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OLD BONES
by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Severn House, February 2017
256 pages
$29.99
ISBN: 0727886657


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After savouring the long-overdue retirement of a particularly repellant colleague, DCI Bill Slider has a new case dropped in his lap. A contractor digging the foundations for a garden shed has unearthed human remains: an entire skeleton, preserved in a stratum of what was turning into peat.

In a curious way Slider welcomes the diversion. He's recently been involved with a case involving child prostitutes, and it had implicated some important people, including his very own Assistant Commissioner. When the press got hold of the details they had a field day, and Slider has taken some heat for revealing that One of Their Own is involved. Weeks on, the press has relegated the matter to the back pages, but the case is taken out of his hands, an independent enquiry team commandeering Slider's notes. He suspects a cover-up is in the making. When a key witness recants her previous testimony Slider ignores the fact that he's no longer on the case, and pursues the matter informally.

The body in the garden, then, is the brass's way of diverting Slider from the child prostitution ring. When Slider and his team arrive at the scene the forensic pathologist informs him that the victim was a female just entering her teens. He adds that the remains are around twenty years old, allowing another five years either way for error. A relief to the present occupants of the house, as they'd only lived there the past eight years. A check with the estate agency that handled the sale of the property reveals that the former owners—a Mr and Mrs Knight—have since moved to Australia. A routine check of missing persons from twenty year back reveals an unsolved case involving a girl who went missing in August of 1990. She had been the daughter of Ronald and Margaret Knight. Not a welcome development in a force gutted by budget cuts.

At this point readers might be forgiven for thinking the solution is obvious. They'd be wrong. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is adept at cleverly leading her readers astray, and she's had over eighty books, including eighteen previous Bill Slider novels, in which to polish her craft. The result is yet another fine tale, populated by believable characters and involving a layered, ingenious plot that will satisfy her many fans. Her best work to date—and that's saying a very great deal!

§Since 2005 Jim Napier's reviews and interviews have appeared in several Canadian newspapers and on various crime fiction and literary websites, including his own award-winning site, Deadly Diversions. His own crime novel, Legacy, is scheduled to appear in the Spring of 2017. He can be reached at jnapier@deadlydiversions.com

Reviewed by Jim Napier, March 2017

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