Saturday, 18 March 2017

Written In Bones by James Oswald

This is the first title by this author that I have read and is the seventh in his series of Inspector Tony McLean novels. I’ve heard a lot about the author James Oswald and have intended to read his books for a while, not least due to his interesting publishing journey. I read that he found it hard to get an agent or a publisher because his novels crossed genres. Their crime novels but with a supernatural bent and that apparently confused people in the industry. So eventually he self-published Natural Causes and The Book of Souls (the first two Tony McLean novels) and to cut a long story short, they succeeded and the traditional publishing houses came calling. It’s a great story and for an aspiring writer like myself, an inspiration.

So anyway, I’ve had both Natural Causes and The Book of Souls on my Kindle for a while now and for various reasons never got around to reading them. Written in Bones came up on NetGalley, the review website I use, and accepting that I was diving in to a series at book seven and thus things might go over my head, I requested it. I’ve now read it and, simply, wow. I can now see what all the fuss is about.

Written in Bones finds Tony McLean having to deal with a corpse that’s fallen from a great height into a tree. How did it get there? Was it dead before it fell to become impaled in the tree, or did the fall kill him? Things are complicated by the fact that the young son of a murdered gangster was the first person to find the body. Was this pure coincidence or is someone trying to send a macabre message? Furthermore, the dead man is a former cop, imprisoned for corruption, before apparently turning over a new leaf to found a successful drug counselling charity.

As I say, this is my first taste of James Oswald’s work, but it certainly won’t be my last. While Written in Bones is number seven in the series, it can be read as a standalone. Reading the novel, it’s clear that there is back story that one is missing out if one hasn’t read the previous volumes, but the author explains what’s necessary when needs be without overburdening the newbie reader with voluminous explanation. That said, if you like Written in Bones as much as I did you’ll be snapping up the author’s back catalogue.

One of the pleasures of being a book reviewer is discovering a new author. I’m late to the James Oswald party but now I’m here I intend to indulge! I already have the first two volumes to read, soon I’ll be buying the rest.

An excellent read, 5 out of 5 stars. 

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