River Bones

Sara Mason Mysteries Book One

Fiction - Thriller - General
327 Pages
Reviewed on (not set)
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Author Biography

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers’ references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor. She is currently writing the third story in her Sara Mason series, as well as a long romance novel, which is a new genre for her.
She has traveled a great deal and has a lifetime of diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California’s Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also an oil painter and photographer. Her art is used to create gorgeous personal and household products from her online galleries.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

River Bones, Book One in the Sara Mason Mysteries by Mary Deal is an enthralling tale that will have the reader on the edge of their seat. Sara returned to her hometown after many years of not wanting to face a tragedy that took away the lives of her parents and sister. And while her childhood friend, Daphine, is upbeat about her being home in the Sacramento River Delta, she is not so enthusiastic about Sara’s new house. Sara has been reading news online about the elusive serial killer who strangles victims and buries them with an animal. The authorities can’t determine the motive behind the killings and this slows down the investigation.

Sara has the unsettling feeling that she is being followed. When skeletal remains are discovered near her property and later on her property, Sara is asked to move somewhere else. Sara’s life is in danger from a killer who seems to be out to get her. When she finds clues that could lead to the killer, she offers to join the investigation and that’s how she ends up being where she shouldn’t be, with the killer's hands around her neck. Is there a way out for her or will she become just another victim?

Mary Deal establishes herself as a mistress of the genre and her novels should occupy a prominent place on the bookshelves alongside works of Daniel Silva and Michael C. Grumley. Deal has a unique narrative style, a compelling voice, and a gift for character that brings to life characters that are psychologically and emotionally rich, and plots that are conflict-driven and gripping. Offering readers a thrill a minute, each page packed with the emotion that rubs off on the reader; in a word, River Bones is terrific.

Kim Anisi

River Bones by Mary Deal is the first book in the Sara Mason Mysteries. Sara, who once did not have much and wasn't super popular during her time at school, has turned into a rather successful woman who doesn't boast about her money though. She has made quite a fortune by creating computer games and used some of that money to buy a mansion in her old home town. The place needs a lot of work - and apparently a ghost lives in it. That's the least of Sara's concerns, however, because the region is also haunted by a very real serial killer who buries his victims all over the place. Nobody has a clue who it is. And suddenly Sara seems to have caught his interest.

River Bones by Mary Deal is not a book I finished in a short time (if you have a few hours in a row, you probably could), and I enjoyed that it took me a few evenings to get to the end. It was a pleasant read and I felt like I got to know most of the characters very well, which is great because many series have rather shallow first books in which the characters seem fairly flat. This is not the case here. Mary Deal created a main character you actually start to care about more and more as the plot progresses. I found the story was exciting, but not in a nerve-wracking manner. Sara is a believable character and I felt closer to her than to many other female protagonists, because Sara seems to have some real values and is not a superficial chick who all of a sudden turns into a heroine. I also liked how a touch of the supernatural was woven into the plot. It gave the story that little bit of an extra that a book needs to deserve 5 stars, which River Bones certainly does.

K.J. Simmill

It had always been Sara's dream to own a Victorian mansion and, although Talbot House was in need of some renovations, her dream had finally come true. Strange noises in the night left her on edge, but when she and her friend, Daphine, found fresh marks in the concrete where someone had tried to pry open the window, Sara had to finally accept there was more to the noises than just her imagination. At her friend's suggestion, they went to visit Mrs Talbot, to learn more about the legend of the ghost walking the halls, if only to discover if these rumours had any truth. Sara, however, was less concerned about a ghost and more worried about a serial killer. She was obsessed with thoughts about this murderer at large, and worse still, new evidence seems to suggest they came from Delta, a fact made more unnerving by the feeling that someone has their eye on her. Events that could once be dismissed as an over active imagination begin to escalate until there was no longer any room for doubt, Sara was not safe. Join the mystery and see if you can discover the killer's identity in Mary Deal's River Bones: Sara Mason Mysteries Book One.

Mary Deal seamlessly integrates Sara's history and character building into the plot, and by the time you reach the end you know everything you could want to. Friendships are built and developed, whilst all the time a budding air of tension keeps the reader wondering what is happening, and dreading what is to come. There is a brilliant attention to detail, from describing the surroundings, to providing sensory images so you can almost feel the thick blanket of the fog, or the scent of the surroundings. This book really is a descriptive treasure and builds a fantastic image of Delta, its surroundings, and even the community. Fans of mystery fiction will love how subtle clues are woven within the plot and, as with any good story, the red herrings and twists will keep you guessing. River Bones is a great read, filled with intrigue, suspense, mystery and even romance. It is well written and easily one of the best mystery/suspense books I have read this year. Mary Deal clearly has a talent for this style of writing, and I look forward to reading more books from her in the future.

Romuald Dzemo

River Bones by Mary Deal is Book One in the Sara Mason Mysteries, a fast-paced meld of general thriller, intrigue, and mystery that reveals the author’s ingenuity in plot and gift for character. Cunningly plotted, this novel follows Sara Mason who returns to her hometown many years after the unfortunate deaths of her parents and sister. She returns to the very place where her alcoholic parents and younger sister drowned, determined to reconcile with the past and move on. So, she buys an old Victorian house, and then strange things begin to happen.

At the time she is about to start renovations on the house, human skeletons are found in the surrounding areas and even more on Sara's acreage. With more skeletal remains surfacing, Sara is ordered to move out of the house while investigations continue. This is the work of a psychopath who strangles his victims and buries each of them with a dead animal. Sara could be the next target as she is stalked by the deadly killer. When she joins the investigation, she believes she is able to lead the Sheriff to the killer, but she ends up in a very dangerous position — alone with the killer. Will Sara be the twenty-ninth known victim or can she fight her way out of this tight predicament?

This is an exciting read, a thriller that unfolds at breakneck speed with a powerful tension that sweeps the reader along, arousing their emotions and a subtle sense of anxiety that builds up as they read on. Sara is genuinely flawed and vulnerable, and the reader wants to follow her, at times fearing for her life, and at times admiring her daring. Mary Deal uses a lot of cunning with the plot, putting many suspects in front of the reader and making them guess each step of the story. River Bones is enthralling, a bold plot with a satisfying end.