In Terry Odell’s Deadly Bones, second book in the Mapleton Mystery series. Police Chief Gordon Hepler comes across a pair of young boys looking for their lost dogs and puts out a call to locate the pets. When he gets the notice that the dogs have been located, they find a complication: One of the dogs is carrying a bone, and it is human. Making use of the county cadaver dogs, the law enforcement officials find old bones, buried at least 30 years ago on the property of Sam and Rose Kretzer. But the mayor, always anxious to cut back on the police department budget, demands that Gordon do nothing to investigate the body because Gordon has no sign of a crime’s having been committed.
To keep to the letter of the demands, Gordon and the coroner’s office call in the county deputies, giving Gordon a chance to work once again with Detective Tyler Colfax, known for his less than stellar bedside manner but excellent detective skills. Then the deputies working on the scene uncover evidence of a second body. Both had been dismembered and the hands all buried together, legs together, and so forth. Rose realizes that the land in which the bodies are buried did not yet belong to her and Sam, but it proves to be really complicated to figure out the original owner.
Soon Megan, Rose’s now-grown up ward, gets a call that Rose is being rushed to the hospital. She has pneumonia and had a bad reaction to the first medicine they try on her. But a day later Megan has to rush to the hospital again because Rose has been put in the ICU after another serious reaction. When Megan calls Gordon because she suspects foul play, he looks into the situation and concludes that someone has sneaked in to Rose’s area there and given her the original medicine to try to kill her. So Gordon arranges to move Rose to the VIP suite with a guard to protect her from future attacks. By now Rose’s doctor has also tried to rush to the scene, but someone has sabotaged his car, leading to an accident on the way to the hospital that eventually kills him.
One night five houses in random locations get bricks or rocks through their windows, leading the mayor to press Gordon to investigate the serial “break-ins” happening in their town. This is, until they get notice that there is a massive fire raging through Mapleton and its woods. Could someone have set this in order to distract from the bones or maybe even offer an opportunity to mess with the dig itself?
This riveting book kept me tied to my phone and the Audible app because I was drawn into the world of Mapleton, CO. The plot moves quickly, with fascinating details and so many possible answers to the mysteries that the police are investigating that the solution gets hidden amid the rest of the possibilities.
The character development was not as strong as in the previous book in the series, Deadly Secrets, but since I already knew the characters so well from that book, I did not find it necessary for the author to redraw the people. Thus, I still enjoyed the further knowledge of the people in the book. It was good to see the development of the relationship between Gordon and diner owner Angie.
Another touch I have enjoyed with the three books by Odell that I have read is her use of police dogs. Cozy mysteries tend to feature cats, and working dogs receive even less attention. In this book, the dog is a cadaver dog who searches for buried bodies or bones. The other two books use search dogs to track down the criminal and hostage. I really like getting to see such dogs at work.
The audio version of this book is performed by Steve Marvel, who does an excellent job of creating the voices of a diverse group of characters. It is obvious that he puts a lot of work into his narration, and I was really impressed with the way he helped me become immersed in this book.
Deadly Bones really shows a lot of creativity and cleverness in its depiction of the many threads that get sewn together in the book, though often not until the very end. It drew my attention from start to finish and made me eager for Odell to write another book in the series! I give it five stars!
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