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Forgotten Bones (Dead Remaining) by Vivian Barz


Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Forgotten Bones is the first installment in the Dead Remaining series. Police Officer Susan Marlan and College Professor Eric Evans play the central characters. The prologue draws readers in with a realistic and dramatic opening that leads to a creepy mystery for law enforcement to solve. It involves the accidental discovery of one child’s dead body in the small town of Perrick, California, and the uncovering of more bodies. The FBI takes over the case, and they zero in on one man as the guilty party. However, Susan questions the validity of the FBI’s rationale and decides to conduct her own unauthorized investigation. Eric is experiencing uncanny and horrifying visions that seem to correlate with the gruesome findings of the corpses. Are Eric’s hallucinations from his own imagination, or do supernatural elements play any kind of role? Eric teams up with Susan to help discover if the police have the right suspect in their sights.

The story switches back and forth between the two main characters. Both of them are dealing with real life issues, and readers gain an in-depth perspective into their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. The balance between the pursuit of the guilty party and gaining insight into the characters’ motivations is wonderfully achieved by Vivian Barz. The strong internal and external conflicts facing the main characters get readers invested in the overall outcome and entices them to stay engaged and keep reading to the last page of the book.

Barz has written a chilling, tension filled, and well-paced story that is a combination of police procedural, suspense, thriller, and mystery. The mix of long and short chapters does not slow down the pace of the story. Vivid imagery, mental illness, red herrings, apparitions, moral dilemmas, a touch of romance, perseverance, and betrayal all contribute to a fascinating high-octane story that keeps readers guessing until the shocking end. Throughout this cliffhanger, Barz not only does a great job of drawing a fine line between reality and fantasy but also expertly portrays how schizophrenia affects an individual’s life. The effective, albeit not overuse, handling of similes and metaphors by Barz enhances the reading experience by helping readers envision scenes in their heads. Graphic descriptions produce a mental picture of the unsettling and shocking deaths.

Forgotten Bones is a spellbinding debut novel of a new series. Additional installments will appeal to readers who enjoyed this story and leave them clamoring for more.



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