Little Bones by Sam Blake was published by Bonnier Publishing on 17th May 2016.
I was delighted to receive a copy and be one of the first to review this new voice in Irish Crime Writing.
Please read on to to hear my thoughts…
‘When Garda Cathy Connolly is called to investigate a routine break-in, she’s horrified by a grisly discovery: a vintage wedding dress, the hem lined with a baby’s bones.
The case quickly escalates when the dress is connected to top Dublin fashion magnate Lavinia Grant – who has died that very day. The initial evidence suggests natural causes; Cathy suspects otherwise.
The investigation pairs her with O’Rourke, an old friend from the force with whom she has a past. Normally Cathy would welcome his support – but she’s nursing a secret of her own, which becomes all the more difficult under his watchful gaze.
However she can ill afford to become distracted. An infamous Las Vegas gangster has arrived in the city, leaving two bodies – and a buzzing FBI investigation – in his wake.
This cold case is about to become very hot indeed . . .’ (Courtesy of writing.ie)
I have to admit that I have avoided reading crime novels for a couple of years as I have found a lot of them quite similar. When I read about Little Bones, I was delighted. Here was a crime thriller set in Dublin with a young female Cathy (Cat) Connolly as the lead character. Also, the irony didn’t go amiss, when it was brought to my attention that the novel was originally to be called ‘The Dressmaker’.
The novel is based on the morbid discovery of human baby bones stitched into the hem of a wedding dress. This leads to an investigation that takes us from Dun Laoghaire to London & to the US, a story spanning over 50 years.
The story centers around Zoe Grant, an aspiring artist who is heir to the fortune of Lavinia Grant. Lavinia is the grand doyenne of a multi-million pound fashion chain spanning across continents. Always a very private individual, she is found dead in her home the day of Cathy Connolly’s grim findings. The discovery of the bones are at Zoe’s house in a wedding dress that has been ripped open following a burglary. Simultaneously, Lavinia’s body is discovered in her house not too far away. Are these two incidents connected? What is Zoe hiding? What was Lavinia hiding?
Cat is reunited with her old partner, O Rourke, who is now in charge of this investigation & together they realise that this case is a lot more complicated than originally thought.
Cathy is a champion kick-boxer with an enviable dedication to keeping on top of her game but she too is hiding her own secret, one that could damage her career on the force. Her fear of anyone finding out pushes her further & she discovers that this case is affecting her in very unexpected ways.
She tries to figure out Zoe Grant, an elusive individual with a rather disturbing background. Zoe is an artist who is on the brink of discovery. Her relationship with colour is intense and, as Zoe explains, has it roots from her mother. ‘My mother was an artist……My life’s all about colour, how it affects your mood, how it influences behaviour. I think we all have our own palette and if you get on with someone it’s because your colours complement each other – does that sound mad?’
Zoe is fearful of how this case could possibly affect her career so is quite distant with Cat. But as the novel progresses & more horrors unfold, Zoe understands that the truth must come out. She is totally unprepared for the secrets that unfold. Secrets that have been kept hidden in her family for years.
Zoe has grown up believing Lavinia Grant to be her grandmother, believing her mother was in France somewhere and believing that, aside from Lavinia, she had noone else to connect with. ‘Lavina Grant. Her grandmother. More like her governess. In the past few days Zoe had tried to remember a time when she’d loved Lavinia, a time when her grandmother had loved her,taken her in her arms and hugged her, or even a peck on the cheek, a smile of encouragement…She’d had more warmth for Trish (her friend) than she’d ever had for her own flesh & blood.’
As the novel progresses we are introduced to a much more sinister aspect, the Las Vegas Mafia. Cat and O’Rourke find themselves facing a much bigger enemy, one they will have to be very wary of as the case progresses.
The story peels away like the layers of an onion until we get to the core, the truth……
I really enjoyed this novel to the detriment of all around me. I found it incredibly engrossing with many twists & turns along the way. There was the expected & the totally unexpected. I am looking forward to more adventures from Garda Cathy Connolly in the future and would happily recommend Little Bones to anyone looking for a fast paced crime thriller. 5* from me.
You can purchase a copy of Sam Blake’s Little Bones here
Please do let me know what you think.
About the Author:
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’ Loughlin.
Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin is Ireland’s leading literary scout, the founder of The Inkwell Group and of the online national writing resources magazine www.writing.ie
Vanessa conceived and developed the National Emerging Writer Programme for Dublin City of Literature, and is currently working with WritersWebTV.com bringing free, live, online workshops to writers worldwide.
Vanessa is the current Chair of Irish PEN and the Irish and Eurozone Adviser to the international organisation The Alliance of Independent Authors.