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Skin and Bone - Kathryn Fox
~ A little about the author ~
This is the 3rd Novel by Kathryn Fox who is a medical practitioner and lives in Australia. She has a particular interest in Forensic Medicine and this clearly shows in her writing. Her other novels before this one are:
~ Synopsis ~
A fire has occurred and a body is found. Initially they believe the victim is female, and there is even some concern a baby or very young child might also be a victim, but then no other remains are found. This is a relief in one respect, but it also brings a new worry because it means there might be a missing child. To begin with they aren't sure if this is murder, but soon it becomes apparent that this was arson.
Detective Kate Ferrer is already beginning to feel the pressure of being back at work, having had time off after a harrowing event that took place months before. She believes she is ready to begin work again, but already the indications are she is far from fully ready. Added to her frustration and problems, she has to train a rookie (Oliver Parke).
Kate is feeling frustrated because the case is leading them nowhere fast, and this frustration turns to anger when her superiors order her and Parke to hand the case over to someone else, and they are reassigned.
The new case is given priority because the missing woman (Candice Penfold) involved is the daughter of a wealthy businessman, who has used his connections with the police commissioner to get her disappearance investigated.
Candice, they soon discover had begun a relationship with a man who was on the rebound after being rebuffed by her sister!
He also has a criminal background, and is soon the prime suspect for Candice's disappearance, but Kate begins to suspect otherwise.
Before long, Kate begins to find connections between the arson case she and Parke had been forced to hand over and nothing is now as it seemed. Added to this, Kate begins to wonder if Parke can be trusted and not only is she beginning to feel threatened at work, but her own life is now in danger, from a place she couldn't have imagined.
~ Thoughts on the book ~
I had only read the first of her novels (Malicious Intent) I was looking forward to reading this one. Kate Ferrer is a character in her first book (and I believe the second) and likeable, so I was looking forward to seeing how she developed.
I was a little surprised to find the focus of this book has shifted somewhat from the more Forensic Medicine view (as seen in Malicious Intent) to more about the detective work, and those involved and this is a departure for Fox. However, forensics were still involved in the writing and also made an impact.
Politics within various police and law enforcement departments were a feature of her earlier book though, and this did also feature here.
The story stays focussed, with more than one plot line being carried through it all. Characters are all strong, emotionally believable and human! Now that might sound as if that should happen but it doesn't automatically and has been the biggest complaint I've had against Patricia Cornwall's latest novels for example.
Some people have likened Fox to Cornwall, and while I do agree there are some similarities, and I was also say that Fox, while concentrating on the Forensic Medicine does also focus in on much more than that. This means that while you have a crime story, you don't have a full out thriller or overly complicated scenes to have to try and follow.
This means I believe she is easier to read that Cornwall, Reichs and others and because of that is a pretty good introduction to this sort of writing.
There are some weaknesses in her writing. Sometimes I felt it was a little too predictable, and a couple of times there were pretty implausible situations that I felt had been put in simply to try and up the tempo and suspense, when in fact it didn't need it - nor did it work as a result.
On the whole though, this is a good balanced book that should appeal to most readers. It certainly isn't a hugely taxing read, but then again Fox's writing is good enough to make up for this. This also makes it a good book to pick up, put down and then pick up a little later without having to remember too much about what you've already read, which means its ideal as a time filler.
~ Final Thoughts ~
So, this is a book, which on some levels all fits together neatly, and predictably, which in turn means it isn't a taxing read. But it's a book with good characters, who I found I could emphasis with most of the time.
Having it set in Sydney, Australia was also a nice change to the usual America or UK settings I'm used to reading, and this helped bring freshness to it all.
The ending is solid enough, and while not as forensically driven as Malicious Intent (and I believe 'Without Consent') it still has plenty of forensic detail to hold my attention.
There are some secondary plotlines in there that did enough to make me think I was onto the right track a couple of times, only for them to be red herrings, so that is also a good trait I like to find in a book of this kind when I read it.
The characters, both lead and secondary are all believable, well written and well rounded. Again another trait I like to see in books I read, particularly of this genre.
Certainly I am now going to be looking out for 'Without consent' and any other books Fox might be writing.
4 out of 5 stars from me. Not without some problems but overall an excellent book.
~ Availability ~
Widely available from various outlets. I got my copy from our local Asda as part of a buy 2 books for £5-00 deal, so its worth looking around and seeing what you can pick up.
The corpse of a young woman is found bludgeoned, frozen and burnt to death. Then the post-mortem reveals that she recently gave birth. And evidence suggests the baby may still be alive. Detective Kate Farrer must find the missing newborn if it's going to have any chance of surviving. And catch the dead woman's murderer before her own personal demons overwhelm her.