#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 Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne

TheBoyWhoSawAbout the Book

Who is Solomon Creed? A dangerous psychiatric patient, who has escaped from a high-security facility in America, or an innocent amnesiac trying to establish his true identity?

His search for the truth about himself takes Solomon to the beautiful southern French town of Cordes. But his arrival coincides with the brutal murder of an elderly French tailor, the words ‘Finishing what was begun’ daubed in blood on the walls.

Instinctively, Solomon knows he must help the tailor’s granddaughter and great grandson escape, and together they go on the run. Their flight, though, will set in motion a terrible sequence of events, leading to the exposure of a far-reaching conspiracy with its origins in the Holocaust but with terrible consequences for modern-day Europe. And what will it mean for Solomon himself?

Format: Hardback (544 pages)     Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: 15th June 2017 Genre: Thriller

Find The Boy Who Saw (Solomon Creed #2) on Goodreads

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My Review

As if the 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge weren’t difficult enough, I decided to make it even harder for myself by constructing my list from the twenty oldest unread paperbacks on my bookshelves. And vowing to read them in date order. Yes, I know. I also decided to adopt a ruthless approach: if a book isn’t working for me, I’ll set it aside, put it in the pile for the charity shop and pick up the next one. The Boy Who Saw is the second book from my list and at no point did I think about setting it aside.

I absolutely loved the author’s Sanctus trilogy (comprising Sanctus, The Key and The Tower) and felt the same about the book that first introduced the enigmatic Solomon Creed to the world, The Searcher, when I read it back in 2016. Since I described The Searcher as ‘a cracking thriller’, I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to read this follow-up apart from the fact it’s quite a chunky read.  However, the number of pages are quickly forgotten because of the pace with which the story unfolds, the complex and intriguing plot and the author’s trademark teasing chapter endings.

The plot moves between the present day and the period of the Second World War. The events of the latter are revealed bit by bit through excerpts from two memoirs. They describe the horrific treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis and by one individual in particular, described as the Devil in human form for whom ‘Death was his to command’.  It would be nice to think that some of the events described came purely from the author’s imagination but I fear not.

Although the origins of the murders may stretch back decades, events in the present day encompass plenty of contemporary themes: far right extremism, anti-immigrant prejudice and political corruption. And it wouldn’t be a top-notch thriller without a race against time, a breathless pursuit, some full-on action, characters who aren’t what they profess to be and some really bad guys equipped with the latest technology. As the officer in charge of the murder investigation, Commandant Benoît Armand, ruefully observes, ‘Law enforcement in its current state was like a Band Aid on an arterial wound’. However, the arrival on the scene of Solomon Creed with his unique abilities tips the scales back in favour of the good guys – and then some.

I’m not even going to attempt to summarise the twists and turns of the plot, so you’ll just have to trust me that it will keep you guessing right to the end and probably, like me, frantically turning the pages.  I’m not afraid to confess I suspected just about every character of being involved in the killings and was wrong every time.

The author continues to tease the reader with the truth about Solomon Creed’s identity right up to the end of the book, leaving it perfectly set up for a third book – at least I hope so.

In three words: Gripping, suspenseful, assured

Try something similarI Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes


Simon ToyneAbout the Author

Simon Toyne is the international bestselling author of Dark Objects, the Sanctus trilogy and the Solomon Creed series. He wrote Sanctus after quitting his job as a TV executive and it became the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011 in the UK. His books have been translated into 29 languages and published in over 50 countries.

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