Review: Beastly Bones

In Beastly Bones, William Ritter has created another delightful tale with the astute R.F. Jackaby and clever Abigail Rook, who are on the case of shapeshifters, dinosaur bones and a few more otherworldly creatures (including humans).

This tale may begin with kittens, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. This is a fast-paced story, a mystery wrapped in a riddle with lots of excitement and revelations. It is funny and poignant, clever and revealing.

Jackaby is a detective who specializes in the supernatural. Abigail fled England to find opportunity beyond the boundaries enforced by her family. It's 1892, and her options are limited — until she meets Jackaby and joins one of the most unique and delightful detective agencies on this side of the Atlantic.

Beastly Bones jumps right into the thick of things with shapeshifters who, for the time being, are adorable kittens (mostly). Their owner soon meets an unfortunate end, and Jackaby and Miss Rook are plunged into a mystery that takes them away from New Fiddleham to Gad's Valley to help their police officer friend, Charlie. A dinosaur skeleton has been unearthed on a farm  — and a mysterious death connects the valley to New Fiddleham.

Not only are we reunited with our favorite characters, we meet another: Hank Hudson, an old friend of Jackaby's, a trapper by trade with an interest in the more rare species. The mystery of New Fiddleham lurks in Gad's Valley, and Charlie has to try to keep the peace, assist in the investigation as only he can, and keep two hotheaded paleontologists from harm (as well as harming each other). Nellie, an intrepid reporter, does her part to get the facts, and the others in Gad's Valley round out this interesting cast of characters.

Readers will laugh out loud and gasp in surprise, well up with a tear or two and root for the underdog (literally). It's a great romp into the unknown with the best guides imaginable led by an occultist and a paleontologist.

This is the second in the series, so consider taking a few hours to read the first book, Jackaby. (I estimate "a few hours" because, if you're like me, you'll finish it in record time.) One need not read the first book to enjoy the second, of course — but an intimacy with the cast of characters will add to a reader's enjoyment of the story.

Readers, rest assured, this is not the end of the story: a third tale in the series is scheduled for publication.

Additionally, Algonquin Young Readers offers a novella titled The Map: A Jackaby Story to tide over Jackaby fans.

Finally, visit the publisher's website for  extras available for both Jackaby and Beastly Bones.

Enjoy the fun and suspense that only R.F. Jackaby and Abigail Rook can provide, and learn a little about a lot of unusual things along the way.