My review:Bone White
Within this town lurk a killer but first meet two people that meet their fate when the hangman’s noose is placed around each of their necks. While their two children watch them as the nooses are released and their necks broken, Jeremiah, the older son is now the man of the family and has to take care of his sister. In the present Emerson Mundy travels to Mundy’s Landing hoping to connect with her past and meet some of her long lost relatives. But, her search will take her into dark places as her fiancé Roy stalks her and follows her every move treating her as his main possession. Meet Ora Adams who’s the director of the museum and who at first glance seems off balance especially her driving skills. Enlisting the help of a young girl named Savannah she wants her to identity a Jane Doe Skull that she has been harboring for many years. The Jane Doe has either been murdered or something else and even though the skull is hundreds of years old for some reason she wants to know the history of the person and the cause of death.
Detective Sullivan Leary solved the Sleeping Beauty Murders and has made a new start in life but someone has decided to uncover the past and the secrets behind a disembodied skull and as the summary of the book states is “hacking away at the Mundy Family Tree, branch by branch. When Emerson connects with Sullivan and is introduced to some key people that might help her and is given a book that might identify some long lost relatives things take on a different turn.
Next we hear the voice of the hangman who has struck a noose on a the branches of a tree and is ready to tie it around his/her next victim. The year was 1666; the place, Mundy’s Landing where the bodies fell and the bloodshed began. During this horrific winter, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Crimes were committed or so they thought and James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children lived. So, why were they killed at the start of the novel an accused of murder? Their children had to fend for themselves living in place that hardly accepted them but managed to live out their years having fulfilling lives. Never telling anyone how his or her parents died or did someone know? The promised never to tell anyone. Emerson Mundy is now there hoping to find out what the saying: We Shall Never Tell means and wants to learn about her past and build upon it for the future. But, within this town of Mundy’s Landing she meets some long lost relatives but even more.
While she is searching for ancestors NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary is hoping to find the copycat killer that is mirroring the one in the Sleeping Beauty Murders. Somehow the key might be the skull that Ora wants to learn about and the end result might be some more branches of the Mundy family destroyed. Added her partner Barnes for some reason has been thrown out of his residence and is now living in her home but the secrets about why have yet to be revealed.
Emerson meets Aurora and their encounter is quite eerie as her residence looks and smells quite musty, dirty and her food, mostly molded, not edible yet she eats cat food. Eager to share her information about the historical society and begins explaining Emerson’s family tree, Emerson begins to realize that Aurora is either odd, has dementia or worse. Her housekeeping skills are poor and Emerson is drawn to the stories she tells but learns more when she meets an actual cousin Rowan through Sully. The plot gets thicker and more complicated as we hear and read letters from the children of James and Elizabeth that her hanged and the promise: NEVER TO TELL! Priscilla’s letters are quite telling and the fact that she was taken in by a family, met someone that wants her hand in marriage does not negate the fact that she misses her brother and hopes he will return in the spring.
Things take on a tragic turn when someone called the Hangman decides to take matters into his/her own hands and when Nancy who owns the hotel that Emerson is stating in goes outside to tend to the flowers what she sees hanging from a tree is not a branch, limb, flower or anything belonging to a tree. Someone is hanging from a branch and it appears to be a suicide except it’s not. When Emerson learns the identity of the body she is more than taken aback. Who would hang Roy? Why was he following her? But, she was speaking with Aurora at the time and she too screamed, hit her head and is now unconscious and Emerson is dealing with calling 911. What is really happening in this town? Why do Sully and Nick think its murder? What about Barnes? Why does he keep texting her and what is the secret his not revealing? As the author reveals a childhood relationship between Sully and her grandfather and the word game Hangman. Emerson was just about to learn more about her father and why he might not be according to a rare eye color combination that the Mundy’s all had when Aurora fainted.
While Sully investigates Roy’s death she enlists the help of Barnes and what he finds out sets her off. Not believing that Emerson’s mother died but how and was her death linked to her father’s death and what does Roy’s have to do with it? Were they murdered or was it suicide? With Aurora in the hospital and Emerson meeting with Jake and his wife she learns that she is a Mundy from the start as we learn more about Priscilla and Jeremiah Mundy and their secret involving cannibalism and more.
The threads of her past come full circle as Emerson pieces it together so does Sully and the end result will revert back to the past and why James and Elizabeth were really hanged and why Priscilla and Jeremiah had a secret that they kept for so long. How did everyone survive? Why did Priscilla share part of it with her husband? What really happened to him? When in the present Savannah searches for Aurora and Sully finally connects with her what she learns with the help of Barnes sets her in motion to find a killer? What really happened to Emerson’s mother? What about her relationship with her father? An ending that links both the past and the present as author Wendy Corsi Staub takes readers along with Sully on a final journey of revelations that will change the lives of many people who live in Mundy’s Landing. Think about the past and how people stayed alive. Think about the hangings, the game and the note with the letters with blanks left out. Think about who the real killer is and why there were so many deaths and so many skeletons that were BONE WHITE! What will Sully do now that she knows the truth? What about when Barnes explains why he ran away? What’s next for Sully and will she reconnect with her Barnes? Twists, surprises, fear, betrayals, lies, family histories that were tainted and murders that go way back to the 1600’s. Just whose skull did Aurora have and how does that skull tear about the family true of the Mundy’s?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine