Quantico-based FBI agent Kelly Jones returns (from The Tunnels) in Gagnon's straightforward procedural, called in to investigate a site in the Berkshires: six unburied skeletons spread across Massachusetts and Vermont state lines. The victims, young gay hustlers, are barely missed by the insular local law enforcement. As more bones turn up, Kelly realizes that she's dealing with two serial killersan expert and an impulsive amateur copycat. As Kelly wrangles her uncooperative task force, the two killers play a game of cat and mouse with each other, and as Kelly draws closer, members of her team get drawn into their deadly game. Gagnon plays the antagonism between the two villains nicely, but ends up imputing more color to the antagonists than to Kelly & Co. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Boneyardby Michelle Gagnon
On the trail of a serial killer, the path splits in two
FBI special agent Kelly Jones has worked on many disturbing cases in her career, but nothing like this. A mass grave site unearthed on the Appalachian Trail puts Kelly at the head of an investigation that crosses the linefrom Massachusetts to Vermont, from wealthy vacationers to poor transients,
On the trail of a serial killer, the path splits in two
FBI special agent Kelly Jones has worked on many disturbing cases in her career, but nothing like this. A mass grave site unearthed on the Appalachian Trail puts Kelly at the head of an investigation that crosses the linefrom Massachusetts to Vermont, from wealthy vacationers to poor transients, from a serial killer to a copycat nemesis.
Assisted by law enforcement from both states and a forensic anthropologist, Kelly searches for the killers. But as darkness falls, another victim is taken. Kelly must race to save him before he joins the rest
in the boneyard.
In this follow-up to her debut, Tunnels, Gagnon delivers another psychological crime thriller again featuring FBI special agent Kelly Jones, who closely resembles Clarice Starling, Thomas Harris's heroine in Silence of the Lambs. This time, Kelly investigates a string of grisly crime scenes left in the wake of a sadistic serial murderer's frenzied path along the northern stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont and Massachusetts. Gagnon's plot is fast-paced, appropriately detailed in its forensic depictions, and reveals an attention to authentic FBI detection procedures that lets the reader know that the author has done her homework. While this novel doesn't offer anything particularly original to the genre, it is an engaging and quick read. Recommended for popular fiction collections for readers who like Jeffery Deaver, J.D. Robb, and Kay Hooper.
Read an Excerpt
Kelly Jones strode across the Quantico campus, pausing briefly to let a contingent of new trainees walk by. The hint of a smile danced across her face as they passed, heading toward a brown, barrack-like classroom building. She had hated wearing that uniformthe navy golf shirts and khakis. It always looked as if they'd been sidetracked en route to the ninth hole. But in retrospect, those sixteen weeks of training had been some of her best, she mused as she continued walking. She'd loved the classroom time, the weapons training, and her daily runs along "The Yellow Brick Road," named for the saffron-colored rocks marking the trail. Ever since then her life had been a tangle of failed relationships and dead bodies, she thought ruefully as she hauled open the door leading into one of the nondescript buildings.
She paused briefly in the foyer, trying to remember the route to her supervisor's office. The Behavioral Science Unit was housed in the basement and was comprised of a confusing warren of hallways painted a cheerful color to mask the fact that there were no windows. Even after six months she still managed to get lost in here, mainly because she'd spent most of that time crisscrossing the country to assist on cases. Going by her gut, Kelly took a right and headed down a long, narrow passage, her footsteps loud on the sterile white tiles. After a few more turns she stood outside a door marked, Special Agent in Charge Gerald McLarty. She knocked and entered. The room stood in stark contrast to the hall outside. The floor was plushly carpeted in thick, slate-gray Berber wool. The wood-paneled walls were covered with framed antique maps, and a few plants sprouted unobtrusively in the corners. Kelly smiled at the woman behind the desk at the far side of the room, who gestured to the phone against her ear and pointed to the navy couch facing her. Kelly resisted the urge to grit her teethshe hated to be kept waiting. Especially today, when there were a million things to do before she headed home to pack. As she settled against the cushions, she started composing a list in her head. She'd have to finish the piles of paperwork from her last case, and make sure copies were sent to the appropriate departments. She desperately needed to stop by the dry cleaners before they closed, and despite the fact that she loathed shopping, she needed to find a good sunhat. Her red hair and fair skin weren't going to take kindly to the Caribbean sun, especially at this time of year. And back home she'd have to deal with her fridge, since some of the food was threatening to crawl off the shelves.
