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by Nalini Singh
Berkley Books, February 2021
384 pages
ISBN: 0593099109

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Aarav Rai comes from money but, as a famous young murder mystery writer, he has his own millions. He grew up in a wealthy enclave in New Zealand where the dense forest constantly threatens to overtake the manicured lawns. He finds himself back at home after a major car accident that has left him on crutches and with memory loss and potentially additional brain damage. Throughout Quiet in her Bones, both Aarav and his neurologist struggle to determine the edges of that damage.

The privileges of the rich did not bring Aarav a happy childhood. His powerful father and beautiful mother, both Indian immigrants, had an explosively intense relationship exacerbated by heavy drinking, infidelities, and yes, money. That is, right up until ten years ago, when his mother disappeared along with a quarter of a million dollars -- pocket change in her world.

When we meet Aarav, he is recuperating at his fatherís home. His motherís car and remains are found hidden in the bush, bringing back sketchy memories of the night she disappeared. Aarav loved his mother deeply, and as he discovers that her death was not an accident, he is compelled to find her murderer and bring them to justice.

A remembered scream from the night his mother disappeared is the "evidence" he starts with as he looks deeply into the background of the owners in the exclusive cul-de-sac. As he digs deeper, some memories return, others are lost, and the details of what heís finding swirl and circle around him as his ability to process the information seems to shift. Secrets abound as Aarav attempts to hone in on the killer and as it becomes clear that the police are beginning to suspect him of the murder.

Author Nalini Singh manages to place us in Aaravís head, where we feel the confusion and disorientation heís experiencing, as well as his self-doubts. Aarav considers himself a sociopath, and perhaps he is, but he is a well-drawn, complex, sympathetic character. Characterization is a strong element in the book, as each of the cul-de-sacís residents comes under Aaravís scrutiny.

This is a tightly plotted thriller and, while the reader might not anticipate the outcome, by the time the resolution becomes clear a careful reader will realize that there have been hints. The internal logic of the mystery makes sense. Singh's beautiful writing about the dense New Zealand forest is evocative, making it entirely realistic that a body could have been hidden for so long.

Quiet in her Bones is a debut novel, and I will be watching for future books by Singh.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, March 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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