I was reading the entry for Raincoat of Horror and it suddenly made me remember a book I read in the last year or two, around 2022-2023, I think as an ebook from the library. I'm going to look through my history, but I'm also posting here whole my memory holds strong. The protagonist is male, I think Caucasian, and may be ex-military or ex-police. He's just come back to his family home because he received a letter that his younger brother is "coming home". His brother disappeared when they were teenagers in high school and the crime was unsolved. I believe his father and the family maidservant were at the house now, which may have been in the southern United States. When he gets there, he learns that bones are being delivered, one by one, on the porch, and his father has been reassembling the skeleton in a coffin.

The protagonist sets to trying to solve his brothers disappearance, his failure to do so in his youth having been part of what drove him away from home. We learn that the protagonist apparently slept with a number of older married women in the town as a teenager, which suggests that maybe his brother was killed by a jealous husband as revenge by proxy. His brother was also a talented photographer, and the idea is floated that maybe he took a picture of something he wasn't supposed to see. Other plot threads include a husband who everyone knows is abusing his family, a reclusive woman who spies on the town with her telescopes and writes about the townspeople in journals where she maps them to birds, the ostensible reason for the telescopes and binoculars, and a disfigured and disgraced police detective who now acts as a private investigator. Oh, and there was a love interest, a young woman who'd held a crush on him since early in their school years, and has a bad habit of assaulting him when she runs into him (shin kicks back then, I think a groin strike now that she's older). There was also a small plot point of a woman holding seances at the local lodge, the contents of which suggest that the dead younger brother is trying to reach out to him and give clues.

At some point, his brother's backpack is found, nearby an excavated grave in the forest, and either the sheriff or his deputy hide it (in a wood pile?), I think with their internal monologue indicating they think it will reveal the police back then as incompetent. I think a yellow rain slicker is also found there, which becomes a plot point because only one store in town sold them, and almost exclusively to tourists. Lastly, I think it's revealed partway through the book that the vibes their father was receiving are actually from two different skeletons.

He does ultimately find the killer:

It's a childhood friend, I think the deputy, who's been helping with the investigation. I think the motivation involved a picture of said friend in the high school locker room which revealed him to be weak (I think after the protagonist pushed or punched him?), and the initial attack in the woods was just meant to scare him but I think he fell and hit his head, and the friend panicked and finished the job with a shovel before burying him.

1 Answer 1


Ah, and paging through my borrowed books, I apparently read it in November of 2022, a few dozen books ago. Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell.

In the northern California town of Coventry, two teenage brothers go into the woods one day, but only one comes back. No one knows what happened to the younger brother, Josh, until twenty years later, when the older brother, Oren, now an ex-investigator for the Army CID, returns to Coventry for the first time in many years. His first morning back, he hears a thump on the front porch. Lying in front of the door is a human jawbone, the teeth still intact. And it is not the first such object, his father tells him. Other remains have been left there as well. Josh is coming home . . . bone by bone.

Using all his investigative skills, Oren sets out to solve the mystery of his brother's murder, but Coventry is a town full of secrets and secret-keepers: the housekeeper with the fugitive past, the deputy with the old grudge, the reclusive ex-cop from L.A., the woman with the title of town monster, and, not least of all, Oren himself. But the greatest secret of all belonged to his brother, and it is only by unraveling it that Oren can begin to discover the truth that has haunted them all for twenty years.

I've read a number of O'Connell's Kathleen Mallory books, so that's probably how I got referred to it. I totally got the setting wrong. Kind of glad now that I didn't include in the question my certainty that it was named Box of Bones, but Bone by Bone is close-ish.

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