Review: Kathryn Fox – Skin and Bone

Participating the Australian Women Writers Challenge is an interesting experince as we don’t have a huge amount of Australian crime fiction written by women published in the UK. This means that I can’t pick and choose as I ordinarily would but have to read books out of my comfort zone. One author who is easily found here is Kathryn Fox, a medical practitioner who writes books in the forensic genre. It’s not a type of book that I normally buy although I have read Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reichs in the past. I chose Skin and Bone for no other reason than the plot summary seemed to be the least gory of the blurbs.

A dead woman is found badly burned in a house fire and post-mortem evidence suggests that she has recently given birth. There is no evidence of the missing baby and Detective Kate Farrer who has recently returned from sick leave has to try to identify the mother to solve the mystery of the baby’s disappearance. After a few days, however, she and her new partner, Oliver Parke, are pulled from the case and assigned to investigate the disappearance of the daughter of wealthy parents. As they delve deeper into the apparent abduction, the two cases begin to merge and the detectives plunge into a complex web of relationships.

I found the book a straightforward read. The plotting is good and the idea of a female detective with a partner who is the father to five children was a nice idea. The writer obviously knows a great deal about forensic medicine and the descriptions of death by fire were fairly gruesome but written about in a knowledgable way. Fox writes well about family relationships and there were some quite interesting dynamics going on in the book, particularly in relation to the stepfather-stepdaughter relationship.

I thought some of the writing a bit pedestrian although the book is clearly written for a specific audience who I imagine like a fast and engrossing read. I would have preferred a bit more depth to the book because I found the subject matter interesting. But considering it is a genre I don’t normally approach, I enjoyed it and it was nice to read something outside my comfort zone.

The book has been reviewed at Eurocrime and Reactions to Reading.