Published by Kensington on July 25, 2017
Genres: Crime/Serial Killer, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
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A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days.
The feeling like a buzz in your teeth.
The scrape of bone on bone. . .
Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims’ graves, in remote Dread’s Hand, Alaska.
It’s not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest.
But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what’s in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny.
And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. . .
BONE WHITE, by Ronald Malfi is a book that I’m already certain will make it into my “top reads of the year” list. There isn’t much “NOT” to praise about this novel!
Malfi begins with a chilling–both figuratively and literally–scene in the tiny, remote town of Dread’s Hand, Alaska. A man suffering from severe frostbite and dehydration wanders into the only eating establishment, announcing that someone should call the safety officer, Val Drammell, so that he can show him the location of eight bodies he buried in the woods.
“. . . patches of his clothes had grafted to open sores along his torso and thighs.”
The scene then shifts to Paul Gallo, an unmarried school teacher who’s twin brother, Danny, disappeared a year ago. His last known location–Dread’s Hand.
After this set up, Malfi really nails the characterization of all of his main cast through various means. We have flashbacks of Paul and Danny’s childhood, and the different directions each one took into adulthood. He gives us some insight into the alleged murderer, Joseph Mallory, along with the lives and superstitions of the few people who call “The Hand” their year round home. We learn about Val Drummel, and his role in the isolated, mostly wooded area.
“No locals would come out here . . . “
Paul’s next step is to see the Detective of Major Crimes, Jill Ryerson, who was responsible for initiating the search for Danny a year ago–a search that ended with his abandoned rental car on the only road into Dread’s Hand.
“. . . Time . . . acts funny out here.”
With that, Paul sets out to Dread’s Hand, himself–at this point, I couldn’t have put down the story if I tried.
To say that this novel was seeped in the icy, isolated atmosphere of an extremely remote and mostly shunned town, would be the understatement of the year.
“. . . You look into that woods and something looks back at you. . . “
Through Malfi’s writing, the reader actually walks that frigid land with the characters, hears the first-hand accounts of residents, the century-old superstitions that they believe as indisputable truths, and can practically feel the open hostility and distrust of any outsiders.
“. . . she said there were bad places on earth–dark spots, like bruises–and that Dread’s Hand was one of them . . . there were devils up there . . . “
BONE WHITE is the kind of book that has the power to mentally take you out of your comfort zone, and transport you into its action. No matter what you read, in the context of this story it will seem believable. This is the tale that nightmares are made of, that make you believe in demons and monsters of all kinds.
“. . . A man walks in there, he stand a chance of being touched by the devil. And that man, he goes sour . . . “
I’ve found that with most stories, I can easily walk right back into my everyday life after reading them. After all: “. . . anyone can take one story and rationalize it until it fits with their perception of the world . . . “
This is that rare exception that permeates your mind, and refuses to leave, forcing you to keep thinking over the events you’ve just read, and formulating connections that you may not have consciously noted before. There are many pieces to this puzzle–some obvious, and some much more subtle–but they will all be with you in the end. A fantastic novel with the power to haunt you for a long time to come–what will you choose to believe?
“. . . ‘We have seen the devil and he is us!'”