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The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
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The Bone Garden (2007)

by Tess Gerritsen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,895823,619 (3.83)69
  1. 30
    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (rbtanger)
    rbtanger: The Bone Garden is set a decade earlier than alias Grace, but the atmosphere and feel of the story are very similar.
  2. 10
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (Othemts)
  3. 21
    The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl (Othemts)
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Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Serviceable mystery, with a little medical history and pretend real people (Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr) thrown in. Dubious coincidences marred the story (you don't need that shit, authors!), but an enjoyable quick read. ( )
  jjaylynny | Nov 12, 2016 |
The novel starts off in present day when a women finds the remains of a skeleton in her garden. This prompts her to investigate the mystery behind those remains. Most of the story takes place as a flashback to Boston in 1830. Rose Connolly is with her sister, who is giving birth. Rose’s sister dies of childbirth fever. Afterward, Rose takes the baby, who is highly sought after. Meanwhile, there are several murders being committed by the West End Reaper. Rose turns to Norris Marshall, a young medical students, who is suspected to be the murderer. The murders all seem to revolve around the baby, who Rose goes to great length to protect.

There are a lot of things to like about this novel. The mystery is very solid. The characters are interesting and well-developed. The writing is tight and professional and there is a great deal of tension in the novel. For me the two negatives were that much like other novels that I have read which flip between past and present, where the story entirely happens in the past, the present is completely useless. That part can be entirely removed from the book and it wouldn’t miss a beat. It wasted space and my time. The other negative was that when the reveals were made at the end, the coincidences in the story were so utterly ridiculous to be groan-inducing. It went beyond stretching the bounds of believability. Those things aside, it was an enjoyable novel.

Carl Alves – author of Conjesero ( )
  Carl_Alves | Jun 19, 2016 |
Julia Hamill bought a house contrary to advice, solicited and unsolicited, of others. All she wanted to do was plant a garden. This required some digging, heavy work she was not accustomed to. And now she had found a body. True, the realtor selling her the house had warned her of rumors that she might hear about the history of the house. A ninety-year-old woman, the previous owner, had died in the house and her body hadn’t been discovered for several weeks. Surely this was not her body. So who was buried here?

Mystery one was quickly solved. The body came complete with a ring that dated the body to around 1840. Still, who was it? Chapter two takes us back to 1830 and the book continues organizationally in this fashion. Chapters alternate in time telling a story in the past and in the present. The story in the past presents us with a mystery to solve. Who is the West End Reaper? People are being killed seemingly systematically. The story plays out in a medical environment that involves doctors struggling with new ideas, students struggling to be doctors, and grave robbers struggling to supply bodies for study by the medical community.

The story of grave robbers both as individuals and as an occupation is fascinating and gruesome. The reader might agree with a basic tenet that bodies are needed for anatomical study. It should be easy to see the questions that will occur. Where do you get the bodies? Obviously from the graves, but what happens when supply is scarce and demand is high? How about from the poor and homeless population? Nobody would really miss them, it would be a kindness to relieve them of an existence of suffering, and medical research would advance. There is the nasty problem of a criminal act, not to mention that such killing would be at least immoral.

Dr. Crouch is a mentor doctor in charge of four central character medical students, one a notable historical figure, Oliver Wendell Holmes. More important than Holmes is student Norris Marshall, a romantic interest for Rose as well as a necessary helper. Rose, Aurnia, and Margaret are the center pieces of conflict in the novel. Aurnia is disposed of easily, she dies in childbirth in the first few pages. Rose is a definition of abject poverty. She can’t rely on brother-in-law Eben. Prior to Aurnia’s death Rose had worked as a seamstress at Eben’s tailor shop, but after Rose discovered the avarice and sense of ownership of all things that had belonged to Aurnia on the part of Eben, she knew continuing employment with him was no longer a possibility.

Any guesses as to where Aurnia’s body will end up? Rose wants to care for her sister Aurnia’s newborn, saving the baby from a life in a government home. Rose has no faith in systems, government or medical. The doctors had not listened to her when she told them to stop bleeding Aurnia and Aurnia had died. She was not going to let the baby die from governmental neglect. The problem was Eben, Aurnia’s husband. He saw the baby as the property of Aurnia along with everything else Aurnia had prior to her death, such as a necklace she had given Rose. Eben wanted the baby but wanted the necklace more. Why?

In the present, the identity of the skeleton Julia found was not difficult. Hilda had died and left behind several boxes, close to a hundred, of documents, pictures, and news clippings. The stories in this novel will be related as the elements are discovered. There are also accounts of the daily lives that people of different classes lived during the 1800s. This novel explores the horrible poverty, filthy hygiene (out of economic necessity), resistance to new medical ideas (bleeding, really), and crime developed around a grave robbing industry of the 1800s. And there is almost a romance. There are also some really startling surprises that make the book well worth reading.

