The Bone Seeker by M.J. McGrath

I used to shy away from reading a book in a series when I hadn’t read the previous releases, but I’ve found that sometimes with a series an author is finding her footing in the first or second book and by the third or fourth things really take off.

That’s how I felt about Louise Penny’s excellent Chief Inspector Gamache series,  which keeps getting better and better, but was initially hard for me to get into. On the other hand, a series like Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta seems to have started out strong and then floundered (yet I still faithfully read it).

But as a general rule, I think if a series makes it beyond two or three entries it is usually a good bet to try, so when the publicist asked if I was interested in reading The Bone Seeker, the third entry in the Edie Kiglatuk series, I said yes because I was intrigued by the Arctic setting.

From the publisher:

Summer in the High Arctic. When young Inuit Martha Salliaq goes missing from her settlement, her teacher, ex Polar Bear Hunter Edie Kiglatuk enlists her police friend Derek Palliser to help search for the girl. But once a body is discovered floating in a polluted lake on the site of a decommissioned Radar Station, Edie’s worst fears are realized.
As the investigation into Martha’s murder begins, the Inuit community – and Martha’s devastated family – are convinced the culprits lie within the encampment of soldiers stationed nearby. Before long Sergeant Palliser finds evidence linking two of the men with the dead girl. But Edie and local lawyer Sonia Gutierrez remain unconvinced. Why are the military quite so willing to cooperate with the investigation? What has Edie’s boyfriend Chip Muloon, a simple academic researcher, got to hide? And why has the lake where Martha’s body was found been suddenly cordoned off?
A gripping, atmospheric thriller set in the Arctic’s long white nights, in The Bone Seeker the very personal murder of a young girl will explode a decades-long tale of the very darkest betrayal.

As a fan of Dana Stabenow, this seemed like it would be right up my alley and I was right. The Bone Seeker is an engaging and surprising story about a part of the world most people don’t get to visit and even fewer understand.

The cover is a stunner, isn’t it? The contrasting colors and design are just breath-taking in real life. (I know that sounds overly dramatic, but when I opened the package I actually said “wow” and stood there admiring the cover for a bit.) The dust jacket has that slightly grippy feel to it that Louise Penny’s recent dust jackets also have. I know there’s a name for it, but I forget. And, by they way, the title is not what you think, but it is brilliant.

The girl mentioned above is murdered in a horrific manner, but there’s no detailed description of the murder or the postmortem. And there’s also not a lot of gore or gratuitous violence throughout the story, which I appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when the protagonist of a mystery goes through physical and emotional challenges and gets pushed around and worked over. That does happen in this story, but it was refreshing to read a mystery without excessive brutality or detailed descriptions of pain and psychological torture.

The setting was also unique (to me anyway). The isolated landscape with its harsh conditions shapes both the action of the story and the characters.

“She [Edie] knew it was the orderly types who often found the Arctic the hardest to adjust to because they were often the ones for whom the feelings of fear was the hardest to bear. It was impossible to be in the Arctic without the daily experiences of fear. Inuit like Edit took it for granted. Fear was the shade that could block out the sun but it was also the canopy under which you could shelter. You lived in its presence because you couldn’t survive without it. Flight, fight. Fear.”

This is a well written story and I wouldn’t call the action fast-paced, but it never dragged for me. I actually had a few moments where I forgot I was reading and was just wrapped up in the story. There was only one moment when I was confused and thought there was a typo regarding a pronoun and that was because there’s a boy named Willa. I’ve come across women named Edie before, but a boy named Willa? Perhaps it’s just because I’m a Willa Cather fan that I got hung-up.

I did have a glimmer of knowing who the murderer was early on, but the book kept me guessing nonetheless. I highly recommend The Bone Seeker to amateur sleuth lovers and readers who like Dana Stabenow, Nevada Barr or Sue Henry for the big country setting, environmental themes, and confident outdoorsy woman sleuth.

Chronological order of the Edie Kiglatuk Mystery Series:

  1. White Heat 2011
  2. The Boy in the Snow 2013
  3. The Bone Seeker 2014

M.J. McGrath
The Bone Seeker
Viking: July 25, 2014
Source & FTC disclaimer: review copy provided by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. Since I usually only finish books I enjoy or am stimulated by and usually only blog about books I’ve finished, most of my reviews are about books I’ve enjoyed and therefore tend to be on the positive side. Life is too short to read books one doesn’t enjoy or learn something from. And life is certainly too short to waste time blogging about such books.


What do you think? Leave a comment and let's talk!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.