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Dry Bones
Jennie Redhead – Book II
Sally Spencer

Severn House
31 October 2017/ ISBN 9780727887542

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Oxford PI Jennie Redhead is approached by her old friend Charlie to find out more about two skeletons that have recently been found. The bones were stuffed into a sealed mediaeval ventilation shaft in cellars under St. Luke’s College and her task is to discover their identity. Soon she is delving into two old mysteries set thirty years apart, and looking askance at Charlie who seems to have been involved with at least one of them…

This book follows on from the first in the series, A Shivering Turn (also reviewed on this site). In common with this book, Ms. Spencer has a great storyteller style that grips the reader from the first paragraph and does not let go. She has written a real whodunit filled with 100% detecting as Jennie races about discovering more about the victims and looking for possible killers. Plotting is this author’s talent and she has it in spades, characterization less so, as many of the characters have more than a hint of the cliché about them. With a tale this exciting, I found myself not caring much however, particularly as they served to make various points about the power of wealth and privilege in a place like Oxford, and how things were done in the past. The flashbacks to earlier periods seemed to have more of a feeling for the times than the decade when the book was set. It is 1974, but apart from an absence of modern technology, it is not obvious when the book is set. Jennie is a thoroughly modern young woman whose one-night stands and habit of walking into pubs on her own make her appear more 2010s than 1970s. No references are made to popular culture or news stories of the day and thus the setting seems curiously timeless and detached. Like the first in this series, this is a dark tale but one well worth reading for its thrilling story, chilling look at use and abuse of power and how far people will go to obtain justice.

Reviews of other titles in this series

A Shivering Turn #1
Dry Bones #2

Reviewed 2017