And finally, there is a tie-in to present day medicine. This is not a spoiler, so if you want to follow this up even prior to beginning reading, feel free. This novel has a great, and factually true, great last line. Going to it first will not affect your enjoyment of the book. ( )
  ajarn7086 | Jun 19, 2016 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12556453 ( )
  jldhuse | Jun 7, 2016 |
The main part of this story is set in 1830's Boston. Rose Connolly's sister dies of child bed fever. Rose takes her sisters daughter Meggie and has to protect her from the West End Reaper who seems to be killing everyone connected to Meggie's birth. The remainder of the book is set in the present day where Julia discovers bones in her garden dating from the 1830's which eventually leads her to Rose's story. Some of the medical information was overly gory and I thought the end of the book was rather silly. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tess Gerritsenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jäger, AndreasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Virva, MikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
In memory of Ernest Brune Tom, who always
taught me to reach for the stars
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March 20, 1888
Dearest Margaret,
I thank you for your kind condolences, so sincerely offered, for the loss of my darling Amelia.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A gruesome secret is about to be unearthed ...When a human skull is dug up in a garden near Boston, Dr Maura Isles is called in to investigate. She quickly discovers that the skeleton - that of a young woman - has been buried for over a hundred years. But who was the young woman? And how did she die? It is the 1830s, and an impoverished medical student, Norris Marshall, is forced to procure corpses in order to further his studies in human anatomy. It's a gruesome livelihood that will bring him into contact with a terrifying serial killer who slips from ballrooms to graveyards and into autopsy suites. And who is far, far closer than Norris could ever imagine...

A gruesome secret is about to be unearthed.

When a human skull is dug up in a garden near Boston, Dr Maura Isles is called in to investigate. She quickly discovers that the skeleton - that of a young woman - has been buried for over a hundred years. But who was the woman? And how did she die?

It is the 1930s, and an impoverished medical student, Norris Marshall, is forced to procure corpses in order to further his studies in human anatomy.

It's a gruesome livelihood that will bring him into contact with a terrifying serial killer who slips from ballrooms to graveyards and into autopsy suites.

And who is far, far closer than Norris could ever imagine.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345497619, Mass Market Paperback)

Unknown bones, untold secrets, and unsolved crimes from the distant past cast ominous shadows on the present in the dazzling new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil–human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. But whoever this nameless woman was, and whatever befell her, is knowledge lost to another time. . . .

Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, Norris Marshall, a talented but penniless student at Boston Medical College, has joined the ranks of local “resurrectionists”–those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market. Yet even this ghoulish commerce pales beside the shocking murder of a nurse found mutilated on the university hospital grounds. And when a distinguished doctor meets the same grisly fate, Norris finds that trafficking in the illicit cadaver trade has made him a prime suspect.

To prove his innocence, Norris must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer: Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress from the Boston slums who fears she may be the next victim. Joined by a sardonic, keenly intelligent young man named Oliver Wendell Holmes, Norris and Rose comb the city–from its grim cemeteries and autopsy suites to its glittering mansions and centers of Brahmin power–on the trail of a maniacal fiend who lurks where least expected . . . and who waits for his next lethal opportunity.

With unflagging suspense and pitch-perfect period detail, The Bone Garden deftly interweaves the thrilling narratives of its nineteenth- and twenty-first century protagonists, tracing the dark mystery at its heart across time and place to a finale as ingeniously conceived as it is shocking. Bold, bloody, and brilliant, this is Tess Gerritsen’s finest achievement to date.

"An old mystery is crossed with a modern story in the latest from Gerritsen (The Mephisto Club, 2006, etc.).Julia Hamill, newly divorced and still smarting, purchases an old house outside Boston. Determined to dig a garden, she instead finds the bones of a long-dead woman–the apparent victim of murder–which starts her on a journey to ferret out the story behind her death. Julia connects with Henry, a no-nonsense 89-year-old with boxes of documents that once belonged to the now-deceased previous owner of Julia’s home. The two discover a mystery dating back to the 1830s. At the heart of it is a baby named Meggie, born to the beautiful but doomed Irish chambermaid, Aurnia. Married to a man who cares nothing for her, Aurnia lays dying in a maternity ward with her sister, Rose, at her side. Rose, a spirited 17-year-old, takes Meggie to protect her from Aurnia’s husband, but soon finds herself the target of a bizarre manhunt. Someone is after the child–and Rose, as well, because she witnessed a horrifying murder. The body count piles up as Rose struggles to remain free of those who would take Meggie from her. Meanwhile, a young medical student becomes the chief suspect of the West End Reaper killings when he stumbles onto another terrible homicide. Although he fights the prospect, eventually he and Rose join forces to solve the murders and protect the baby at the heart of the mysterious deaths. Readers with delicate stomachs may find Gerritsen’s graphic descriptions of corpse dissection hard to take, but the story, which digs up a dark Boston of times long past, entices readers to keep turning pages long after their bedtimes."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred)


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Julia Hamill is gardening one afternoon in rural Massachusetts when her spade strikes something soft and unyielding - not a rock but a human skull. Medical examiner, Maura Isles quickly determines that the skeleton - that of a woman - dates back to the early 1800s. 'But too much time has passed,' Maura warns Julia. 'We may never know the whole story of how she died.' Boston in the 1830s is a place of disease and pestilence - and no one is more aware of this than Norris Marshall, a student at Harvard Medical School who is forced to support himself by performing the most secretive job of all. Norris is a resurrectionist - a body-snatcher - who procures cadavers from grave robbers in order to further his study of human anatomy. Soon he finds himself hunting the most notorious killer of his time, a shadowy figure who flits through graveyards and glittering ballrooms. What he does not realize is that the killer is far closer than he thinks.… (more)

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