Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Bone Dust White - Karin Salvaggio's first book

by Karin Salvalaggio
St. Martin's Press - Minotaur Books (May 13, 2014)
304 pages - 15.80 $

Someone is knocking at the door to Grace Adams’s house and won’t stop. Grace thinks she knows who it is, but when she looks out her bedroom window, she sees a woman she doesn’t recognize walking on the trails behind her home. The woman isn’t alone for long before a man emerges from the dark of the surrounding woods and stabs her, then retreats into the shadows, leaving her to die in the snow. Frantic, Grace calls the police but knows they’ll never arrive in time, so she herself goes to the woman and is shocked to find she’s not a stranger—and that only raises more questions.

Badly shocked, Grace is taken to the hospital, and Detective Macy Greeley is called back to the small town of Collier, Montana, where she worked a case once before. She needs to track down the killer and find out what the murder has to do with Grace, a troubled young woman whose harrowing past may have finally come in from the cold. But the town of Collier is just as hard-bitten now as it was years ago, and Macy will have to reopen old wounds as she investigates a murder that looks like it took eleven years to come to pass.

Karin Salvalaggio’s outstanding crime fiction debut, Bone Dust White, is an absolutely stunning work that signals the entrance of a major new talent.

What's about that book?

This is a first novel for Karin Salvalaggio and having read a first few books of authors, I must say it's pretty good. Even if sometimes the scenes follow without much transition which can be confusing, the story unfolds smoothly and continuously.

I enjoyed the well made depiction of ​​the city of Collier which main source of income seems to come from meth labs. It reveals the flip side of what makes the greatness of the United States. Here it's abject poverty, quarter with unfinished homes, rows of trailers, different traffic organized by truck drivers, hard people who prefer to remain silent and helpless victims. It's gritty, oppressive and depressing and it makes me feel awfully glad I don't live in such a place (which exists unfortunately).

There are a whole slew of characters in the book but we mainly follow Macy, the detective and Jared, the first paramedic on scene. These two are ex and their relationship, between memory, regret and acceptance, is well brought. I still have to admit that I think Jared takes up too much place in a detective novel that is supposed to be about a new detective, Macy. Especially as she teames up with the local Sheriff. Jared goes along with Macy in her investigation and we follow him out of the investigation, as if he were the main character. Certainly, he's the link between Macy and Grace - touching and all in fragility - but it seems to me that normally civilians do not accompany the police  during an investigation and he takes too much space.

The story is very gloomy, like the city, the atmosphere and the weather (freezing). Complicity are multiple and the silence - so strong in small communities - hinders Macy's work. Between disillusioned victims who no longer believe in the police and thugs who take advantage of their silence Macy has trouble finding the answers to her questions. For those who love novels where the characters are the heart of the story it's perfect. Here, the plot is mainly used to show the misery of small-town  in America and the decay of the human being. Quite black, but very human at the same time. A little regret, some questions - that are not relevant to the investigation - remain unresolved.

In a nutshell

A first novel altogether successful, a well writen context, the relations between characters are realistic and take the upper hand in this novel. This is a 3.5 / 5 for me.

Warning: An e- galley of this title was provided to me by the publisher. No review has been promised and chronic above is an unbiased review of the novel.

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