Valley of Bones: A Novel

Valley of Bones: A Novel

by Michael Gruber


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061650741
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Series: Jimmy Paz , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 907,426
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Michael Gruber is the author of five acclaimed novels. He lives in Seattle.


Seattle, Washington

Date of Birth:

October 1, 1940

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Columbia University, 1961; Ph.D., University of Miami, 1973

Read an Excerpt

Valley of Bones

By Gruber, Michael

William Morrow & Company

ISBN: 0060577665

Chapter One

The cop happened to look up at just the right instant or he would have missed it, not the actual impalement, but the fall itself. It took him a disorienting second to realize what he was seeing, the swelling black mass against the white stone and glass of the hotel facade, and then it was finished, with a sound that he knew he would carry to his grave.

After that, he took a minute or so to sit on the bumper of his car with his head down low, so as not to pollute the crime scene with his own vomit, and then reported the event on his radio. He called it in as a 31, which was the Miami PD code for a homicide, although it could have been an accident or a jumper. But it felt like a homicide, for reasons the cop could not then explain. While he waited for the sirens, he looked up at the row of balconies that made up the face of the Trianon Hotel. The thought briefly crossed his mind that he ought to go and check the guy out to make sure that he was actually dead, that perhaps the wrought iron fleur-de-lis spearheads protruding from the man's neck, chest, and groin had missed all the vital organs in their paths.

He was a dutiful officer, but this was his first fresh corpse, and he decided not to investigate more closely than a couple of yards, telling himself that it was better not to contaminate the crime scene. The corpse had been a good-looking guy, he thought, leather-darkskin but aquiline features: hooked nose, thin lips, a little spade beard. There was something foreign about the face, although the officer could not have said what it was.

Turning away from it with some relief, he inspected the facade of the hotel, noting that there were three vertical columns of balconies adorning the twelve floors of the building, which was capped by a copper roof styled after a French château. That was the theme of the Trianon Hotel, as much French as would fit: besides the roof, there were gilt cornices, coats of arms, New Orleans-style wrought iron on the balconies, and, of course, fleurs-de-lis on the iron fence that surrounded the south face of the property. People were coming out of the hotel now, frightened men in the hotel's white livery, a few guests from the lobby. A woman's shriek recalled the cop to his duty, and he herded them all back into the cool interior.

A broad man in a double-breasted cream suit accosted him at this point and announced himself as the manager. He knew who it was, a guest, 10 D, and gave a name. The cop wrote it down in his notebook. The manager departed, dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief, and the cop resumed his study of the facade, although his eye kept drifting over to the victim. The flies arrived and got to their buzzing tasks, and shortly after that an ambulance pulled up. The paramedics emerged, took in the scene, declared the man officially dead, made wiseass paramedic remarks, and went back to their bus to wait in the cool of the AC. The crime scene van arrived, and the CSUs started to assemble their various implements of investigation and their cameras, while making some of the same cracks (that's what I call piercings; sorry, he can't come to the phone right now) that the paramedics had made, and after a little while an unmarked white Chevy pulled up, and out of it came a neatly built, caramel colored man, in a beautifully cut gray-green silk and linen suit. The cop sighed. Of course it had to be him.

"Morales?" asked the man. The cop nodded, and the man held out his hand to be shaken, saying, "Paz."

"Uh-huh," said Morales. He knew who Jimmy Paz was, as did everyone on the Miami PD, as did everyone in Metropolitan Dade County who owned a television. Morales had not, however, met him professionally until now. Both men were first-generation Cuban immigrant stock, but the patrolman considered himself white, like 98 percent of the Cuban migration to America, and Paz was not white, yet also undeniably Cuban. It was disconcerting, even without the tug of racism, which Morales was conscious of trying to resist.

"You're the first response on this?" Paz was not looking at the corpse. He was looking at Morales, with a pleasant smile on his face and little lights glinting in his hazel eyes. He was looking at a man in his early twenties, with a fine-featured beardless face, in the complexion usually called olive, but which is more like parchment, a face that might be choirboy open when relaxed but was now guarded, tense, the intelligent dark eyes focused on the detective so hard they almost squinted.

"No, I was here already. Somebody called in a disturbance at the hotel. It was a hoax call. I was just about to pull out when he came down."

"You saw him drop?"


Paz looked up at the face of the hotel and saw what Morales had seen. It was perfectly clear from which balcony the victim had begun his fatal descent. All the balconies but one had their glass doors closed against the afternoon heat. In the single exception the door was open and the white curtains were flapping like flags. Paz counted silently.

"It looks like the tenth floor," he said. Now for the first time he inspected the corpse. "Nice shoes," he said. "Lorenzo Banfi's. Nice suit too. A dresser. Tell me, why did you call it in as a homicide?"

"He didn't yell on the way down," said Morales, surprising himself with this statement. Paz grinned at him, a catlike grin, and Morales felt his own face breaking into a smile ... Continues...

