Pegasus, Jan 15 2008, $25.95
In Newcastle, the body of the mutilated Ashley Malcolm was found in a burial ground. Her eyes and mouth were sewed shut apparently when she still lived and cuts are all over her body. DS Turnbull and DI Nattrass believe her boyfriend Michael Nell killed her, as he has a history of violence against women. Janine Stewart thinks otherwise although she knows her client is a flash tempered lout. She refuses to believe he would perform a ritual killing; if Michael murdered his girlfriend she would be battered not stitched. Michael also claims an alibi.
Janine hires Joe Donovan to affirm Michael's alibi. The case seems simple to Joe until he and his team start tracking the alibi. This leads them to an evil world where vicious thugs run a child-trafficking ring and a prostitution ring with kids as the merchandise. Shook to his core, Joe still wonders what happened to his six-year-old son who vanished three years ago and could have been for sale by these punks. Soon a second death occurs as the serial killing Historian taunts the cops with clues from the city’s heritage.
Though the culprit comes out of serial killer casting, BONE MACHINE is a tense gritty Noir that deeply explores human trafficking to the point that the hero and the Historian are left out much of the first half of tale. Readers who appreciate an extremely dark crime thriller that looks at the evil people do to those vulnerable is interred in their bone marrow will want to read the BONE MACHINE and other Donavan thrillers like MERCY SEAT, not reviewed by me.