Bad To The Bone opens with the discovery of human remains in a wood. DI James Bliss and DC Penny Chandler are assigned to the investigation. Bliss decides to seek the expertise of Emily Grant AKA The Bone Woman who is a local anthropologist to obtain more information about the bones to understand whether this is a recent or historical death. It is clear early on that this final resting place for the human remains is only recent and that she resided somewhere else in the city for many years prior.
What I really enjoyed about this book is the mix between a current investigation and a cold case – the bones found in the woods opens up lines of enquiry that none of the investigative team could have predicted and at times, puts them in a difficult position. As a result of the main plot and the linked sub-plots, Bad To The Bone is full of twists and turns as more and more secrets are unearthed.
This is a great debut from Forder, a solid opening book of a new police procedural series. Forder has created well-rounded main characters – I warmed to Bliss immediately with his non-nonsense approach and also his rapport with his partner, DC Chandler. We learn very early on that Bliss is haunted by his previous murder investigation which has resulted in very difficult relationship with Superintendent Sykes, Bliss’ boss so the narrative between these two opposing strong characters is a great read. As if this isn’t enough, Bliss is also dealing with some personal demons. A fabulous, troubled protagonist!
Bad To The Bone is set in my hometown of Peterborough and Forder’s research into the city both in the present and its past is fantastic – from individual places, links between places and the descriptions of the buildings featured in the novel. I recognised all the locations and this really brought the novel to life for me.