MYSTERY

The Diabolical Bones

Berkley. (Brontë Sisters, Bk. 2). Nov. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780593099155. pap. $16. M
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In the second “Brontë Sisters” mystery (following The Vanished Bride), Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë are again acting as detectives, investigating mysterious happenings in their Yorkshire village. Drunk and raving neighbor Clifton Bradshaw has banned the sisters from his house after the discovery of a child’s skeleton walled up in his deceased wife’s quarters. The rooms have been sealed for 13 years, and Bradshaw’s son, Liston, manages to spirit the remains to the Brontës. When a friend of the family, a woman with some medical knowledge, determines that the child was malnourished and ill, the sisters suspect murder. Often chaperoned reluctantly by their brother, Branwell, the sisters interview weavers, witches, and orphans to learn more about Bradshaw’s secrets. Charlotte, dazzled by the tempestuous and daring Lady Catherine, is also blind to her new friend’s willful ways and dark motivations. All three sisters put themselves in danger as they try to stop the unknown monster preying upon local children.
VERDICT Ellis does a great job re-creating the village of Haworth, England, and its peoples, hinting how the daily lives of the Brontës might have inspired their most well-known works. A diverting read for fans of literary detective fiction.

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