Bone On Bone – Julia Keller


I was fortunate to receive this novel from as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review.

Belfa “Bell” Elkins is a former prosecutor who has just been released from prison after a three-year incarceration for the murder of her abusive father. Now as she completes the conditions of her release, she struggles with her role in the community – a community that struggles mightily with drug addiction. Bell finds herself researching the opioid problem and identifies pharmaceutical companies as a large part of the problem and feels that these corporations should answer to the part they play in the opioid epidemic.

The Toppings family also play a central role in this novel. An upper middle-class family, Brett is a banker. He and his wife Ellie have a son, Tyler, who has struggled mightily with addiction. Just released from rehab, he moves back home with his family, and almost immediately falls prey to the availability of drugs in his community. Through the painful challenges the Toppings family faces, we learn the effects of drug abuse on families, individuals, and indeed, whole communities.

Former Deputy Jake Owens was left paraplegic three years ago after being shot on the job. Now unable to use his legs, he searches for his role, if any, in law enforcement. Sheriff Harrison needs a telecommunicator, and Jake agrees to fill in part time. He is working the night that the cry for help comes in…

This story is told through varied points of view and gives the reader a hard look into the desperation, despair and the intricacies of a family caught up in the opioid epidemic. As Bell and eventually Jake take on ‘big pharma’, this novel twists and turns rapidly, and ultimately surges to a stunning, unexpected conclusion… I can’t WAIT for the next installment of Bell’s story!! My first read by Julia Keller, but certainly not my last!!

The Coroner – Jennifer Graeser Dornbush

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I was fortunate to receive this novel from as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review.

Dr. Emily Hartford is a third-year surgical resident in Chicago and is preparing for a surgical case as this novel opens. It is also her birthday, which she realizes to her surprise, as she’s commuting into work. Upon her arrival, she’s asked to perform an emergent appendectomy, so she tucks her busily ringing phone away. It’s not until later, as her boyfriend is proposing to her, that she checks her messages and learns of her father’s sudden illness. Diamond ring, newly placed on her finger, she packs some things and heads for home.

As Emily approaches Freeport County, her childhood home, she’s hit by a wave of nostalgia, and inadvertently drives through the towns only traffic light. Witnessed by a cop, she’s pulled over, only to see her high school love is the cop in question. They re-connect briefly, and she continues her trip to the hospital, where her father has been diagnosed with a heart attack. Estranged from her medical examiner father for several years after the death of her mother, Emily hopes she can find some common ground with her Dad.

Meanwhile, a young equestrian and daughter of a senator has been found dead after a morning ride, and her horse has been badly injured as well. With the county coroner hospitalized, and the family not wishing for their daughter’s body to be autopsied out of county, Emily is asked to perform the examination. Her discovery points to blunt force trauma, a homicide.

As Nick and Emily join forces to solve Julie’s murder, Emily’s new fiancé remains in Chicago, busy visiting wedding venues and making plans for their marriage. As her frustration with the case grows, she begins to realize that she has unresolved feelings for her first love, along with unresolved questions regarding her mother’s death that she wants answers to…

For a first novel, this book was surprisingly good!! I very much enjoyed Emily’s character and I hope this is a first in a continuing series. I was hooked right from the start and read this book from cover to cover in just a few hours, not wanting to put it down! There were a few medical errors, but likely not detectable to the layperson – of course they may have been corrected prior to print, also. Great story, engaging characters, and well worth the read!!