Review: Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell

bone2Title: Bone by Bone

Author: Carol O’Connell

Genre/Pages: Suspense/Mystery; 352 pages

Publication: Putnam; 12/30/2008



I’ve never read any of Carol O’Connell’s other novels, but do enjoy suspense stories.  Bone by Bone is a quirky mystery in which no character is safe from suspicion!

Set in California, Bone by Bone recounts a 17 year old missing person case.  One by one, human bones are being left on the Hobbs family’s front porch.  The patriarch, a retired judge, suspects the bones are those of his son, Josh, who has been missing for almost 20 years.  The prodigal son,  Oren, returns home after an almost 20-year exile to help solve his brother’s case.  Despite an eccentric cast of characters and terrific premise, the execution of this novel wasn’t what I thought it would be.

Bone by Bone contains so many red herrings that I began to crave Swedish fish candy.  The plot moved along and there was a good deal of characterization, but it was all lost on me–I was drowning in a sea of suspicion. 

Another reviewer compared Bone by Bone to a Seurat painting–what appears, from close up to be only a jumble of colors, transforms into a stunning painting as you pull back.  I thought this was a brilliant analogy.  As I was reading, I couldn’t see the big picture; after I finished this novel, I was able to appreciate it.

O’Connell has a huge following and her Kathleen Mallory novels are really popular.  I may try one of those because I do love the genre and don’t want to miss out just because one book left me a bit underwhelmed.


  • At 2009.05.20 06:14, Nicole said:

    Sounds like an interesting premise that went astray. Thanks for the review.

    • At 2009.05.20 08:36, Steph said:

      It sounds like in a way, this book actually left you OVERwhelmed – too much going on! It does sound like an interesting premise for a book, and yet I guess I’m starting to learn as I explore the thriller genre more and more that there really is a divide between those that are mediocre in their execution and those that are in the upper echelon. It’s a shame when a good premise goes of the rails, but it happens. If you do try other books by this author, I’m interested to hear what you think of them!

      • At 2009.05.20 08:58, Molly said:

        Laughing Out Loud at your red herring/swedish candy comment!!

        Thanks for a great, honest review

        • At 2009.05.20 11:09, Becky Workman said:

          Awesome review! I enjoy reading your thoughts on books! I guess I won’t rush to add this book to the top of my TBR pile.

          • At 2009.05.20 13:10, Ti said:

            I don’t read a lot of suspense novels anymore because the ones that I’ve picked up recently seem sort of silly to me. Here’s a clue… in case you missed it, here it is again.. blah blah.

            Now I want some Swedish candy too 🙂

            • At 2009.05.20 13:54, vivienne said:

              Love the swedish candy comment! Very entertaining.

              • At 2009.05.20 16:42, bermudaonion said:

                Sorry this one didn’t work for you.

                • At 2009.05.21 21:47, Belle said:

                  What an interesting review – love your analogy. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read the first few Mallory novels. It was a while back, and Mallory is quite the character. I have one of the newer ones in my TBR. I remember I really liked the first one – I’d love to know what you think if you decide to pick it up!

                  (Required, will not be published)

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