Excerpted from Valley of Bones by Gruber, Michael Excerpted by permission.
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Valley of Bones 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great characters, an intricate, globe-trotting plotline, and an exploration of faith's place in the world make this an enticing whodunit. A great read!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Miami Police Officer Morales was just leaving the Trianon Hotel after responding to a hoax call of a disturbance when he saw the man fall from the tenth floor balcony. Though he wanted to vomit, he first called in a homicide and held back his physical need so as not to compromise the crime scene. Not long afterward renowned Detective Paz arrives to take charge of the investigation.--- They head up to room 10D to learn more about the victim Jabir Akran al-Muwalid to decide whether a suicide, an accident or a murder occurred. Inside the room in some form of a trance is Emmylou Dideroff who insists that she was talking with the dead Saint Catherine of Siena before she fainted. She also says that Mr. al-Muwalid is a mass murderer slaughtering thousands from her tribe and others with his death squad in the Sudan; she swears she came to forgive him not kill him though the murder weapon belongs to her.--- Above are just the first few pages of an excellent crime thriller that plays out on three interconnected fascinating story lines. The obvious is Jimmy Paz¿s investigation; then there is the extracts from the book Faithful Unto Death: The Story of the Nursing Sisters of the Blood of Christ by St. Benedicta Cooley; finally the handwritten bound notes dubbed The Confessions of Emmylou Dideroff that the wild protagonist furbishes to Paz. Fans of deep police procedurals with two intriguing twists (the other sub-stories) starring a wonderful protagonist and a weird but intriguing suspect will take immense delight with Michael Gruber¿s return of the Paz (see TROPIC OF NIGHT).--- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Gruber takes the title of his second novel from the Book of Ezekiel, the verse that refers to the hand of the Lord setting one down 'in the midst of the valley, which was full of bones.' Not a very pleasant prospect. In this fast paced story readers will find themselves wondering precisely what it is the Lord or demonic forces can do as they are introduced to a fictional order of nuns that increased its ranks from among orphaned and disabled young girls, and meet Emmylou Dideroff, a devout Catholic woman who claims to have communion with saints - and the devil. While Valley Of Bones is described as a thriller, it's an enormous mistake to simply pigeon hole this exhilarating page-turner. Gruber pens, if you will, a thinking man's thriller - it delves more deeply than most and his characters are both original and unique. (Not too many thriller writers create characters who quote Thomas Merton). His plots are multi-layered. His narratives send chills down your spine while they just as easily challenge you to think. Set in Miami, Valley of Bones opens with a young policeman, Tito Morales, witnessing a fall from a hotel balcony. A fall that results in the impalement of a wealthy oilman. Morales had come to the hotel in response to a minor disturbance call, but has witnessed a death and heard a thud that he'll 'remember to his grave.' Soon on the scene is homicide detective Jimmy Paz (met in 'Tropic of Night'). Paz has a reputation as a crime solver, but neither of the two were prepared for what they found in the man's hotel room - Emmylou Dideroff in a trance-like state. She doesn't take long to relate her reasons for killing the oilman and asks for several notebooks so that she can explain her action and write her confession. Is she a woman truly possessed or is she pretending to be such in order to be declared unfit for trial? Whatever the answer to that question is, psychologist Dr. Lorna Wise testifies that Dideroff is indeed mentally unable to stand trial. Wise pores over the notebooks the woman has filled in an attempt to understand what could have driven her to such an extreme. But the writings make little sense outside of references to childhood abuse, and previous crimes. Meanwhile, Paz has a few demons of his own in the form of nightmares, frightening dreams he cannot fully comprehend. He seeks the help of his mother, a santera, to banish the dream. Wise soon finds herself caught in a web, a bicultural web woven by mysticism and Santeria. And, like all webs it's extremely dangerous. Gruber doesn't short shift readers on romance - there's a torrid one between Wise and Paz. As a matter of fact, this author doesn't short shift readers in any area. After spending years as a speechwriter and ghostwriter for popular legal thrillers, Gruber finally wrote under his own name. He was worth waiting for. - Gail Cooke
oldbookswine on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Who isEmmylou Dideroff? A saint, a sinner, a mentally ill woman or just a criminal looking for forgiveness. A young police man and a psychologist trace Emmylou's past through her four books that represent her confession. Voodoo , the Catholic Church and local police all provide a story with ends with the sense that there is more to come. If you read Brown, Ilges, or Neville, you'll want to add this title to your reading list.
mrtall on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Valley of Bones is an unconventional murder mystery/thriller with a supernatural charge. Miami Detective Jimmy Paz teams up with buxom psychologist Lorna Wise to unravel the truth behind the gruesome murder and defenestration of a Sudanese war criminal. The key to the story is Emmylou Didderoff, a downhome gal who's certainly a sinner but maybe also a saint. I thoroughly enjoyed Gruber's mix of strong characterization, multiple narrative perspectives, and quick pace. What makes the book special is how seriously the supernatural is considered; there are no stereotypes amongst the believers here -- indeed, they're by far the most interesting and well-rounded characters. This is a rarity in contemporary fiction, and to be lauded, especially when it's done as well as it is here.
julied on LibraryThing 8 days ago
