cover image Near the Bone

Near the Bone

Christina Henry. Berkley, $17 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-19976-3

Henry (The Ghost Tree) pits the characters in this lumpy thriller against two formidable menaces: a gun-toting religious zealot and a rampaging cryptid. Mattie lives in a remote mountaintop cabin with abusive, Bible-thumping William, who is introduced to the reader as her husband. Soon after the pair come across the tracks of an outsized predator, she and William cross paths with a trio of amateur cryptozoologists who are investigating urban legends about a monster that lives in the mountain’s wilds—and who recognize Mattie as Samantha Hunter, the victim of a kidnapping that occurred 12 years earlier when she was eight. The tale then turns into a pell-mell race down the mountainside as Mattie and her rescuers rush to escape both the murderous William and the cryptid that has caught their scent. Henry builds considerable suspense throughout, but the improbable behavior of her characters often undercuts it, as when they pause to discuss the merits of grilled cheese sandwiches for several pages while their lives are in danger. The nature of the cryptid and its sudden appearance, meanwhile, go frustratingly unexplained. This promises more than it delivers. Agent: Lucienne Diver, the Knight Agency. (Apr.)