Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her seventh outing (after Liar, 1998), journalist Irene Kelly is part of the investigative team on the hunt for serial killer Nicholas Parrish's many victims. Their graves are in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, and Parrish, having entered a plea bargain, is there too, leading the team to the women's corpses in exchange for a life sentence instead of the death penalty. But Parrish has planned a surprise or two. When a grave explodes, most of the team are killed, Irene flees, and the killer escapes. Back home, Irene continues to work at the behest of Gillian Sayre, the daughter of one victim. Her hunt for Parrish is made considerably easier by his growing obsession with her. A cunning psychopath with a calm demeanor, Parrish heavily resembles Hannibal Lecter. Rather than eat his victims, however, he tortures and dismembers them. Burke spends the first third of the novel overbuilding Parrish's reputation, so by the time she actually depicts his depravity the horrors are a bit anticlimatic. Later, the killer's mysterious accomplice, "The Moth," will be too easily identified by readers, especially after Burke unsuccessfully labors to mask his/her gender. And Parrish is only generically, not memorably twisted. Though Irene and other characters are well wrought and realistic, too many red herrings are introduced, all meant to distract the reader from the true evil, which, once fully revealed, just isn't quite evil enough. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Los Angeles Times
Ever since her auspicious debut, Jan Burke has raised the emotional ante with each succeeding book....Burke is a witty and resourceful writer.
Burke weaves a compelling tale, delivered at a fast-paced clip. The suspense is high and the characters complex. Jan Burke is on the fast track.
The Washington Post
Intelligent and deftly paced thriller-cum-procedural...a first-rate series.
After teenager Gillian Sayre asks crime reporter Irene Kelly to look into the disappearance of her mother, Julia Sayre, Kelly discovers that Julia in all probability has become a victim of sadistic killer Nick Parrish. When the police capture Parrish, he offers to lead them to Julia's body, which he buried in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Kelly bulldozes her way onto the team of police and forensic specialists, including search dog Bingle, which accompanies Parrish. Once the group arrives in the mountains, things go horribly wrong. Winner of this year's Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for best mystery, Bones is a tough, challenging, yet ultimately rewarding look at how ordinary people can triumph over evil. Although Bones is the seventh book to feature Irene Kelly, readers who are not familiar with other titles in the series can still enjoy it. This mystery has all the necessary ingredients for an outstanding reada terrific sense of pacing, great characterization, and a suspenseful plot that will keep readers turning the pages. Because the killer is a particularly twisted fiend, a certain measure of graphic violence is part of the plot, but violence is not exploited simply for its own sake. This thriller is highly recommended for older teens who have discovered authors such as Sara Paretsky or Laura Lippman. VOYA CODES: 5Q 3P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 1999, Simon & Schuster, 378p, $23. Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: John Charles
SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5)
In order to escape the death penalty, a serial killer agrees to show authorities the grave of one of his victims in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Leaving a fretful detective husband behind, inveterate reporter Irene Kelly follows the taunting psychopathic killer, his guards, guides, two forensic anthropologists, a photographer, and one amazing canine into the wilderness. A traumatic reversal, however, turns the already risky journey into a lethal game of the hunter and the hunted. Detailed surroundings, chilling prose, and an unforgettable, "isolated-with-a-killer" plot recommend this for all collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
In her seventh thriller Jan Burke pits reporter Irene Kelly against a cruel serial killer...What follows is a harrowing adventureand heartrending discoveryto which Burke adds a breathtaking twist. Run to the nearest bookshop for this one.
Nicky Parrish is one bad boy. He enjoys doing unspeakable things to womenafter they're dead, too. And is he ever sold on himself. He thinks he's the smartest serial killer who ever lived, much smarter than anything the Las Piernas (California) PD can put up against him. And, just to show you how hubris can distort reality, he even thinks he's smarter than series heroine Irene Kelly, ace reporter for the News-Express. He isn't, though for a while he makes Irene's seventh appearance (Liar, 1998, etc.) an authentic walk on the wild side. Why? Because Irene turns out to be Nicky's type, and discovering that a serial killer wants to get it on with you in a highly psychotic way is enough to darken anybody's worldview. Nicky, who in his best (read: worst) moments can be almost as unnerving as Hannibal L., proceeds to set his complex game afoot. He allows himself to get caught, promising to lead the cops (and Irene) to the gory grave somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains of his most recent blue-eyed brunette, then springs his trap. As a result, it's Nicky and Irene one on one: a grim, nail-biting, life-and-death struggle that reaches its climax on page 175. Trouble is, there are 203 pages to go, during which little that happens (Irene has emotional problems, gets help; Irene has career problems, gets frustrated) equals what preceded it. Sure, Nicky overreaches and will pay the price for his unabashed wickedness, but it's all so indefensibly long-winded. Taut and suspenseful early on, Bones goes soft around the middle.