July 10th, 2020 by Jane Turner
I read The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane as part of a Blog Tour by RandomThingsTours. The Bone Jar was published by Thomas & Mercer in paperback, Kindle, and audio formats on 1 July 2020.
Two murders. An abandoned asylum. Will a mysterious former patient help untangle the dark truth?
The body of an elderly woman is been found in the grounds of a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. Gradually, the secrets of Blackwater Asylum begin to reveal themselves; there are rumours of secret rooms, unspeakable psychological experimentation and a dark force that haunts the ruins. Urban explorer Connie Darke has her own interest in the asylum; it’s where her sister died in a freak accident and she’s determined to help Kirby expose its grisly past.
Meanwhile Kirby discovers a devastating family secret that threatens to turn his life upside down. As his world crumbles around him, Kirby must put the pieces of the puzzle together to keep the killer from striking again. Only an eccentric former patient knows the truth—but will he reveal it to Kirby or Connie before it’s too late?
The Bone Jar digs into antiquated mental health techniques, urban explorers, architectural follies and family histories everyone would like to forget.
Lew Kirby is a cop with a houseboat on the Thames; something I dream about! Though I can’t imagine his mooring fees (OMG!), just the idea of a houseboat promotes a fantastically romantic ideal which, despite practical issues of heating, maintenance and storage space, I’d love the opportunity to have one day. Ah well, I can dream …
The investigation revolves around the body of an elderly woman found in the derelict Blackwater Asylum, a former mental hospital. Blackwater participated in dubious treatments and shady practices – everything you expect from a mental hospital. I picture the archetypal ‘dark satanic mills’ when I think of Blackwater – it’s a place you don’t want to spend a lot of time, that’s for sure. (Though the Bone Jar itself sounds fascinating.)
Character development is fine for Connie, she’s fairly well outlined, but I found Kirby’s backstory lacking. Kirby’s story is so limited, I almost felt like this was book 2 or 3 of a series, like we already know all about him. Kirby is a likeable and relatable character. Moreover, as the focus of the story, he should be fully fleshed. Besides, I want to know where the 3-legged fox came from!
The story flows well, the characters are (mostly) believable, and it’s a fairly easy read. My main reservation is that there are a lot of story arcs and not all of them get resolved. I was left wondering about a few things, and found myself watching the remaining pages count down, waiting for closures that didn’t come.
All in all, I enjoyed The Bone Jar, but I’d be aware that your specific question may not be answered.
The Bone Jar is an excellent effort from a new author, and I’ll be watching for Ms Kane’s future releases.
SW Kane has a degree in History of Design and worked at the Royal Institute of British Architects before taking on a series of totally unrelated jobs in radio and the music industry, where she still works as a freelance music PR. She has an MA in Creative (Crime) Writing from City University.
She began reading crime fiction at an early age and developed an obsession with crime set in cold places. A chance encounter with a derelict fort in rural Pembrokeshire led to a fascination with urban exploration, which in turn became the inspiration for her crime novels. She lives in London.
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