime. Interspersed with straight narrative told in third person are Emmylou's personal story in first person and also a straightforward history of a fictional Catholic group, The Society of Nursing Sisters. These three different accounts are organized smartly by setting Emmylou's story in italics, the straight narrative in regular typeface, and the history of the Society in boldface. That graphic technique makes for an interesting method for spinning the mystery.

The story line's strongest element is Emmylou. Born to a cold, detached mother and sexually abused by a stepfather, Emmylou has done it all. She has an eidetic memory and although everyone believed her a slow reader when she was small, in truth, she was an avid and advanced reader at an early age. Emmylou loves books like a junkie loves drugs. Turning to prostitution when she flees to Miami, she complains about not being able to get a library card because she has no address. "It's hard to be a street prostitute with advanced literary tastes," she writes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Michael Gruber explores people of faith in this superb thriller. There's Emmylou Dideroff, a woman with a tragic, heroic and altogether remarkable past. A woman who believes both God and the devil live inside her. She is introduced to us sitting in the hotel room occupied up to a short time ago by a mysterious African who currently resides atop a spiked fence some ten floors below.

Jimmy Paz, an Afro-Cuban Miami detective arrests Emmylou as the prime suspect in what may be a murder. But Emmylout provides a confusing story that leads all to wonder if she is insane. Thus, Lorna Wise, a psychologist, is introduced as one of three mental health professionals assigned the task of determining is Emmylou is sane enough to stand trial.

Emmylou is somehow associated with the Blood of Christ Society of Nursing Sisters which leads us into the history of the order and its work in the war zones of the world.

Jimmy Paz is disturbed by Emmylou, sensing a dark evil lurking within her. Just so happens that Jimmy Paz is also troubled by his involvement in a recent murder case involving voodoo. Jimmy's mom knows that Jimmy is trouble: she happens to be a voodoo priestess.

Lorna Wise wants to penetrate Emmylou's mind and she too feels the evil. Lorna has a few problems of her own. Hypochondria for one.

Add in a few possible gangsters, arms merchants, secret agents and you have the makings of a great story and author Michael Gruber puts it all together superbly well.

This is mystery and suspense told well. The plot never slips. The characters are absorbing and real. There's simply not a false note in the book. Gruber is a superb writer, an exceptionally talented storyteller.
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