The Bone Chamber
A Sydney Fitzpatrick Mystery by Robin Burcell
Review: FBI Special Agent and forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick has just arrived in San Francisco to begin a much-needed vacation when she's urgently summoned by a colleague to return to Quantico to help identity a woman whose face has been peeled away in The Bone Chamber, the second mystery in this series by Robin Burcell.
Dr. Natasha Gilbert is a forensic anthropologist and close friend. But she's unexpectedly missing when Sydney arrives at FBI headquarters. Her sketchy notes on the case are there, a woman whose face and fingertips had been removed, clearly to hide her identity. But when Sydney examines the body she notices something else: the triangular, somewhat ritualistic shape of the wound on the skull. Sydney recreates a portrait of the dead woman, identifying her as Alessandra, the daughter of the US ambassador to the Vatican and an archeology student, who — coincidentally? — disappeared from a dig in Egypt, the same one Natasha had been working. Had they found something worth killing for? The case takes a tragic turn when Sydney learns Natasha has been killed by a hit-and-run driver. Zachary Griffin takes over the case and abruptly eliminates Sydney from participating, but she's not so easily cast aside. She is convinced Natasha's and Alessandra's deaths are connected and flies to Rome to continue her investigation, pursued by someone — connected with the FBI or not, she does not know — who is determined not to let her discover the truth.
The chase for the secret behind some historical document or relic is certainly not an untested premise for a thriller, but The Bone Chamber handles it nimbly, offering the reader a multi-faceted, fast-paced story that is made more appealing by the presence of Sydney Fitzpatrick. The historical elements are interesting if rather overdrawn, but the excitement here is in following Sydney on her quest to understand what cost her friend her life. She has to balance her professional training with her personal feelings, all the while keeping one step ahead of those who would do her harm. It's all well done — albeit in an escapist sort of way.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Bone Chamber.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of The Bone Chamber for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Face of a Killer
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), November 2008
ISBN-13: 9781590583746; ISBN-10: 1590583744
Location(s) referenced in The Bone Chamber: Virginia, Rome, Italy
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The Bone Chamber by Robin Burcell — A Sydney Fitzpatrick Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: December 2009
List Price: $24.95