Review: Little Bones by Sam Blake (@samblakebooks; @BonnierZaffre)

lbThe Official Book Blurb

Twenty-four-year-old Garda Cathy Connolly might be a fearless kick-boxing champion but when she discovers a baby’s bones concealed in the hem of a wedding dress, the case becomes personal.

For artist Zoe Grant, the bones are another mysterious twist in her mother’s disappearance. Then her grandmother, head of the Grant Valentine department store empire is found dead, and a trail of secrets is uncovered that threatens to shake a dynasty.

In a story that moves from London’s East End to the Las Vegas mafia, one thing is certain – for Cat, life will never be the same again.

Little Bones by Sam Blake is the first book in a new series featuring Irish Detective Cathy Connolly. A twenty-four year old kick boxing champion, Cathy already has quite a history in the police force, having experienced more in her short career than some officers can experience in a lifetime. As a result of this past she has a close working relationship with her boss O’Rourke, but she has something going on in her personal life that she is too scared to even tell him about. Something which could change everything for her.

The premise of this book is intriguing to say the least. Artist Zoe Grant has reported a strange person in her garden at night and then the following day, while she is out at an appointment, someone breaks into her house. This in itself is worrying enough but when the Garda, namely Cathy and O’Rourke, arrive to investigate they find a wedding dress, torn to shreds, in which a collection of small bones are found stitched into the hem. When the bones turn out to be human, Cathy and O’Rourke have a job on their hands to discover the source of the bones. It is made especially hard by Cathy’s personal issue, the fact that the investigtions keeps hitting barriers and that O’Rourke is somewhat distracted by the search for a fugitive wanted by the FBI for a series of murders in the US, a man now thought to be in Dublin.

In amongst Cathy and Zoe’s stories, there are interludes taking us to London where a woman known as Mary is found wandering dazed and confused. Quite how and why Mary fits in with the story in Ireland is not clear until the end, although it is fairly easy to guess where the story may be leading. That said, I don’t think even I expected the slant that Sam Blake put on this story, a story as rolling as the Wicklow Mountains which form the backdrop to the city. It is beautifully crafted, and the flow back and forth between the central characters is seamless. There are several points of view covered, several voices to be heard, and by using this technique Blake manages to keep several key plot points cleverly disguised. I was taken by surprise more than once, which is no mean feat these days believe me. They weren’t jaw dropping, what-the-heck kind of surprises, but more subtle and therefore more effective, leaving a certain amount of satisfaction and a feeling of wanting to tell the author ‘fair play’ for what she had managed to keep hidden, mostly, it has to be said, in plain sight.

This wasn’t a book which needed or suited a major shock factor. The story unwinds slowly, perhaps reflecting the pace of life I associate with my many visits to Ireland (I’m in Dublin every month), the intersecting and interwoven nature of the individual stories, and also the almost cold case nature of the crime Cathy is investigating. That said, there are still moments of real tension, particularly where the American fugitive is involved, and Blake manages to infuse enough menace and pace into these sections without jarring the reader out of the novel. And the ending… Well, that certainly sets us up nicely for book two and I am really intrigued to know quite what, how and why what occurs comes to pass and the impacts it will have on Cathy and O’Rourke.

The writing in this book is sound, the description of setting quite wonderful and with a real feeling of authenticity. The mental battles the Cathy has with herself certainly rang true given her situation and the political and religious climate of the culture of Ireland. I really enjoyed the book and was drawn in to all elements of the story. The characters were all likable and the chemistry between the two lead police officers was perfectly balanced. That said, and this is purely a matter of personal taste, it was a little slower in pace than I have been used to of late, particularly from a police procedural, and it took a little settling into, forcing me to slow my own pace down to read it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I would still class this as a page turner, but it is more a gradual uncovering of deeply buried family secrets than it is an action thriller type. I’m not quite sure what I’d been expecting when I picked this up, and as an opener to a series this is a very high quality offering and I will definitely be going back for more.

Sam Blake has definitely won me over, and I can’t wait for book two.

A very assured, slightly slower than expected, but beautifully written 4 stars.


My thanks to Netgalley and Publishers Bonnier Zaffre for providing the ARC of Little Bones. It is available now and can be purchased at the following links.

Amazon UK


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