Welcome to our first murderous Monday for the year! I have taken the liberty of choosing a murder mystery out of left field for today because it also allows me to knock another book off my Mount TBR Reading Challenge for 2017 and my Colour-coded Reading Challenge, both of which are hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block. Beastly Bones is the second book in the Jackaby series by William Ritter, a historical mystery series with a paranormal twist. You can see our review of the first book here – I’m surprised that it’s actually been two and a quarter years between drinks for me and this series! Anyway, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .
In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
Abigail and Jackaby are called in to consult when a lady’s cats seem to be morphing into another species entirely. When said lady is found dead within days of the visit, the pair are drawn into a mystery that may have explosive consequences.
The Usual Suspects:
Not being your typical murder mystery, there is really only one suspect in the murders here and that suspect can be described as having at least two long, piercing fangs. Or a particularly deadly set of cocktail forks.
The Hunt for the Murderer/s:
This is what annoyed me most about this book. The hunt for the murderer/s, and indeed the murders themselves, took a backseat to the matter of the “beastly bones”, an archaeological dig that quickly turns mythological. By the end of the book we are none the wiser as to who the murderer is, and the murders of this book look like they will end up being solved in the next book in the series.
Two poison bottles for the fleeting sensation of discovery before it evaporates in the face of distraction from shiny things
I was disappointed with this book. It lacked the charm and novelty of the first book in the series, and, most dispiriting of all, the most interesting parts of the book – the inexplicable murder and Jenny the ghost’s complete freakout – are completely ignored in favour of mythical beast hunting. I found the middle section of the book, which dealt with the discovery of gigantic, mystery fossils to be interminably boring and it seemed particularly odd that the author spent so much time developing the characters and backstory of the two archaeologists in the story at the expense of developing suspense or highlighting the murders connected with the archaeological dig.
The final few chapters do bring things back into line and the protagonists finally see their way to making strides on the murders and who might be behind them. This was the best part of the book for me because even though it was only a chapter or two, the suspense was suddenly back. While this offering was a big thumbs down generally from me, I am excited to see what happens in the third book because there are hints that Jackaby and Rook will be back on the trail of deadly, secretive murderers, or at least finding out more about Jenny the ghost, rather than gadding about in the dirt with bones.
The third book in the series, Ghostly Echoes, is already out.
To make up for bringing you a book I’m not overly enthusiastic about this month, next month I will have TWO murderous Mondays for you.
You can check out my progress toward my various reading challenges here.
Until next time,