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Talk about your brutal crime scenes: the charred corpse of a young woman, burned beyond recognition, is discovered smoldering in a bed in a house known to be used for spouse-swapping in a gated Australian community. Nearby is a bag full of baby items. An autopsy reveals that the woman had recently given birth, yet no child is found. Such a scene would be difficult for any cop to face, but perhaps especially so for homicide detective Kate Farrer, who is just back on the force after having taken a four-month leave due to the trauma she endured at the hands of a person who kidnapped and tortured her. What a way to be welcomed back to the force!

Skin and Bone, Kathryn Fox’s latest thriller, sees Kate Farrer teamed up with a new partner, Oliver Parke. They also pursue leads about a missing teenaged daughter of a wealthy family, and ones related to date rapes and missing women pictured naked in photos they find in the home of personal trainer Mark Dobbie. What, if anything, links all of the cases, though? And, with the personal demons that Kate faces upon her return to the force, will she be able to keep her act together enough to help solve the various cases, as well as to rescue a newborn who may be held captive by a murderer?

The wealthy family mentioned in the previous paragraph are the Penfolds. Their missing daughter, Candy, is mentally challenged, and Mark Dobbie, who had been her and her sister Lesley’s soccer coach before he started calling himself a "personal trainer," had dated Lesley in the past. Her parents, Robert and Janine, broke the relationship up by sending Lesley To New York to continue her education. Since then, Dobbie has switched his attention to Candy, also much against the Penfolds’ wishes. Mrs. Penfold tells Kate and Oliver her theory:

"We think he may have been using Candy to get to Lesley, trying to talk her into coming home from New York."

When another murder occurs, that of Brent Spender, bedridden, paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a diving accident at a resort, in a similar fashion - a fire begun by burning oil in his kitchen - Kate and Oliver feel that this death is also related, but how? Brent, it seems, before his diving accident, was one of a group of men who were friends who shared the perverse bond created because they all were date rapists.

Concerned with karma, thinking that his injuries might be a payback for his past actions, he sends an email to everyone on his list to warn them to change their lives before bad karma catches up with them, like it did with him. But, someone on the list, the detectives think, probably thought the email meant that Brent was about to tell the cops all he knew about the date rapes that they had committed, and by killing Brent was preventing their secrets from being exposed.

If you like captivating, edge-of-your-seat, suspenseful reads, then look no further than Skin and Bone, by Kathryn Fox. She’s one of the best of the crop of talented authors who have come from Australia of late, and will probably remind some readers of the books of Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reichs.. She’s a talented author who I look forward to reading more of in the future. For a book that’s perfect beach-reading fare, or for any time of the year, really, check out Skin and Bone today!



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