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When a tree uprooted during a storm reveals the bones of a young woman, DCI Hatherall and partner DI Fiona Williams have the difficult task of picking through decades of secrets and lies to find a killer.
The Skeletons of Birkbury is so unequivocally British, the rural setting of Birkbury and the age-old rivalry between villagers and landowners helps set the scene with its quirky village atmosphere, colorful villagers and an engrossing plot that draws you into the story. The slow, steady pace of the book lulls you into complacency, you barely realize how the suspense grows because you're so drawn into the fabric of the village life. I love how realistic the characters are; DCI Hatherall is an enigmatic investigator with several skeletons in his closet that he's dealing with along with solving the case. I really felt for poor Frank! Still grieving over his wife's death several years prior, he's done things he isn't proud of and when he gets caught in the middle of this decades old murder investigation, you can't help but empathize with him. I loved Joyce's loving loyalty and protection of Frank, even going so far as to search for evidence to exonerate him. It was very sweet and added a real touch of humanity to the story.
The well crafted plot had many misdirections and red herrings that kept me turning pages, and each new clue had me questioning my suspicions. There were so many facets to the plot; not only do they have to untangle the murder of the young woman whose bones were found, but also the suspicious car accidents, one fatal, that are connected to the case. I really enjoyed how well the disappearance of another woman, seen with one of the suspects, dovetailed into the story, and the action packed ending raced to a satisfying conclusion. I was sorry when it all ended.
Overall, The Skeletons of Birkbury is an outstanding entry into the world of DCI Hatherall and I don't hesitate to recommend it for mystery fans to curl up with and spend a few hours