EXCERPT: Moonlight glances off the shiny surface of the cobbles worn smooth by the feet of holy men. His own feet slip and clatter as he scrambles through an alley between buttresses, heart squeezed by the hand of desperation. A green bin spins away in the darkness, spilling its decaying contents across the yard. The door ahead of him lies ajar, the corridor beyond bathed in the ghostly light of the moon, angling between tower and apse to slant through frosted glass arches. He sees a sign and a red arrow – Vitraux du Cloitre – and turns the other way, past the sacristy.
The door to the church is open, and he is almost sucked through into the vast, glowing stillness. The stained glass rises all around, its colours turned to black by the dead light of the nearly full moon. His panic fills the vaulted vastness with every painful breath. To his right the statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the Baby Jesus watches impassively, impervious now to the prayers he has offered her so piously over so many years. The neighbouring chapel has been given over to noticeboards pasted with announcements that he will never read.
He hears the footsteps following in his wake, and breath rasping in lungs that are not his own. He flees along the north ambulatory; past the chapel of St Paul, the chapel of St Joseph and the Souls in Purgatory. At the end of the church, ninety silvered organ pipes rise in shining columns to the figure of Christ Resuscitated, flanked by two angels. He wants to scream ‘Help me!’ But he knows they cannot.
He turns beneath the nine metre span of the only remaining screen in all of Paris, a delicate tracery of stone carving and spiral staircase curling around slender columns soaring into blackness, and he stops beneath Christ on the cross, a calvary taken from the chapel of the Ècole Polytechnique to replace a predecessor destroyed during the Revolution. How often he has knelt here, before the altar, to receive His flesh and drink His blood.
He stops here now, and kneels again for one last time, the footsteps almost upon him. And as he rises and turns, the last thing he sees at the far end of the nave, before red turns to black, is a sign commanding him to SILENCE.
ABOUT ‘DRY BONES’ (Enzo #1): What has happened to Jacques Gaillard? The brilliant teacher who trained some of France’s best and brightest at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration as future Prime Ministers and Presidents vanished ten years ago, presumably from Paris. Talk about your cold case.
The mystery inspires a bet, one that Enzo Macleod, a biologist teaching in Toulouse instead of pursuing a brilliant career in forensics back home in Scotland can ill afford to lose. The wager is that Enzo can find out what happened to Jacques Gaillard by applying new science to an old case.
Enzo comes to Paris to meet journalist Roger Raffin, the author of a book on seven celebrated unsolved murders, the assumption being that Gaillard is dead. He needs Raffin’s notes. And armed with these, he begins his quest. It quickly has him touring landmarks such as the Paris catacombs and a chateau in Champagne, digging up relics and bones. Yes, Enzo finds Jacques Gaillard’s head. The artifacts buried with the skull set him to interpreting the clues they provide and to following in someone’s footsteps–maybe more than one someone–after the rest of Gaillard. And to reviewing some ancient and recent history. As with a quest, it’s as much discovery as detection. Enzo proves to be an ace investigator, scientific and intuitive, and, for all his missteps, one who hits his goals including a painful journey toward greater self-awareness.
This book was previously published as Extraordinary People.
MY THOUGHTS: I love Peter May’s writing. He paints vivid pictures with his words. He evokes emotions. He is a master of his craft.
The French setting is attractive to me, and we certainly visit many attractions during the unravelling of the clues. These clues are in the form of physical riddles left by the killer for reasons which do not become clear until the crime is solved. As the reader, I had zero chance of interpreting these clues. They were far too obscure, so I simply settled in and enjoyed the ride. But between Enzo and his student assistant, aided by the Internet and forensics, logic and plain good luck, they triumph.
There is action and suspense along with engaging, if not always likeable characters. The crime itself is both gruesome and bizarre. This is a fast paced thriller with twists and turns that kept me on my toes. I didn’t come anywhere near guessing the identity of the killer.
An enjoyable, challenging read. I already have book 2, The Critic, lined up to read.
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#audiobook #crime #contemporaryfiction #murdermystery #suspense #thriller
THE AUTHOR: Peter May was born on December 20, 1951 in Glasgow, Scotland. Even from a young age, Peter wanted to be a novelist. He started out his writing career in journalism and won his first award, the Fraser Award, in 1973 when he was only 21 years old. For this he was labeled Scotland’s Young Journalist of the Year. Peter completed his first novel at the age of 26 titled The Reporter, which was later adapted to a British television series in 1978 called The Standard. He met his wife, Janice Hally, when he was working on the television series, Take the High Road. They were married in 1990 and are currently residing in France.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Dry Bones (Enzo #1) by Peter May, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Blackstone Audio, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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