So here we go.
“Bone” is a buzzword in mystery fiction. It’s a great four-letter way to plant an image in the reader’s mind. Depending on the context (and the reader’s frame of mind), that image might be Death, Decay, Serious Injury, Dread, or (I'm talkin' to you, Doug and Bob) Sex.
Christine Finlayson’s Tip of a Bone is only the latest in a long line of books with Bone or Bones in the title. And while Patricia Highsmith never went that route, she did use the word - at least once - in one of her novels. As proof, here’s a passage from Deep Water (1957):
A little Googling turned up all these books with Bone in the title:
Writer’s Bone - Daniel Woodrell
Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor
Bone and Bread - Saleema Nawaz
The Bone Cage - Angie Abdou
The Bone Thief - Jefferson Bass
The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon
The Bone Bed - Patricia Cornwell
The Bone People - Keri Hulme
The Bone Garden - Tess Gerritsen
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
The Bone Collector - Jeffrey Deaver
What’s Bred in the Bone - Robinson Davies
Gleam of Bone and Other Stories - Richard Cass
Close to the Bone - Stuart MacBride
And these using the plural:
Bones - Jan Burke
Her Boyfriend’s Bones - Jeanne Matthews
The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones - Jack Wolf
Island of Bones - Imogen Robertson
Them Bones - Howard Waldrop
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
City of Bones - Michael Connelly
Bag of Bones - Stephen King
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
The Maze of Bones - Rick Riordan
Salvage the Bones - Jesmyn Ward
Doll Bones - Holly Black
Murambi, The Book of Bones - Jennie E. Burnet
Wind and Bones - Kristin Marra
Bones - Edgar Wallace
Servant of the Bones - Anne Rice
Bare Bones, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones are Forever and (whew!) Bones of the Lost - Kathy Reichs
They’re not all mysteries, of course, but Bone and Bones are words everyone can relate to. Have titles to add? Shout ‘em out.
Laggard and bumpkin that I am, I’ve only read one of these books (other than Tip of a Bone, of course). That one is the Harry Bosch novel, City of Bones. Any others you’d recommend?
Forgotten Highsmith (and other) Books at pattinase.
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