Book Review: Bone Deep Bonds
Reviewed by Jadidsa Perez
Covering a devious affluent man, a missing child, and decades of generational trauma, Bone Deep Bonds begs the question: how do we heal?
Content warning: Child abuse, sexual assault, drugging, graphic violence
B. G. Arnold’s debut novel, Bone Deep Bonds, is a psychological crime novel that extends beyond the tropes & characteristics of common mysteries. It explores concepts like villains being victims themselves, the predisposed notion of victimhood, and how absence, whether short or long, can dramatically change a relationship. Telling the story of a wealthy pedophile, the novel discusses the class privileges that have allowed predators to exist in plain sight.
Twelve-year-old Brian is jogging when he is kidnapped by Phillip Nottingham, a serial child abuser who “educates” his victims while sexually assaulting them and then returns them to their home, drugged. Unbeknownst to Brian, men are hunting Phillip, including Brian’s father and one of Phillip’s former victims. The story then becomes a countdown on who will find Phillip first and what that might mean for Brian’s safety.
The story starts with Phillip’s point of view, which is immediately engaging and mysterious. The reader is aware of Phillip’s motivation, but he does not divulge any personal information besides his prejudices. Phillip is only one of the many viewpoints we get throughout the story,. This keeps the story fresh and moving.
Each primary character is multi-dimensional and given the opportunity to share their perspective. Brian’s Father, who is traditional and deeply religious, goes after Phillip to save his son, but he holds some dark secrets himself. As we get to know these characters, we cannot ever fully understand them. They stay in our minds well after the novel is over.
The dialogue and verbiage doesn’t always feel realistic. There isn’t much regional colloquial language, despite people from different areas, and while it makes sense for Phillip to speak with such a high vocabulary, it doesn’t always feel distinct and realistic that Jane speaks that way, too.
Some of the characterization seems a little inconsistent as well, particularly with Jane. When initially meeting Owen, she is set on helping him despite him being a stranger to her. Eventually, she dismisses him for being a drug addict, even though that was the initial reason she wanted to assist him. She eventually comes around, but that moment of judgment seems out of character. It also might have helped to explore Dave and Shirley Hopkins a bit more in order to accept their extreme generosity.
There may have been a few criticisms that held it back for me, but in the end, I would recommend Bones Deep Bond to crime mystery fans in search of a deeper psychological element.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Crime
Print Length: 316 pages
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