Vivian Barz’ thriller has some interesting ideas and dark, horror-influenced sequences but is let down by clunky dialogue and unconvincing characters.
Hidden Bones starts with an excellently chilly prologue where a corpse is hidden beneath the roots of a tree. This opening sets the tone well and helps establish some key plot points about a sinister crime organisation. The first couple of chapters build on this strong start and allude to the events of the previous book in the series in a way that is not too jarring for readers like myself who approached Hidden Bones as a stand-alone novel.
Barz has crafted an intriguing plot featuring a missing person case and the story jumps between a number of subplots which help keep the narrative engaging. However, the rising tension is often undermined by the characters making stupid jokes that seem out of place given the stressful situation that they are in. Additionally, too many chapters in the middle of the book feature unnatural dialogue where characters stand around and explain the plot to each other.
The descriptions of the scenary are elegantly written but the dialogue routinely ruins the atmosphere. An early example of this is Chapter 5 where a sinister mood is created through the behaviour of the locals in the town of Clancy. The tone is abruptly ruined by the characters commenting on how unsafe the town is for tourists. I would have preferred it if the writer trusted the reader to be able to make inferences from the descriptions rather than have the characters tell the audience how they should be feeling at every point in the story.
The dialogue so frustrating because it lets down the parts of the story which are genuinely great. Eric has psychic powers and although this supernatural element is introduced in a slightly over-the-top way for people who are unfamiliar with the series so far, his horrifying visions are a real highlight of the novel.
Hidden Bones has some major flaws in terms of its dialogue and uninteresting characters but the fast-paced plot and well written descriptions kept me mostly engaged throughout the story.
I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.