Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman
3 words: rural, realistic, introspective
Dang, guys! There’s a new guy on the block, and he’s written one heck of a debut mystery.
And he says it’s planned to be the first of four books in a series about Henry Farrell, so even better.
What’s to love: A first-person narrator who’s darn unusual—a mid-level cop (a township police officer) who’s somewhere between a sheriff and a rank-and-file cop. So his perspective is an interesting one.
And he’s an introverted young widower who feels alienated from the people around him.
So: also somewhat unusual.
And the dude plays the fiddle.
The other thing that sets him apart is that he’s very much an everyman, underdog, unheroic protagonist. Things get messy, and he makes mistakes.
So what I’m saying is: Henry Farrell is a realistic main character.
What else to love: The book is set in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania, so it has the rural feel of Craig Johnson’s and Donald Harstad’s mystery series about rural police officers. And there’s fracking, which has set neighbors against one another because of differing views on the issue. And money.
So: the plot. A decaying body is discovered on the property of an elderly recluse and then Farrell’s deputy is killed. And the investigation reveals all kinds of secrets people never would’ve guessed about the neighbors they thought they knew so well.
Also good: The details, such as the birdwatcher/photographer coroner, who stops while on a business call to admire the birds. And Farrell’s appreciation of the small pleasures; he’s pleased by their new walkie-talkies. It all makes the book feel more real.
Can’t wait for book 2.