A Bedlam of Bones

Written by Suzette A. Hill
Review by Kristen Hannum

This mystery is the latest in a series, Bones in the Belfry, A Load of Old Bones, Bone Idle, and Bones in High Places being the earlier installments. The books have a charming premise: some chapters are told from the points of view of the protagonist reverend’s dog and cat, Bouncer and Maurice. There’s a dead-on Miss Marple British village setting complete with eccentric characters, and the author’s style is cheeky, chirpy, and witty. Hill also has created a nice plot, a tale of a blackmailed bishop amidst treacle tarts, waistcoats, and buggery.

I finished it with some relief, weary of feeling perplexed about what was going on. I have read a fair amount of British fiction, but this was hard work. The glib repartee here is evidently graduate-level British English, and it turns out I’m a dull American sophomore. More confounding yet was that instead of a back story the book has 25 footnotes. “First mentioned in A Load of Old Bones,” “Dumont appears in Bones in High Places,” “See A Load of Old Bones.” I puzzled over the story’s era; my guess is the 1930s. The reverend drives an old Singer. Maybe the ’50s. It was as though the first third – or more – of the book was missing. See Bones in the Belfry indeed.