Friday, September 27, 2013

Forgotten Books: Bone, Bones and More Bones

Call me a laggard and a bumpkin, but I’ve never read a Patricia Highsmith book. Or a short story, either. But, this being Highsmith Day on FFB, and BONE Week on the Almanack, I felt obliged to pay a little lip service to both.

So here we go.

“Bone” is a buzzword in mystery fiction. It’s a great four-letter way to plant an image in the reader’s mind. Depending on the context (and the reader’s frame of mind), that image might be Death, Decay, Serious Injury, Dread, or (I'm talkin' to you, Doug and Bob) Sex.

Christine Finlayson’s Tip of a Bone is only the latest in a long line of books with Bone or Bones in the title. And while Patricia Highsmith never went that route, she did use the word - at least once - in one of her novels. As proof, here’s a passage from Deep Water (1957):

Mr. Cameron had staring, pale-blue eyes whose smallness contrasted with the bulk of the rest of him. He was not very tall and his head looked square and huge, as if it were made of something other than the usual flesh and bone. 

Amazing, huh?

A little Googling turned up all these books with Bone in the title:

Writer’s Bone - Daniel Woodrell
Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor
Bone and Bread - Saleema Nawaz
The Bone Cage - Angie Abdou
The Bone Thief - Jefferson Bass
The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon
The Bone Bed - Patricia Cornwell
The Bone People - Keri Hulme
The Bone Garden - Tess Gerritsen
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
The Bone Collector - Jeffrey Deaver
What’s Bred in the Bone - Robinson Davies
Rust and Bone - Craig Davidson
Gleam of Bone and Other Stories - Richard Cass
Close to the Bone - Stuart MacBride

And these using the plural:

Bones - Jan Burke
Her Boyfriend’s Bones - Jeanne Matthews
The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones - Jack Wolf
Island of Bones - Imogen Robertson
Them Bones - Howard Waldrop
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
City of Bones - Michael Connelly
Bag of Bones - Stephen King
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
The Maze of Bones - Rick Riordan
Salvage the Bones - Jesmyn Ward
The Farming of Bones - Edwidge Danticat
Doll Bones - Holly Black
Murambi, The Book of Bones - Jennie E. Burnet
Wind and Bones - Kristin Marra
Bones - Edgar Wallace
Servant of the Bones - Anne Rice
Bare Bones, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones are Forever and (whew!) Bones of the Lost - Kathy Reichs

They’re not all mysteries, of course, but Bone and Bones are words everyone can relate to. Have titles to add? Shout ‘em out.

Laggard and bumpkin that I am, I’ve only read one of these books (other than Tip of a Bone, of course). That one is the Harry Bosch novel, City of Bones. Any others you’d recommend?

Forgotten Highsmith (and other) Books at pattinase.

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Jerry House said...

How about Bones: Buried Deep, Max Allan Collins' tie-in to the Bones television series?

George said...

Very cool! I remember Ellen Nehr collected mysteries with bodies in the bath tub. Themed collecting fascinates some people.

Christine said...

I've read ten or so of the "Bone" mysteries from your list... would be interesting to check out the rest and see if the stories actually have bones in them [City of Bones did] -- or if the author/publisher/marketing staff just thought the word would make for a catchy title. Thanks for a fun week dedicated to my book!

Rick Robinson said...

What a great take on the theme of this single author FFB. Wish I'd thought of it.

Evan Lewis said...

Good suggestion, Jerry. A good book, too, no doubt.

Kelly Robinson said...

I'm fond of Stephen Booth's BLIND TO THE BONES. A nice, dense British mystery.


You left out Charlotte Jay's 1953 African-set mystery, BEAT NOT HE BONES, the first book ever to win the MWA's Edgar in the Best Mystery Novel of the Year category.

Evan Lewis said...

Yikes! I'm a bumpkin!

Cap'n Bob said...

The Bone Orchard. I forget who wrote it and I haven't read it.