Title: Skin and Bones (Digging Up Bones #2)
Author: T.A. Moore
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: Kristin F
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Digging Up Bones: Book Two
Cloister Witte and his K-9 partner, Bourneville, find the lost and bring them home.
But the job doesn’t always end there.
Janet Morrow, a young trans woman, lies in a coma after wandering away from her car during a storm. But just because Cloister found the young tourist doesn’t mean she’s home. What brought her to Plenty, California… and who didn’t want her to leave?
With the help of Special Agent Javi Merlo, who continues to deny his growing feelings for the rough-edged deputy, Cloister unearths a ten-year-old conspiracy of silence that taps into Plenty’s history of corruption.
Janet Morrow’s old secrets aren’t the only ones coming to light. Javi has tried to put his past behind him, but some people seem determined to pull his skeletons out of the closet. His dark history with a senior agent in Phoenix complicates not just the investigation but his relationship with Cloister.
And since when has he cared about that?
I hadn’t realized two years have passed since Bone to Pick, which will account for some of my confusion over what happened in the first book that the second book built on. With so much time having passed, I would have done a re-read, but I couldn’t fit it in.
I greatly enjoyed this installment. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the K-9 training (for example, I’ve heard female dogs aren’t generally used because they are too protective of their handlers, which can be problematic…), but I loved watching how Cloister interacts with Bourneville (aka, “Bon”). You can see how much he loves her unconditionally and I loved how that came through. She is just as much of a character to the story as Cloister is.
This is not a “romance” in the traditional sense. Ah, so much frustration from our two main characters Javi and Cloister. It was like reading about two porcupines – prickly and cranky as all get out, but still desiring companionship. Javi is carrying emotional scars and works in a job that keep him from getting close to anyone. Cloister is carrying emotional scars from the abduction of his brother when he was young. Neither one wants to get close for fear of getting hurt, but in their own dysfunctional way, they have a relationship of sorts. I have to admit, given the sheer number of saccharine romances that I’ve read, this change totally works for me.
The mystery is somewhat transparent for any avid mystery reader. While I readily figured out the who-done-it, the motivation and climatic reveal remained interesting.
While the plot has moved Javi and Cloister’s relationship forward, it has by no means resolved the détente the two have come to regarding their feelings toward each other. Nor has it resolved Javi’s work situation, which becomes a predominant concern in this book.
Which makes me very hopeful that there will be a book three. I would totally read the next book in the series given the quality of writing and emotional engagement I had with the first two books in the series.