Her train of thought was interrupted by a door opening at the opposite end of the room. Gerry McLarty's voice boomed out, and Kelly smiled to herself. Her new boss was infinitely superior to her old one. He was one of the main reasons she'd decided to accept the promotion when they'd offered it to her. The difference between the two men was stark. While Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bowen had been a wormy pencil-pusher with no field experience who compensated by bullying subordinates, Gerry McLarty was a highly decorated field agent who had risen through the ranks by virtue of his own guts and brains, and was highly respected by everyone fortunate enough to work with him. Though he chafed at driving a desk, the mind that had helped capture some of the nation's most elusive serial killers had proved to be equally adept at managing the agents serving under him.
Kelly had initially been leery of joining the Behavioral Science Unit. She'd spent a good chunk of her career rolling her eyes at the composites compiled by BSU profilers, and the invitation to join their ranks had not been appealing. A phone call from McLarty had changed all that. He'd been impressed with her work on a case that garnered a lot of national attention, one that dealt with a series of murders in the tunnels beneath a college campus. He'd been persuasive, arguing that her style of investigation would fit in perfectly with the philosophy of the BSU. After considerable arm-twisting, she agreed to the transfer on a provisional basis.
McLarty's ruddy face poked around the corner of the door and immediately lit up. "Agent Jones! They told me you were back. Get in here, I want to hear all about it." He summoned her with a beefy hand and she followed him into his office. Here the nautical theme continued, maps now interspersed with photos of McLarty with various dignitaries including the president, the attorney general, and Bono from the band U2.
"So." He plopped into an enormous leather swivel chair and folded his hands together on the desk. "How did everything turn out in Cleveland?"
Kelly gave him the rundown on how she'd helped the local homicide unit track down a man suspected of abducting over a dozen children in the past decade. They had him in custody now, and were hoping to extract a confession based on evidence tying him directly to at least two of the killings. As she spoke, however, she got the sense that her boss's mind was somewhere else. "Everything okay?" she asked, when there was a long pause after she'd concluded her report.
"Sure, sure." McLarty tapped a finger on his desk in a quick staccato. His edgy energy was an office joke, but he seemed even jumpier than normal today. His enormous frame was contained in an impeccably tailored suit, and the fluorescent lights reflected off his thinning blond hair. He examined her with sharp green eyes and said, "You're due to take vacation time?"
Kelly nodded. "Yes, I'm all set to leave tomorrow."
His gaze dropped to the floor, and a pit formed in Kelly's stomach. "What's going on, Gerry?" she asked, already dreading the answer.
"We might need you. Just for a few weeks " he continued hurriedly when he caught the expression on her face. "Thing is, I'd send Manolo, but he and Jennifer are stuck doing the antiterrorism-training thing, and everyone else is on active assignment. You're the only one in the unit that's qualified and free right now."
Kelly bit her lower lip. She should have known. The first vacation she'd planned in five years and work got in the way once again. Her longest break since joining the FBI had been the week she took off to settle her mother's affairs after her death. How typical that a case would come along just as she was getting ready to board a plane. For a moment she questioned again her decision to remain at the Bureau. Instead of transferring, maybe she should have left altogether.
Gerry caught the look in her eyes and shook his head. "Jones, I feel terrible about this. How about I tack on a few extra vacation days when you get back? After all your hard work, you deserve it."
Kelly wanted to point out that she already had months' worth of vacation time accrued, but asked instead, "What's the case?"
"Ever been to the Berkshires?" When she shook her head, he continued, "On the bright side it'll be kind of a minivacation for you anyway, it's gorgeous there this time of year. Lot of New Yorkers keep a second home there. In the summers they've got the Boston Symphony, theater, you name it. The wife even dragged me to a dance festival there once, didn't take to the people rolling around in tights but the spot was pretty " His voice trailed off at her raised eyebrows. "Anyway, they've found a boneyard there."
"What, like the ones Bundy left?" Kelly asked. Any agent who'd dealt with serial crime knew the stories of how Bundy had used a few different dump sites in Washington State for his victims, places he came back to time and again with fresh bodies.
