Small Town Mayhem Makes ‘Forgotten Bones’ A Compelling Read [REVIEW]

skull

A car accident leads to the discovery of a young boy’s body in Vivian Barz’s Forgotten Bones. (Photo courtesy Canva)

A young cop. A schizophrenic professor. The grave of a small boy. When these three elements intersect, it leads to a string of clues and a bigger mystery than anyone ever suspects. But will they be able to solve the case before an old malice catches up with them? Find out in Vivian Barz’s addictive new novel, Forgotten Bones. 

Vivian Barz's FORGOTTEN BONES

Thomas & Mercer

When Officer Susan Marlan is called out to a car accident in the middle of nowhere, she’s pretty sure she knows what happened, even if the couple involved in the incident isn’t talking. That is, until the guy from the electric company shows her his discovery: the body of a young boy buried at the base of an utility pole. Although it seems likely that the recently paroled sex offender who owns the property is the killer, Susan has a sneaky suspicion that the real answers go much deeper than that.

Meanwhile, college geology professor Eric Evans is seeing things. This is nothing new, of course. After all, Eric has seen things for years. He’s schizophrenic, and it comes with the territory, although up until recently he’s managed to keep his disease in check with medication. But life has been stressful ever since he caught his wife and brother having a very intimate tête-à-tête in a small yuppy cafe. Now new hallucinations keep appearing—like the young boy in overalls—which is especially weird since the very things he’s seeing are clues in Susan’s murder case.

As the case unfolds, the Feds and local authorities are quick to make assumptions, eager as they are to throw away the key. But Susan isn’t convinced and turns to Eric for help. Together, they collaborate on a case that goes from sad to horrifying at an alarming rate. Now they just have to sort through Eric’s visions and catch the monster responsible.

Forgotten Bones marks the beginning of Vivian Barz’s Dead Remaining series, one that I am eager to watch develop. I say this for a few reasons. First, she has a knack for writing engaging characters who are flawed but authentic, and this endears them to us as a result. In particular, I found myself truly liking schizophrenic professor Eric Evans (who admittedly seems inspired by Eric McCormack’s character from the television show Perception, Daniel Pierce). She approaches his mental illness with honesty and empathy rather than turning him into a caricature of the disease. As such, she makes us readers see that people who suffer from this type of malady can still be productive members of society and lends a sense of normalcy to his condition, which I truly applaud.

Second, I love Barz’s humor that is peppered throughout the story. I know many people refuse to read books where children are harmed because this can make for a very dark story some readers would rather not look at too closely. And yet, the author never gets too caught up in the nitty gritty details when describing disturbing events and scenes (although don’t expect her to take the rated PG approach that Mary Higgins Clark does in her novels). Even so, the darkness is assuaged with loads of comic relief, and many of her passages and descriptions had me laughing out loud and commiserating with even her most unlikable characters at times. This was a fact that made me keep reading even when the unsavory elements had their share of “screen time.”

Finally, I loved the eerie small town mystery that Barz has a true knack for writing. The pages almost seem to turn themselves as we investigate the shadowy corners of Perrick, a community which for its size is rife with secrets. Having lived in small towns, though, I know that this isn’t always a stretch, and that even the most charming little hamlets can be hotbeds of crime and other bad deeds. So everything here is plausible, and thus the blend of characterization, humor and small town mayhem makes for a thrilling beach read many readers will undoubtedly devour in one sitting.

If Max Allan Collins and Heather Graham had a baby, her name would be Vivian Barz. Like them, her writing is haunting, compelling, and fraught with danger. And while she may be new on thriller enthusiasts’ radar, she will soon become a household name, of that I’m certain. If you like mysteries that push boundaries and leave no stone unturned, you’re going to love Forgotten Bones. 

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Vivian Barz

Vivian Barz
(Photo by TK)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vivian Barz grew up on a farm in a small Northern California town of less than three thousand people. With plenty of fresh air and space to let her imagination run wild, she began penning mysteries at a young age.

One of Barz’s earliest works, a story about a magical scarecrow with a taste for children’s blood, was read to her third-grade class during show-and-tell. It received mixed reviews.  Vivian kept writing, later studying English and film and media studies from the University of California, Irvine.

She now resides in Los Angeles, where she is always working on her next screenplay and novel. Barz also writes under the pen name Sloan Archer.

Visit Vivian at her home on the Web at VivianBarz.com and follow her on Instagram.

FORGOTTEN BONES
By Vivian Barz
302 pp. Thomas & Mercer. $24.95

Little Bird PublicityPurchase Forgotten Bones at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

Forgotten Bones is brought to you in association with Little Bird Publicity.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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