Inherit the Bones

Fair warning: this mystery includes a clown. He is good and dead, if that helps, and it's Deputy Gemma Monroe's job to figure out who killed him in Emily Littlejohn's terrific debut, Inherit the Bones. When the identity of the traveling circus performer is discovered, the small town of Cedar Valley, Colo., is rocked by secrets that have been buried for decades.

In the summer of 1985, young cousins Tommy and Andrew McKenzie disappeared. That same summer, a woman's body was found dumped on a riverbank. Neither mystery was ever solved. More recently, the mayor's son slipped off a cliff and vanished into the raging water below. The dead clown is simply the newest addition to Cedar Valley's tragic history.

Along with a partner she doesn't fully trust and a freshly minted recruit, a very pregnant Gemma must mine the town's past crimes in order to solve its most recent. There's always danger to be had when digging up old secrets, and the investigation will heap more misfortune on everyone attached to them before it's over.

Inherit the Bones will leave readers wanting more from Littlejohn's impressively diverse cast of characters, each presented with intriguing depth without distracting from the action. Littlejohn's prose deftly moves the investigation forward, yet is often laced with moments of insightful beauty. The story arcs grow worryingly in number, but Littlejohn pulls them together in excellent fashion. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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