Book Reviews

Book Review: To The Bone by Jeff Carson – Humans Are the Real Monsters

This is the seventh book in Jeff Carson’s series about the former Sheriff, now Chief Detective David Wolf. When the county he was the Sheriff of merged with a nearby one in order to consolidate resources, he lost out on the Sheriff position. However, the new Sheriff appreciated his abilities and made sure he had a position of importance within the department. To The Bone, however, hits close to home for David Wolf.

David’s son Jack has a new girlfriend. Cassidy arrives home to find her father shot dead on their front lawn. She calls David right away, who rushes over there, not sure if the killer is still around. Cassidy’s father is a broker of dinosaur bones. He matches people who want to buy with people who want to sell. While David is clearing the scene at Cassidy’s home, the U.S. Senator who was the buyer for a nearly complete dinosaur skeleton turns up.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the seven books in this series, it’s that David Wolf does not impress easily. He has the same attitude towards the Senator that he would for anyone who turned up at the scene of a murder. Sheriff McLean, however, is much more deferential, seeing the possibility of securing more funding. However, there’s no sign of the bones nor the million dollars in cash that the Senator allegedly paid upfront.

Cassidy’s grieving family extracts a promise from Wolf to find the person or persons who killed her father. This means Wolf pursues a lead out of Rocky Points to a dig site under the authority of college professors from Utah. Since it’s on private land, the same rules don’t apply as if they made a discovery on public lands. However, once Wolf arrives the body count starts ticking up, and even the Sheriff of that county and his very friendly daughter might be involved.

This was a good mystery intertwined with everyday life. Wolf is struggling with being a single parent to his teenage son who barely talks to him. In this case, he’s struggling with talking to his son about sex, when it becomes obvious that Jack and Cassidy spent the night together. He can commiserate with the Sheriff who’s trying to be a single parent to a rather headstrong daughter. Wolf has also added a former police dog named Jet to his life. Jet is retired, but still has the abilities to help him out from time to time. Unfortunately, he also has vitriolic gas.

It’s the mystery of who would kill the broker and walk away with both the cash and the bones that are at the center of the story, though. There are a lot of twists and turns and intrigue surrounding the dig site. Carson has given us a good mystery at a good pace. I kind of had an idea of what was going on, but didn’t guess who the person at the center of it all was until just before it was revealed. It’s not obvious, but the clues are there. I like a mystery where I’m always trying to think of the angle a particular character might have in regard to the situation, and To The Bone had a lot of that.

I thought this series started off weak, but it’s improved as it’s gone on. I think people could read To The Bone as a standalone. Wolf does work with the officers he knows and trusts back in Rocky Points, but getting him out of the town helps a lot with making the story accessible to people who haven’t read the previous six books. There are nice diversions there as well, with the officers’ personal lives intruding on the investigation. I think this is my favorite in the series so far.

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