Fateful Mornings

Tom Bouman won the 2015 Edgar Award for Best First Novel with Dry Bones in the Valley, a country noir set in rural Pennsylvania. Henry Farrell and Wild Thyme Township return in Bouman's comparably compelling yet vastly different Fateful Mornings. Henry is the lone cop in town, a good man who is fallible and sometimes lazy. Wild Thyme remains punctuated by drugs, alcohol, petty crime, fracking and the oddball miscreants who partake in them.

Told over the span of more than a year, this slice of Henry's life begins with one of many fateful mornings. Henry is called to a job site where Kevin O'Keeffe is rambling about his partner, Penny Pellings, going missing. While Kev is less clear on whether there might also have been a shooting, it's not long before a body turns up. As the multi-fronted investigation moves forward at a slow burn, so does Henry. He plays music in a band, helps his friend Ed on a construction project, engages in romantic predicaments and doggedly pursues the ripples from Penny's disappearance.

Like Henry, Bouman works with quiet confidence, his narrative strong and compelling without unnecessary flash. A smart writer who respects his reader, Bouman evidences some nifty narrative tricks and writes about the crafts of music, carpentry and policing with detail that adds authenticity to Henry's world. The pace amplifies at the midpoint, but Fateful Mornings is less about the investigation and more about how life's flow can be dammed (and damned) and redirected by circumstance. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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