Book review: The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste

The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste
The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste
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Urban myth and crime thriller meet bone-chilling horror as Liverpool author Luca Veste dishes up what could be one of the best serial killer novels of 2018.

Veste, who has an intriguing Italian and Scouse heritage, is best known for his Murphy and Rossi crime series but this gripping hybrid sees him treading new and fertile territory.

Creepy, chilling and more twisted than a corkscrew, The Bone Keeper will slice through your waking hours, invade your dreams, and make you think twice before going down to the woods.

In a thrilling amalgam of crime detection, local legend and full-on horror, Veste takes us on a sinister and suspense-laden journey as a city’s mythical bogey man becomes a terrifying reality.

‘The Bone Keeper’s coming. The Bone Keeper’s real. He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t feel. He’ll snatch you up. And make you weep. He’ll slice your flesh. Your bones he’ll keep.’

Every child in Liverpool grows up with the legend of the Bone Keeper, the evil man in the woods who is always on the lookout for victims.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find the supposed home of the Bone Keeper. They discovered a disused tunnel and ventured inside. Three of them returned, but the fourth was never seen again.

Now, a woman has been found wandering the streets of Liverpool. Caroline Rickards has been horrifically injured… beaten, stabbed, her clothes shredded and her flesh sliced. She claims to have fled the Bone Keeper. ‘It’s real,’ she insists. ‘And it’s going to come back and find me.’

Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues, including her down-to-earth boss DS Paul Shipley, that the Bone Keeper urban myth might just be flesh and blood. Louise has good reason to believe the old legend but that’s a secret she keeps to herself.

When a body is unearthed in the woodland where Caroline says she was attacked, the case takes on a much darker tone. The disappeared have been found… and their killer is watching every move the police make.

Veste pulls out all the stops in this haunting, harrowing and highly emotional tale of a nightmare that rapidly evolves into a living reality.

The tensions between Henderson’s professional challenges and private dilemmas become an integral layer of the story as Veste mercilessly racks up the mystery and the suspense.

Add on a palpable sense of evil, a hint of the supernatural, and a storyline that grips from the unsettling opening chapter to the dynamic, disturbing dénouement, and you won’t sleep a wink long after the last page has turned.

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)