#BookReview The Bone Road by N.E. Solomons

The Bone RoadAbout the Book

On the road to discovery, even the dead have secrets.

High up on a mountain road in the Balkans, former Olympic cyclist Heather Bishop races her journalist boyfriend Ryan. But when he suddenly disappears during the ride, suspicion falls on her.

Local police inspector, Simo Subotić, already has his hands full investigating two mutilated bodies that have washed up on the banks of the River Drina. Something is telling him that these two cases are connected but nothing could prepare him for what is to come.

Only together can Simo and Heather hope to uncover the truth in time. Their search not only exposes the darkness of Ryan’s past but exhumes dangerous secrets of a region still reeling from the trauma of war. Are some secrets so devastating that they should remain buried?

Format: Paperback (304 pages)       Publisher: Polygon
Publication date: 4th August 2022  Genre: Crime, Thriller

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My Review

The Bone Road is the debut thriller by bestselling author Natasha Solomons, writing here under the pen-name N.E. Solomons. All I can say is keep going with the thrillers because I thought this was fantastic.

What was brilliant about the book was the rich back stories the author creates for the two main characters – Heather Bishop and Simo Subotić – so much so that you could be forgiven thinking the book was part of an existing series.

Heather is a former Olympic cyclist whose career was ended by a dreadful accident. It has left her with both physical and psychological scars so that everyday is a struggle, ‘a performance of coping’. A further blow is the discovery that Ryan, the man who had supported her through her recovery, is not the man she thought he was.

Simo Subotić’s disregard for authority and determination to bring closure for families whose loved ones went missing during the Bosnian War regardless of the waves it makes has resulted in ‘a helter-skelter career slide’ and posting to a small border town.  His strong sense of justice, determination to find answers and, as the book progresses, willingness to take personal risks make him an immensely likeable main character.

As well as being a cracking crime thriller, I learned a lot about the turbulent history of this part of the world and how events during the war, during which the most horrific war crimes took place, reverberate to the present day. One of the standout elements of the book for me was the way the author wove the legacy of the Bosnian War and the divisions that still exist between those who regard themselves as Serbians and ethnic Bosniaks into the plot. The worldly, cynical and rather foul-mouthed Petra acts as a vehicle for educating both Heather and the reader about this. For instance, when Heather refers to the country as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Petra responds, ‘This isn’t f***ing Bosnia. It’s Republika Srpska. The Serb federation. No-one in this god-forsaken s***hole of a place is Bosniak. Not anymore.’ I confess that, like Heather, it’s a distinction I hadn’t been aware of before reading the book.  As it turns out Petra also proves herself to be an incredibly useful and resourceful ally whose own family history reflects the tragic events of the war.

There are wonderful descriptions of the mountainous landscape of Republika Srpska, with its ‘wild and ancient beauty’. But it’s a landscape still marked by war: the ruins of military outposts, uncleared minefields and buildings that conceal dark secrets. Even architectural gems, such as the Sokolović bridge in Višegrad, have a sinister history. As Simo says to Heather at one point, ‘That’s this place. Terrible and beautiful. Some of our loveliest sites hide our ugliest secrets’. And ugly they are, along with some of the people involved.

The pace increases and moves into true thriller territory in the final third of the book as Simo and Heather discover just what they are up against. Ruthless doesn’t begin to describe it. Heather’s view of herself as relentless, possessing remarkable stamina and mental tenacity, as well as being stubborn beyond reason will be tested to the limit. There are breathless, heart-pounding scenes towards the end of the book in which Simo has to go out on a limb and Heather has to summon up all her strength and experience in what is literally the race of her life.

I thought The Bone Road was brilliant. Its combination of gripping plot, fascinating setting, strong characters and chilling undertones kept me enthralled until the very last page.

My thanks to Kathryn at Polygon for my proof copy.

In three words: Compelling, pacy, intense

Try something similar: The Good Father by S.R. Wilsher

About the Author

N.E. Solomons is a screenwriter and novelist. She lives in the countryside with her husband, also a writer. She is the internationally best-selling author of six previous novels. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages. This is her first thriller.

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#BookReview The Death of Remembrance (DCI Daley 10) by Denzil Meyrick

The Death of RemembranceAbout the Book

It’s 1983, and a beat constable walks away from a bar where he knows a crime is about to be committed. In the present, an old fisherman is found dead by the shoreline and a stranger with a mission moves into a shabby Kinloch flat.

Meanwhile, DCI Jim Daley is trying to help Brian Scott stay sober, and the good people of Kinloch are still mourning the death of one of their own. As past and present collide, Daley finds himself face to face with old friends and foes. Memories can only last as long as those who keep them, and ghosts will not be silenced.

Format: Paperback (400 pages)   Publisher: Polygon
Publication date: 2nd June 2022 Genre: Crime, Thriller

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My Review

The publication of The Death of Remembrance marks a triple celebration: ten years since DCI Daley made his first appearance (in Whisky from Small Glasses), reaching the milestone of one million copies of the series sold worldwide, and the news that DCI Daley will be coming to the TV screen in a drama series starring Game of Thrones actor, Rory McCann.

The Death of Remembrance is the tenth in the DCI Daley series and although I haven’t read any of the previous books, it turned out to be a perfect introduction to DCI Daley and his right-hand man, DS Brian Scott, as the book delves into their past alongside a contemporary storyline.  There are also brief references to events in previous books.

Daley and Scott have a close but occasionally turbulent relationship. They are both ‘old school’ detectives. At one point Scott remarks to Daley, ‘Face it. Me and you – we’re relics’. And both have struggled with alcohol problems. Scott still is struggling, much to the exasperation of his wife, Ella, and to Daley who is running out of options for saving Brian from the consequences of his actions, actions which may threaten his career. Daley’s problems are closer to home. His marriage to Liz is under strain, the demands of his job means he spends too little time with his family and his lifestyle – long hours and junk food – is taking a toll on his health.  The depth of characterisation is part of what made The Death of Remembrance such a compelling read for me. I also absolutely loved Hamish, the old fisherman whose instincts shouldn’t be ignored.

Other characters were equally memorable but definitely not in a good way. The sections of the book set in 1980s Glasgow transport the reader into a murky world of violence, intimidation, corruption and cruelty. We learn that the actions of the past cast a long shadow and a settling of scores is inevitable. As one character remarks, ‘The accounts must be reconciled, the books balanced’. There are some gripping and dramatic scenes towards the end of the book.

The partnership between Daley and Scott is in the tradition of great detective duos. I loved the moments of humour that acted as flashes of light amidst the darker aspects of the book. The humour is chiefly provided by Brian. The references to films and books that go over his head, and his frequent malapropisms made me chuckle. For example, when Daley reflects that although Brian is often trouble they have different strengths, Brian replies, ‘It’s that Jim and Jan thing’.

The Death of Remembrance has all the ingredients needed for a great crime thriller: a skilfully crafted plot, an authentic sense of place, moments of drama and compelling characters. I may be late to the party, but DCI Daley has acquired a new fan.

My thanks to Yasmine at Birlinn for my review copy.

In three words: Gripping, immersive, authentic

Try something similar: Poetic Justice by R.C. Bridgestock

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Denzil MeyrickAbout the Author

Denzil Meyrick was born in Glasgow and brought up in Campbeltown. After studying politics, he pursued a varied career including time spent as a police officer, freelance journalist and director of several companies in the leisure, engineering and marketing sectors. Denzil lives on Loch Lomond side with his wife, Fiona.

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