In October 1963, two brothers are out for bike rides clad in their Halloween costumes as a fog rolls into town. Chuck, dressed as Spiderman, loses track of younger brother Danny, dressed as Huckleberry Hound. He is lost and the truth of what happened to Danny would remain a mystery. In December 1987, Chuck Coolidge and his two daughters head back to Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania to care for his ill mother who has never gotten over the loss of Danny. Teenage Frances “Frank” is unhappy to move to this rundown town. But she promised her mother, who left the family, that she’d always care for her younger sister Megan “Boots”. The residents of Slippery Elm don’t welcome Chuck back with open arms as people have long thought he was responsible for the death of his younger brother and another young boy found dead in the woods soon after. When another child turns up murdered, old wounds open up and growing up becomes harder than ever for Frank.
Lies in Bone is the type of book that once you start it, you can’t put it down. The characters are unforgettable, starting with teenage Frances “Frank” Coolidge, who has to become the grownup in the family far too early. She is forced to face life’s ugliness including the aftermath of a local murder. Author Natalie Symons skillfully presents the darkness and despair of Slippery Elm, a once prosperous town that has been deteriorating since the closing of its steel mill. You can envision the crumbling, boarded-up buildings and once stately homes. Even during her darkest days, Frank remains tough and resilient, with the ever-present music of Bruce Springsteen to help her along.
Many thanks to the author for the opportunity read her beautifully-written debut novel. At its heart, it’s a moving coming-of-age story yet it is also a compelling murder mystery filled with lots of suspense. Do yourself a favor and read it.
Rated 4.75 out of 5 stars.
Literary Fiction | Coming-of-Age | Mystery
Publication Date: September 21, 2021.
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