Old Bones: A Detective Sarah Alt Novel

Putnam. Feb. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780399167270. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698140714. M
In this timely series entry (after Out of the Blues), Boyce sets her resilient protagonist in the middle of a protest gone sideways. At the predominantly black Spelman College in Atlanta, where students have gathered to call for police reform, a shooting disrupts what was otherwise a peaceful march, sending civilians and law enforcement running for cover—and answers. Alt is tasked with another investigation when the decomposed body of a young woman is found, and it's discovered that she's someone whom Alt arrested a few years earlier. Feeling responsible for finding out what happened to the girl, Alt throws everything she has into what has "cold case" written all over it, until she's called up to assist with the riots that have suddenly broken out following the shooting at Spelman. Boyce, who was an Atlanta cop for 30 years before turning to writing, captures the roiling tension of a city in turmoil. Alt, for all her power as a detective with an admirable moral compass, can only do so much toward fixing such systemic injuries.
VERDICT In addition to being a fast-paced crime story with an empathetic, feisty lead, Boyce's latest also offers a meditation on violence and institutional racism.
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