Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Audiobook Review - The Bone Garden

Tess Gerritsen is one of the first crime/thriller authors I tried when I was in my late teens/early twenties that I enjoyed (same goes for Kathy Reichs, not so much for Patricia Cornwell but THAT'S a different story!) and I have always dipped in and out of her books. I first read Body Double, then dipping in and out of her Rizzoli and Isles series.

Tess's stand-alone were very hit and miss with me. I really enjoyed Harvest when I read it YEARS ago, I DNFed Life Support & Playing with Fire and The Shape of Night was a bit meh for me (review for that is here, if you're curious on my thoughts when I first read it in 2019

But I have always, ALWAYS wanted to read Bone Garden. It just sounded creepy with how it looks at early medicine in Boston 1830s.

Title and Author:
The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
Publisher: Transworld
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought eBook and borrowed audiobook from library via BorrowBox app.

In the present day, Julia impulsively bought a house to get over her divorce. As she is digging up the garden, she discovers a skull. The skeleton, it seems, was buried over a hundred years ago. But who is she, and how did she die?

In 1830s Boston, an impoverished medical student and a young Irish immigrant who suddenly becomes guardian of her baby niece find their paths keep crossing as a terrifying serial killer. Something sinister is happening in Boston, and it has nothing to do with the grave robbing or body snatching...
I'm in two minds over this as there are elements of this I enjoyed, and others I had issues with.

My biggest issue is the book's pacing. I understand why, this is the historical medical thriller so, of course, we need to spend time understanding the medical world at the time the book was set (1830s USA) and also understanding the landscape of the political/social landscape (how Americans treated Irish immigrants, the Police, sexism and others). Because of this, the first half of the book was SO SLOW in pacing. It dragged and it wasn't until the halfway mark that, for me, the book picked up pace and the story felt like it could trust its reader to keep up.

Once the pacing did pick up, the story held my attention and things moved and were revealed at a delicious pace. And I warmed to our leads of Rose and Norris from 1830s and Julia from present. Oh yes, this book does jump timelines, but we stay mostly in the 1830s (with a handful of chapters in the present).

Plus, there are elements of this story that are creepy. And they are all based in fact. One of the most horrifying scenes, to me, is very early one when we are in a hospital ward, full of ill pregnant women and the doctor touches each of them in their most vulnerable areas and DOESN'T WASH HIS HANDS BETWEEN PATIENTS. Nowadays, this is common thing for all of us (doctor and nurses wash their hands between each patient and the public know to wash our hands to prevent the spread of germs) but back in 1830s, no one knew about germs so, of course, doctors and nurses didn't wash their hands. But that scene was more chilling than anything else I read throughout the entire novel...

I do want to say something before I wrap up: I keep seeing from certain publishers that this is a Rizzoli and Isles thriller. It isn't, and the fact that publishers are still saying this, even when the author calls this a standalone is hugely frustrating and misleading. Dr Maura Isles only appears in two scenes as a secondary character of no importance to the story or plot and Detective Jane Rizzoli doesn't appear at all. So why, OH WHY, are you guys calling this a Rizzoli and Isles thriller?!

While I am not the biggest fan of Tess Gerritsen's standalone novels, this is one of her strongest and makes me itch to reread some of my fave novels from her: Body Double, Vanish & The Mephisto Club. Maybe even try a Rizzoli and Isles that I haven't read before: Keeping The Dead.

No comments:

Post a Comment