The Bone Garden [Secure]
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by Tess Gerritsen
Description: 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.
eBook Publisher: Random House, Inc./Ballantine Books,
Filament eBookStore Release Date: October 2007
36 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [607 KB]
All formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTIONS: Available to customers in: US, PR, VI, UM What's this
SO THIS IS HOW a marriage ends, thought Julia Hamill as she rammed the shovel into the soil. Not with sweet whispers goodbye, not with the loving clasp of arthritic hands forty years from now, not with children and grandchildren grieving around her hospital bed. She lifted a scoop of earth and flung it aside, sending rocks clattering onto the growing mound. It was all clay and stones, good for growing nothing except blackberry canes. Barren soil, like her marriage, from which nothing long lasting, nothing worth holding on to, had sprouted.
She stamped down on the shovel and heard a clang, felt the concussion slam up her spine as the blade hit a rock—a big one. She repositioned the blade, but even when she attacked the rock at different angles, she could not pry it loose. Demoralized and sweating in the heat, she stared down at the hole. All morning she had been digging like a woman possessed, and beneath her leather gloves blisters were peeled open. Julia's digging had stirred up a cloud of mosquitoes that whined around her face and infiltrated her hair.
There was no way around it: If she wanted to plant a garden in this spot, if she wanted to transform this weed-choked yard, she had to keep at it. This rock was in her way.
Suddenly the task seemed hopeless, beyond her puny efforts. She dropped the shovel and slumped to the ground, rump landing on the stony pile of dirt. Why had she ever thought she could restore this garden, salvage this house? She looked across the tangle of weeds and stared at the sagging porch, the weathered clapboards. Julia's Folly—that's what she should name the place. Bought when she hadn't been thinking straight, when her life was collapsing. Why not add more flotsam to the wreckage? This was to be a consolation prize for surviving her divorce. At thirty-eight years old, Julia would finally have a house in her own name, a house with a past, a soul. When she had first walked through the rooms with the real estate agent, and had gazed at the hand-hewn beams, spied the bit of antique wallpaper peeking through a tear in the many layers that had since covered it, she'd known this house was special. And it had called to her, asking for her help.
"The location's unbeatable," the agent had said. "It comes with nearly an acre of land, something you seldom find anymore this close to Boston."
"Then why is it still for sale?" Julia had asked.
"You can see what bad shape it's in. When we first got the listing, there were boxes and boxes of books and old papers, stacked to the ceiling. It took a month for the heirs to haul it all away. Obviously, it needs bottom-up renovations, right down to the foundation."
"Well, I like the fact that it has an interesting past. It wouldn't put me off buying it."
The agent hesitated. "There's another issue I should tell you about. Full disclosure."
"The previous owner was a woman in her nineties, and—well, she died here. That makes some buyers a bit squeamish."
"In her nineties? Of natural causes, then?"
"That's the assumption."
Julia had frowned. "They don't know?"
"It was summertime. And it took almost three weeks before one of her relatives discovered…" The agent's voice trailed off. Suddenly she brightened. "But hey, the land alone is special. You could tear down this whole place. Get rid of it and start fresh!"
The way the world gets rid of old wives like me, Julia had thought. This splendid, dilapidated house and I both deserve better.
That same afternoon, Julia had signed the purchase agreement.
Now, as she slumped on the mound of dirt, slapping at mosquitoes, she thought: What did I get myself into? If Richard ever saw this wreck, it would only confirm what he already thought of her. Gullible Julia, putty in a Realtor's hands. Proud owner of a junk heap.
She swiped a hand over her eyes, smearing sweat across her cheek. Then she looked down at the hole again. How could she possibly expect to get her life in order when she couldn't even summon the strength to move one stupid rock?
She picked up a trowel and, leaning into the hole, began to scrape away dirt. More of the rock emerged, like an iceberg's tip whose hidden bulk she could only guess at. Maybe big enough to sink the Titanic. She kept digging, deeper and deeper, heedless of the mosquitoes and the sun glaring on her bare head. Suddenly the rock symbolized every obstacle, every challenge that she'd ever wobbled away from.
Copyright © 2007 by Tess Gerritsen.