McLarty shrugged. "Maybe. It's not clear yet, all they've found is skeletal remains. Five bodies confirmed so far, possibly six, and they're still looking."
Inwardly Kelly groaned. "Skeletal? How old are they?"
McLarty shook his head. "Don't know that yet either, but I'm sending along a forensic anthropologist, he should be able to help. You'll be leading a task force of officers from Massachusetts and Vermont. And Jones, tread carefully. Unless you can find any evidence of a federal statute being broken, you're there in a strictly advisory capacity."
"So the bodies are spread across two states? Sounds like a jurisdictional nightmare," Kelly said, not even bothering to keep the despondency from her voice. For this she had to miss her vacation.
"I know," McLarty answered sympathetically. "So far the search area spans a couple of miles on either side of the state line, which is why we're being called in. Apparently animal trails might open it up even further."
"Five bodies is a lot to stumble across all at once," Kelly noted. "Were they buried?"
McLarty shook his head. "Apparently not."
"Strange that no one smelled them decomposing," Kelly said, intrigued in spite of herself.
"See? It could prove interesting." McLarty settled onto the edge of the desk, facing her. "And honestly, Jones, you get in there and nothing seems to be happening, after a few weeks with no leads I'll pull you in. We'll tell them you'll go back if new evidence materializes. I just need you to run interference until then." He hesitated briefly before continuing. "From what I understand, so far the task force members haven't exactly been getting along."
"Fantastic," Kelly muttered. "When do I leave?"
"Tomorrow morning. As a special favor, I've arranged to have a Massachusetts State Police chopper pick you up in Boston to shuttle you the rest of the way. Thought that might cushion the blow."
Kelly smiled weakly with what she hoped looked like gratitude. "Thanks, Gerry."
He waved her off. "Don't thank me, I know if I were you I'd be cursing my name the whole way there. But I won't forget this, Jones. Next time a cherry assignment comes along, I'll see you're first in line."
"Great," Kelly said with marginally more enthusiasm. Which was curious, she pondered ten minutes later as she settled in behind her own desk. A year ago she would have jumped at the promise of first dibs on important assignments. Hell, she would have chosen nearly any assignment over a vacation; the thought of lounging on a beach would have been completely unappealing. Funny how things change, she mused. Of course, the murder of her partner last year had hit her hard, making her question for the first time in her life the path she'd chosen. During her decade-long career at the Bureau she'd been driven, single-minded in her need to hunt down killers like the one who stole her brother's life when they were children. But despite all of the interesting cases the transfer to BSU had brought her, she'd felt her enthusiasm flagging lately. When it came right down to it, she was tired of being surrounded by death.
Her eyes drifted across the matte-gray walls of her cubicle. To call it spartan would be putting it kindly. The only evidence that she'd ever used the space was a university mug on her desk that held a handful of pens. Not a single photo or newspaper clipping decorated the walls, and her computer monitor was set to the default image. Of course she'd barely spent any time there, she reasoned, knowing full well that even if she never left the office she probably wouldn't have been tempted to add anything personal. That just wasn't her style.
She gnawed her lip in agitation, eyeing the desk phone as if it might bite her. After a minute she picked it up, muttering, "Might as well get this over with."
It rang twice before someone answered and asked, "All packed?"
Her eyes squeezed shut as she responded, "I've got some bad news."
"Great to see you," the bald man exclaimed, shaking his hand heartily. "How are the wife and kids?"
He matched the enthusiasm of the grip. "Doing great, enjoying the last bit of summer." He smiled widely, casting through his memory for baldy's name. Finally, it came to him. "How about you, Allen? Haven't seen you folks at services lately."
"Oh, you know " Allen's voice trailed off and his gaze shifted to the ground.
Belatedly, he recalled a rumor he'd heard at the church potluck, something about Allen's wife and a gardener. His ratcheted his grin up a few notches. "How about this weather, huh? Unbelievable!"
"It sure is. No better place to spend the dog days of summer." Allen's expression brightened again. They were standing outside the Wal-Mart in North Adams, Massachusetts. The enormous white-block building looked particularly incongruous set against the backdrop of rolling hills and trees. "Planning on taking full advantage," Allen continued, holding up his shopping bag and nodding toward the fishing pole jutting out the top. "How about you, what you got there?"
"Nothing much, just doing a little work around the house," he said, keeping his own bag down, handles firmly closed.
"I hear you. Hey, how about those bodies they found up by the border? I hear there were a dozen of them, maybe more."
Allen lowered his voice. "I've got half a mind to take the kids back to the city early this year, cut the summer a little short."
"No need for that." The man scoffed. "Probably just some lost hikers. Half those assholes on the Appalachian Trail have no right being there."
"Maybe." Allen sounded doubtful. "Still, we're heading out a little early this year. So if I don't see you again "
"Absolutely, have a good one!" His grin vanished as soon as Allen lumbered away across the parking lot. His truck was parked in the opposite direction and he strolled toward it, keeping his head down. Once there, he opened the doors to the king cab back seat and dropped the bag into the wheel well. It landed with a clank. He draped an old blanket across, concealing it, then slid into the driver's seat. He pulled the hat brim down low over his eyes as he pulled out of the lot, ruminating on what Allen had said. So people were frightened to the extent of leaving early, which was a shame. This time of year the Berkshires were so lovely, he thought ruefully. Chasing away good churchgoers had certainly never been his intent.
Meet the Author
Michelle Gagnon has worked as a bartender, dog walker, Russian supper club performer, model, personal trainer, and writer. She lives in San Francisco.
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Somewhere along the Appalachian Trail hikers discover human remains dug up by animals. This leads to a massive search for more bodies through several states. FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones, who was on her way on a much needed vacation, was asked to delay her plans and to coordinate a special task force consisting of law enforcement officers from Vermont and Massachusetts. During the investigation it becomes clear that there are two serial killers, one whose murderous skills are fine-tuned, while the other is an inexperienced copycat. All the victims are young men and drifters-people that would not be missed. As the investigation continues, Jones finds that these killings have been going on far longer than anyone ever expected. Jones is teamed with Massachusetts State Trooper Bill Doyle who has little admiration for her and even less regards to the necessity of the task force, making Jones' work that much more complicated. Jones has an ally in Vermont's homicide investigator Monica Lauer, though this too becomes problematic as Lauer's rapport with Doyle has the two constantly at each other's throats. Bone Yard was an excellent read--I had a hard time putting the book down. The action is high pace, the suspense gripping and there are plenty of twists-and-turns. Bone Yard is author Michelle Gagnon's second novel featuring Special Agent Kelly Jones, the first being The Tunnel. I guarantee that after you read Bone Yard you'll immediately go in search of Gagnon's previous novel. I highly recommend this book.
I enjoyed the extra twist to this plot (which I won't mention because I don't want to spoil it). It wasn't the typical "bad guy", "good guy" story. However, I did find it fairly easy to figure out who the killer was. The writing is very good, the plot intriguing. The story kept me interested and moved quickly. Also, I did not personally find this book overly graphic in violence. It's a serial killer book, so you have to expect a certain amount of violence. However, I didn't find the descriptions over the top or difficult to handle.
FBI agent Kelly Jones is looking forward to her first vacation in years. However the workaholic is asked by Special Agent in Charge Gerald McLarty to delay her leave when skeletal remains are found on the Appalachian Trail. She heads to the Berkshires where more corpses have surfaced.----------- Because the bodies are spread around with many jurisdictions involved, a battling taskforce filled with plenty of local yokels, state, county and Feds is created. However as she ignores the locals, Kelly begins to piece together the common thread between the victims all are young and gay. The other thing obvious is the serial killer has been murdering men for years and still is active. Private security chief Jake Riley arrives to help his beloved Kelly on the investigation, but she knows the hunk is the one distraction she needs to avoid as she TUNNELS through a nasty serial killer case in which the cops are roadblocks.------------ The return of FBI Agent Kelly Jones (see THE TUNNELS) MAKES FOR AN EXHILARATING POLICE PROCEDURAL as she struggles with the petty jealousies of the task force members who all want glory and know who they work for which is not her. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with plenty of non-stop action as Kelly and company work the case. The support cast, especially the prime task force members, seems genuine and Jake adds to the pressure on the heroine while the killer is more shadowy, which embellishes the overall effect. Michelle Gagnon provides an entertaining serial killer thriller.------------ Harriet Klausner