A Bedlam of Bones
A Francis Oughterard Mystery by Suzette A. Hill
Review: Suzatte A. Hill's five-book story arc involving The Reverend Francis Oughterard, vicar of Surrey — with running commentary by Bouncer and Maurice — comes to a close with A Bedlam of Bones.
The storyline here picks up just after the events that concluded the previous book in the series, Bones in High Places, which presents something of a problem for new readers, who may choose to start with this book. (Word of advice: Don't.) While previous entries could have been read as stand-alones, for all practical purposes, the present one cannot. Indeed, there are many, many footnotes that make reference to events in the previous books. This is not the first book in which the author has done this, but it seems a bit excessive here. On some level, however, it makes sense as the author is attempting to tie up a lot of loose ends. But it's more than a little distracting and just slightly disingenuous, as the very thin plot that is woven between the footnoted paragraphs is hardly worthy of a full-length novel. To be sure, there's the mystery of a dead body and other assorted crime novel elements included, but the point of A Bedlam of Bones seems to be to bring a closure to Francis Oughterard's unfortunate incident from the first book in the series, which has haunted him since.
The most entertaining parts of the book are the chapters written by Bouncer ("The Dog's Diary") and Maurice ("The Cat's Memoir"), but despite their witty narrative and wry notes, the novelty of their unique observations has worn off a bit over time.
It's a bit disappointing that a series that began with such a promising premise ends so weakly. Still, the journey was an entertaining one, and one worth taking.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of A Bedlam of Bones for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Bones in the Belfry
Soho Constable (Hardcover), August 2008
ISBN-13: 9781569475102; ISBN-10: 1569475105
Location(s) referenced in A Bedlam of Bones: Surrey, England
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A Bedlam of Bones by Suzette A. Hill — A Francis Oughterard Mystery
Publisher: Soho Constable
Publication Date: July 2011
List Price: $25.00