Source: Review copy
Publication: 8th March 2018 from Simon & Schuster
What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?
He’ll slice your flesh.
Your bones he’ll keep.
Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.
Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper. Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood. But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone.
The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.
I’ve been itching to review this since I picked it up at Bloody Scotland. This stand-alone crime thriller from Luca Veste is a great chunky read. It starts with an urban myth – a bogeyman made large when four children go wandering in of one of Liverpool’s woodlands chanting the Bone Keeper song as they go – and then only three come back.
Fast forward 20 years and everyone in Liverpool knows the Bone Keeper urban legend. What no-one expects is to hear it sung by Caroline Rickards, a young woman who has collapsed in the middle of a street after being beaten and horribly stabbed. DS Paul Shipley and DC Louise Henderson are assigned the case. Caroline, recovering in hospital, claims to remember little of her ordeal, but Louise thinks there is more she is not saying. Louise herself has a strong feeling about this case – and one thing she knows for sure, this is one that will not go away.
I particularly like the way that Veste builds the tension in this novel. Its part of what makes him such a good storyteller. Of course he starts out with a couple of scary events, but thereafter the book takes on the guise of a police procedural and we are lulled into a false sense of security for a while as Shipley and Henderson, between whom there is a frisson of interest, pursue their enquiries as part of a task force.
Have you ever experienced a dramatic sunset? You have been gently strolling in the warm sun for ages, kept going by the warm glow as the sun sets only to find that the next thing you know it is pitch black, getting chillier and you have no idea where you are? This book is all that. The tension creeps up on you slowly until you realise you have forgotten to breathe and that your shoulders hurt from the rigid way you have been holding yourself.
As the task force discovers more bodies going back many years, Louise can’t help but think she ought to understand what’s happening here – if only she could remember her own past.
Veste has given us a serial killer with a thwarted psyche, making for a seriously dangerous individual.
Grisly, well written, tightly plotted and guaranteed to make you check under your bed at night, this is a serial killer/police procedural/ horror story you will not easily forget.
Bring back Louise Henderson soon!
About Luca Veste
Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage, married with two young daughters, and one of nine children. He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi novels as well as The Bone Keeper. His books have been translated and published in the USA, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland.
As well as writing, Luca is also a guitarist and regularly performs with the group The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers.
Luca is also one half of the hysterically funny podcast duo, Two Crime Writers and a Microphone. If you haven’t heard Luca and his partner in crime, Steve Cavanagh, then you really should subscribe!