Two murders. An abandoned asylum. Will a mysterious former patient help untangle the dark truth?
The body of an elderly woman has been found in the bowels of a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. How are the two murders connected?
Before long, the secrets of Blackwater Asylum begin to reveal themselves. There are rumours about underground bunkers and secret rooms, unspeakable psychological experimentation, and a dark force that haunts the ruins, trying to pull back in all those who attempt to escape. Urban explorer Connie Darke, whose sister died in a freak accident at the asylum, is determined to help Lew expose its grisly past. Meanwhile Lew discovers a devastating family secret that threatens to turn his life upside down.
As his world crumbles around him, Lew must put the pieces of the puzzle together to keep the killer from striking again. Only an eccentric former patient really knows the truth—but will he reveal it to Lew before it’s too late?
Hi and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Bone Jar! Many thanks to Anne Cater for the invite and to Thomas & Mercer for the eARC via NetGalley and the paperback copy.
The Bone Jar, what a title! I was fully intrigued and I hadn’t even read the blurb yet! And then I did read the blurb, and then I read it again, and in the end I virtually tripped over my own feet in my haste to sign up. You see, I have some trigger words, in a good way: words that are guaranteed to pique my interest and trigger me into wanting to read the novel if they’re in the blurb. One of those words is “secret”. Did you read the blurb? Check! Another, and one I hadn’t even realised until now, is “asylum”. Oh my giddy aunt, an asylum! An ABANDONED DERELICT asylum! With underground bunkers and secret rooms and *whispers* unspeakable psychological experimentation, ooooooh!
Kids, I was so enthusiastic about this one that I read it right after I got it, namely May. I regret nothing. Except maybe that I can’t read it again for the first time, but then again, I will definitely read it a second time, not in the least to try and spot any clues Ms Kane left and I missed the first time around. Yeah, it’s one of those novels where you reach the end and think: was the truth really staring me in the face this whole bloody time and did I still miss it?! I think it was! I need to go back and check!
So, what do we have here? An elderly woman found murdered in an abandoned asylum. Few pages in, and we already have our first mystery to solve. Because who is she? And why the hell would anyone want to murder an eighty-something woman? At the same time, a man has gone missing in the vicinity of Blackwater Asylum. Did he have anything to do with the murder? Did he just go on a bender? Or might he have witnessed something he shouldn’t have? Bam, second mystery! And they only pile on from there. The more the police discover about Blackwater, the more questions pop up.
Of course I gobbled up the mysteries, the questions whose answers kept eluding me, the slowly unravelling secrets, but there is more to The Bone Jar. While it’s excellent fiction, it also sheds a light on a treatment used in psychiatric hospitals in the 60s and 70s: Deep Sleep Therapy. I found that fascinating and most definitely an enrichment of the story, knowing that the practice and malpractice of said technique is based on real facts.
The Bone Jar has such an atmospheric setting, not just because of the asylum but also because it’s set in the dead of winter, with the cold and the snow creating a gloomy sort of mood. It has a whole array of interesting characters, notably DCI Lew Kirby, whom I adored, Connie, an urban explorer, and Raymond, a former Blackwater patient. I do hope to see more of Kirby, The Bone Jar would be an excellent start of a new police procedural series, and if that’s the case then hopefully Connie will be back too. I also feel there are a few details left to clear up or expand upon, and I’d be first in line for a sequel!
The Bone Jar is so intricately woven that at one point I wondered if I should start drawing up family trees to keep all the facts straight. My brain must have short-circuited at least once, but you know what? This is 100% worth straining your grey cells for! I loved how it all came together in the end and how Blackwater’s dark history was finally laid to rest.
For me, The Bone Jar more than lived up to the expectations the blurb had created, I thoroughly enjoyed it and if you, like me, can’t resist a brooding thriller set in an asylum, then I’d happily recommend you add this one to your TBR!