As VALLEY OF BONES opens, a body drops out of the sky right before
Miami patrolman Tito Morales's eyes. A quick glance up, and the
hotel room it fell from is obvious. Morales calls it in, but it
takes precious little police work to snatch up the apparent killer.
She's sitting in the victim's room, her prints on the murder
weapon. How much easier could it get?
Detective Jimmy Paz catches the case. Thinking it might be a
slam-dunk, he interviews suspect Emmylou Dideroff, hoping to close
the file in record time. But something tells him that it's going to
get complicated. It does. Emmylou offers to write her "confessions"
if he will supply her with four lined notebooks. What she puts down
is her life story, from her beginnings as an abused child, to her
survival on the mean streets, to her fortuitous meeting of the
Nursing Sisters of the Blood of Christ. Her writing gives the
authorities great insight and more information than they really
need. But it seems that the cops aren't the only ones interested in
Dr. Lorna Wise, a psychologist studying Emmylou's case, declares
her incapable of aiding in her own defense. Reading her patient's
daily installments, Dr. Wise finds little reason that someone would
ransack her house to get their hands on them, so it shocks her when
a man forcefully wrests one of the notebooks from her. She hooks up
with Detective Paz to work through the mystery. But there may be
more to their relationship than mere business.
Paz, a reputed ladies' man, prides himself on knowing a little bit
about a lot of things, having attended the "University of Girl." Is
the student now about to graduate? On the heels of one rejection,
he rebounds into Lorna's arms. Fortunately, they work well together
--- on more than one level.
Unraveling the clues to find the solution takes a bit of
concentration and a willingness to open your mind to some
otherworldly ideas. Emmylou seems to have an angel guiding her at
times; at others, she seems influenced by the devil. Jimmy and
Lorna try a Cuban mystical ritual one night, not really believing
it will help, but what harm could it do? And all three of them
apparently see visions not of this Earth.
A compelling writer, Michael Gruber has tackled a tough current
issue, for it appears that oil lust is at the heart of the murder.
He takes a hard look at what people do in the competition for oil.
Whether you believe it's at the core of some of today's world
problems or not, he lays out a convincing case.
While I enjoyed the book, I felt it was a bit overlong. Emmylou's
"confessions" rambled at times and the switchbacks between her life
story and the investigation could be somewhat off-putting. That
small complaint aside, VALLEY OF BONES is a page-turner.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 24, 2011