The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

The Bone GardenReviewed by Allen Hott

A travel back and forth between the 1800’s and today is usually quite a chore for a reader and even more so for the writer but Tess Gerritsen does it really well. Most of the story is centered in the earlier period but the reason for the story is the present day. When she moves from one to the other Gerritsen does show at the beginning of the chapter which period the story is in so it is really simple and does not hinder the story.

And that story is a great one!

Julia Hamill has recently purchased a very old house in rural Massachusetts and is in the process of refurbishing it both inside and out. One of her chores outside is to dig up some flower beds so that she can begin fresh plantings. However in the midst of her digging she discovers what she believes is a large rock but it turns out to be human bones. She calls the local authorities and a team is sent out to investigate. Their findings are that the bones are very old and from several cracks found in the skull of the body they believe the person was probably murdered. And they also believe that the skeleton is over one hundred years old meaning the person was probably killed around 1830 or so.

The owner previous to Julia was a ninety-two year old lady named Hilda Chamblett who died while working in her garden so the bones were definitely not hers which the authorities had already figured out as the bones were much older anyway.

In the week after the discovery Julia gets a phone call from a gentleman named Henry Page who says he saw the story of her findings in the newspaper and it seems Hilda Chamblett was his cousin. He turns out to be a historian of sorts, especially about his family. He tells Julia he has many, many records of the family going back over one hundred years and wants to know if Julia is interested in reviewing them. Being a school teacher on a summer vacation, she thinks it to be a great idea and goes to meet Henry.

She and the old gentleman begin reading through many of the pieces of old newspapers and letters. They then discover several letters that are signed O W H. Henry tells her he is certain they stand for Oliver Wendell Holmes who was a family friend in those times.

Using the examination of all these materials as a background, Tess Gerritsen builds a really great story of some strange happenings in the 1830’s period in the Boston area. These happenings include looking into hospitals at the time and how diseases were transmitted. Also how mothers often either died in childbirth or shortly thereafter.

Primarily however Gerritsen tells of several murders in the area and how a young girl gets very involved with all who were involved in them. Her involvement is in fact, the real premise of The Bone Garden as it is told.

Many twists and turns pull the reader along on a somewhat grisly but very interesting mystery that is told in yesterday’s life and todays. Great read to the end!

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