The Bones of Summer (Maloney) (Volume 2) Paperback – October 21, 2015
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The Bones of Summer is a hard book to describe. Before I even try to do so, my preface to the review: I strongly recommend reading Maloney's Law before The Bones of Summer. While it isn't absolutely necessary, Maloney's Law gives the setup for The Bones of Summer, gives a detailed portrayal of Paul (who is the main character in that one), and is just a really good book.
That said, The Bones of Summer stands on its own as a romance and more so as a mystery. Craig is a conflicted character. He had a difficult childhood with a fundamentalist father. After leaving home, he changed his name and tried to forget his past. Unfortunately, the secrets of his past won't stay hidden, even though he's forced many of them from his own mind. Paul is also conflicted. He's had a great deal of sorrow and betrayal in his past. His job as a private investigator makes him the perfect person to help Craig look into his past, but their budding romance complicates things. Secondary characters, including Craig's roommates, his father, and a former neighbor, are well-drawn. The mystery is sufficiently twisty and interesting, especially since a great deal of it is in Craig's mind. The Bones of Summer isn't perfect by any means. The villain is a bit over-the-top, and parts near the end are pretty horrifying (sensitive readers beware). The ending is hopeful, but not as sweet as my romantic side wanted. I also would have preferred some from Paul's point of view as well, although I know why Anne Brooke chose to write in one point of view. Despite those cautions, The Bones of Summer drew me in and kept me clicking the page turn button on my ereader throughout. Little touches of humor and bittersweet emotion, likeable characters, and an interesting mystery make The Bones of Summer well worth a read.
Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
"The Bones of Summer" is Craig's story, at the point where his life and Paul's intersects once more. Seeking no more than a trouble-free, pleasant sexual interlude with a man who kisses amazingly well, his reunion with Paul coincides with a family friend alerting him to his father having gone missing. But in looking for his parent, Craig discovers the mysteries about his past are far murkier, and far more dangerous than he could have imagined.
Ostensibly Craig's story, this novel is also as much about Paul Maloney. Paul's moved on a little past the sorrow and grief, but he's still very damaged and raw. The irony is that despite that, he's not anything like as damaged as Craig, and he has to be the mature adviser as Craig struggles to untangle his history and confront some very distressing memories.
So if you read this without reading Maloney's Law, you'll enjoy it, but not as much as someone who knows who Paul Maloney is. I'm not convinced that Ms Brooke has made Paul's inner anguish entirely clear without a reading of the first novel, just as Paul is given to making statements about Craig for which we are given very little supporting evidence - or shown Paul's train of thought. That's probably my biggest gripe with the novel, and over all, it's not a big issue.
The story's told in third person past tense, which worked slightly better for me than the first person present of the first novel. Brooke's writing is clean and easy to read, and the plot straightforward, albeit with a slightly predictable ending. It reads very much like a double episode of a superior BBC crime programme, with similar dark themes and somewhat overblown story, but is highly enjoyable for all that. Craig isn't as fascinating to me as Paul, but that's because I fell for Paul first, I suspect. In his own right, he's a well-drawn character with a credibly horrific past of abuse and a first love gone terribly wrong. The relationship between the two young men, both so scarred and battered, is also believable, and far from easy.
As a sequel, I heartily recommend this, though it's not a light read, or a particularly cheerful one - anyone looking for a romantic Happily Ever After will have to settle for something much less certain, though still very welcome. Ms Brooke stares unflinchingly at the dark underbelly of every day existence, and makes it uncomfortably real.
Top international reviews
I read it straight after finishing Maloney's Law and was surprised (and not pleasantly) that it was told in Craig's PoV. It took me a chapter or two to get used to that.
I enjoyed the intrigue and the 'who dunnit' aspect (although it doesn't hold a candle to the mystery of the first book and it was very obvious from early on who did what) but found the relationship between Paul and Craig irritating.
I got frustrated with Craig and Paul and their inability, or unwillingness to talk to each other. One of them would demand the truth from the other, but refused to give the whole truth himself. This happened over and over again. They constantly lie, and lie by omission, to each other.
However, I liked how their arguments were portrayed. They deliberately hurt each other, saying the one thing they know will hit the spot. This is something we all do but it's rarely depicted this well in books.
I still liked Paul in this book, in fact I think I liked him more than I did in the first book, Maloney's Law. He's just as complex and mysterious but we see a softer, gentler side to him here, however I missed being party to his methodical approach to life. I really liked Craig, he's cute and awkward and sweet and humerus.
It's dark and gritty, sad and disturbing but very, very well written.
The ending was slightly disappointing. I would have preferred a solid resolution rather than a promise of things to come.
While trying to nurture their budding relationship, Paul and Craig are caught in a web of suspicion and violence which includes a member of a fundamentalist Christian sect who takes things to extremes. I found this story compelling reading as more and more of Craig's past is revealed both to the reader and to Paul. Anyone who has read this author's previous book - 'Maloney's Law' - will see Paul in a new light in this book.
The writing is crisp and the dialogue realistic and I found the way the relationship between Craig and Paul develops intriguing. The way Craig's memory of the past is dismantled bit by bit is excellent showing that what we remember is not necessarily what really happened but just the stories we tell ourselves about what happened. I also liked Craig's two housemates who are very supportive of him. I loved the ending and it absolutely fitted the story. Are we going to see more of Paul and Craig? If so I shall definitely be buying the book.