The Singing Bone

Beth Hahn. Regan Arts, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-942872-56-6
In the tantalizing opening, set in 1999, of Hahn’s carefully crafted first novel, documentary filmmaker Hans Loomis steels himself to open a package, covered with drawings of snakes, birds, skulls, and flowers, from Jack Wyck, a convicted felon. That Hans has asked Wyck about something that happened two decades earlier is a sign to Wyck that he’ll soon be out of prison. A flashback to upstate New York in 1979 introduces 17-year-old Alice Pearson, a high school student who, with three friends, becomes involved with the mysterious Wyck, who lives in an isolated farmhouse. Twenty years later, Alice, now a folklore professor, is researching ballads about a murdered girl’s body transformed into a musical instrument that’s able to identify her killer. After Hans contacts Alice about his film about Wyck, she’s chilled to learn that Wyck has fans who have created a website featuring images from his past crimes. Well-wrought leads enhance the effective, gradual reveal of exactly what put Wyck behind bars. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/25/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
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