The Bone Garden
By Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books September 2007
After a bitter divorce, Julia Hamill buys a fixer-upper, determined to do something on her own. As she begins to work on her garden, she discovers bones buried in the backyard. A relative of the woman who formerly owned the house calls her, offering to go through family documents with her in an effort to discover the identity of the dead woman. She travels to Maine to meet the elderly Henry Page. Their research leads them to the letters of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes from 1830 – a serial killer is on the loose in Boston and targeting people at the hospital where he works. Is the woman buried in Julia’s garden a victim of the West End Reaper?
After reading this book, I totally understand all of the Tess Gerritsen love. I read this in a day (almost – I read two chapters the night before). Ms. Gerritsen writes some awesome suspense. I found the ending slightly disingenuous with regards to the time period and what certain people could and could not do, but I still found the overall story arc really good. There is a lot of interesting history going on here – the medical practices of the 1800s, the prevalence of stealing bodies from graves for study, discrimination against the Irish, and the difficulty women had in trying to support themselves.
I found myself speeding through the section in the present to get back to the past with Oliver Wendell Holmes, his colleague Norris Marshall, and Rose Connolly, a young woman whose sister is in the hospital ward. Having not read any of her novels set in the present (i.e. the Rizzoli and Isles series), I have to wonder how well Gerritsen writes with characters who are not based in history. That being said, I look forward to finding out.
PS - Are any of you participating in the 24 Hour Readathon this weekend? It will be my first time doing a readathon and I am feeling some serious dorky excitement.
I have a few things I have to do Saturday (in addition to preventing my child from destroying the house or running out into traffic), so we will see how much reading I get done. If you are interested, check it out here.