In Miami, a man is hit on the head and thrown from a hotel balcony. When the homicide detective, Paz, goes up to investigate, he finds a woman, Emmylou Dideroff, in the room. She is in a trance, speaking to St. Catherine of Siena, which qualifies her to the detective as both a wacko and a likely murderer. This seems confirmed when they find a bloody weapon on the balcony with Emmylou's fingerprints all over it. She even has a likely motive but denies committing the murder. This is not as open and shut as it seems as Jimmy Paz pursues clues that lead to the international oil market, a FBI watch list, and missionaries in the Sudan.Aside from the intricate mystery there is the spiritual factor. Emmylou claims to have communion with the devil which leads to her being put in a mental institution where, at the detective's request, she begins writing a confession. However, her confession is more along the lines of St. Augustine's Confessions ... and soon she is filling four notebooks with the story of her life. At this point we meet Lorna Wise, a psychiatrist who is determining Emmylou's fitness for trial. Both Wise and Paz have actual moments of seeing the devil that Emmylou has mentioned but they manage to lie to themselves. Little doubt is left to the reader, though, that what they are experiencing is real. Strange personality changes start coming over Paz who is beginning to wonder if he is possessed and then shaking off the feeling. I am screaming to him, "Wake up and smell the coffee! YES, yes you are!" Obviously this is no ordinary mystery.Along the way we see Wise's various insecurities, Paz's Cuban-American world and how he relates to the "white" world, insights into police detecting, how men and women relate to each other, and so much more. Most of all, there is a strong spiritual thread throughout that is interesting in itself as each character responds in their own way. This all is being told through four points of view: the detective, the psychiatrist, Emmylou's confessions, and pages from the book Faithful Unto Death: The Story of the Nursing Sisters of the Blood of Christ by Sr. Benedicta Cooley. As I read further I began to see that these are all showing various ways of conversion, of openness to God. This feeling is intensified when we meet Paz's former partner, a strong evangelical Christian who is not afraid to share his faith. Most unusual for a mystery of this sort.This may sound like a jumble of information but that is part of what makes this book so very interesting. The author is a masterful writer who makes everything come together naturally.Make no mistake, it is a gritty, adult mystery and has sexual content that may offend some readers, so far most of which is in Emmylou's confessions. However, any offensive content has been relayed with such a lack of passion or detail that I didn't find it bothersome.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing 8 days ago
I don¿t remember particulars of Tropic of Night since it was some years ago that I read it. The writing was good, but I recall it taking me a relatively long time to finish though. It was the `supernatural¿ aspect that bogged me down I think. Generally I don¿t have a lot of patience with that kind of thing. It¿s Gruber¿s schtick though, especially with this series and his creation Jimmy Paz who is of Cuban descent and whose mother is a heavyweight in the Santeria scene. So I decided to pick this one up on a whim. The premise sounded interesting and I wondered what Gruber would do with it.This novel is no less convoluted as the first and yes, it also has a large dollop of the supernatural. Maybe I should say religion, but to me it¿s all the same. It is told through three main narrations ¿ Paz¿s investigation into the death of Sudanese VIP, a historical narrative relating to The Nursing Sisters of the Blood of Christ and the murder suspect¿s confession. Emmylou is an enigma of a character and reading her selectively remembered `confession¿ is hugely entertaining. I really like the multi POV or multi-narrative technique and Gruber does this very well. One villain is obvious and when he pops up again, it¿s not surprising. Others are more shadowy, but Gruber crashes them together at the end with his usual violence.
CynthiaBelgum on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Interweaving 3 threads which quickly coalesce, Gruber ostensibly presents a murder mystery about the man murdered in the first few pages. By the end, the story turns on its side to be about the accused perp. The historical base of the Sisters of the Blood of Christ and the budding romance between Detective Paz and Lorna, a psychologist involved in the case are the other threads. An underlying spirituality, partially Christian and partially Santaria rock the players. Towards the end, an old, skillful dective is brought in to explain things. The denouement is not totally believable, but Gruber swept me along the whole way.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing 8 days ago
I didn't like this quite as much as Gruber's first novel, Tropic of Night. This installment was not as tightly plotted, and after a VERY long, slow build-up, the ending felt rushed and was not entirely satisfying. I still plan on seeking out Gruber's other novels, however.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’m thrilled to have stumbled across this book! I am looking forward to reading more by Michael Grube. Intriguing character development and plenty of twists and turns kept me going even when I had hypothesized the possible “root of evil”!
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Love this book! Love the inclusion of the spirt world into the everyday world. Love the unique characters.
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J_Walter More than 1 year ago
I found "The Room" by Michael James to be fast paced and engaging. Adventure, suspense, mystery and believable characters all uniquely woven together kept me turning the pages needing to discover what was coming next and how this wonderful tale was going to end.
A well written book which links the past to the present and provokes thought and introspection of our eternal spiritual journey. Well done Michael James ! I'm looking forward to his next book.