A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My review is part of a “blog tour” for the book.
Following the recent death of her husband, Clare Hills is listless and unsure of her place in the world. When her former university friend Dr David Barbrook asks her to help him sift through the effects of deceased archaeologist Gerald Hart, she sees this as a useful distraction from her grief. During her search, Clare stumbles across the unpublished journals detailing Gerald’s most glittering dig. Hidden from view for decades and supposedly destroyed in an arson attack, she cannot believe her luck. Finding the Hungerbourne Barrows archive is every archaeologist’s dream. Determined to document Gerald’s career-defining find for the public, Clare and David delve into his meticulously kept records of the excavation.
But the dream suddenly becomes a nightmare as the pair unearth a disturbing discovery, putting them at the centre of a murder inquiry and in the path of a dangerous killer determined to bury the truth forever.
“The Hidden Bones” is the debut novel by Nicola Ford and introduces us to our heroine, Clare Hills, a former archaeology student returning to her previous passion after being widdowed.
Clare is a likeable character, she has doubts and uncertainties about her abilities and her way forward in life and these insecurities lend her a three dimensionality that is pleasing. In the early stages of this book she appears unsure and overly cautious as she tries to find her feet after her husbands death and, as the story progresses, she becames more self reliant and confident. Her character progression is pleasing, you find yourself rooting for her as the mystery develops and the danger and tension mounts.
The characters are well rounded and believable and the dialogue between the participants flows smoothly; you get a real sense of the individuals within the plot. Clare is an interesting protagonist with which to spend a few days.
The plotting is well executed and the pacing of the story leaves you eagerly turning the pages. The ending is satisfying, well executed and quite a tense affair; an enjoyable climax to a thrilling read.
Nicola Ford is the pen-name of Dr Nick Snashall, an eminent archaeologist for both The National Trust and the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage sites. Consequently, the novel bristles with authenticity – well, as a reader unaccustomed to life as an archaeologist, it certainly came across as authentic! The setting and descriptions of the dig site and the practices that occur during an excavation are vividly portrayed and these details are woven deftly into the storyline. The author subtly layers her expertise and experience gently into her writing so that you learn enough about the subject to enhance your reading pleasure yet are never swamped by too much unnecessary information that would otherwise the story down and prevent the plot from developing.
I especially enjoyed how the author used the excavation of a previous dig site from forty years earlier to bring immediacy and relevance to their work; I thought this was a very intriguing way of telling her story and it really helped to bring it and the characters to life.
This is a sparkling debut from a new British crime writer and I urge you all to go out dig a copy off the shelves of your nearest bookshop. You can rest assured that you will have unearth an immensely enjoyable read.