Them Bones is the first book in the Sarah Booth Delaney series by Carolyn Haines. This paranormal cozy mystery was published in 1999 by Bantam.
No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth’s situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she’s flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state–or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend’s prize pooch to raise some cash.
But soon Sarah Booth’s walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she’s hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself…and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.
This review first appeared on our old blog in 2014. My opinions are still the same. The only change is I added the quick review in case you don’t want to read through the whole thing.
Jen’s Review of THEM BONES
Quick Review: unlikable main character, but good mystery
Them Bones does a good job of grabbing the reader’s attention. Sarah, a high-society woman, is broke. The resident ghost suggests she kidnap her friends dog for ransom. So she does it.
Then, her friend asks her to deliver the ransom. Because her friend, Tinkie, is so grateful and impressed with Sarah’s bravery, she hires Sarah to investigate Tinkie’s old lover’s family. A psychic told Tinkie that a dark man will be coming home. Tinkie assumes it is her old lover. She wants to know if the rumors about his family are true because, if they are, she did the right thing in marrying someone else.
The reason I gave it less than five stars for my ‘hook rating’ is because I almost put the book down when Sarah became a criminal with no hesitation. She’s not a very likable character. Later the reader learns that the bank has an interested party that wants to buy her house, tear it down, and build a shopping mall. Perhaps if Sarah had known this prior to kidnapping the dog, I could have understood her desperation.
Although Them Bones is an older book, I wanted to read it because the series sounded so interesting. This is an ongoing series; the most recent addition Booty Bones was published in May of this year, and another book will be coming out in 2015.
Sarah Booth Delaney was a hard character for me to relate to and like. She tries to be all proper and goody-two-shoes, but she makes bad decisions and she’s too concerned with what people think.
She’s also obsessed with her womb. When most women would equate sexual arousal with other parts of their body, Sarah talks about the effects on her womb. A lot. I understand the idea behind it–Sarah’s biological clock is ticking–but I don’t think that every turn-on should make her think about it. Can’t someone be turned on without automatically making it about motherhood?
One of the most off-putting things about Sarah is that she becomes a criminal without hesitation just because her ghost friend suggests it. She wasn’t even that desperate at that point because she hadn’t learned yet that there was someone wanting to buy her house. I didn’t understand how she went from high-society girl to criminal without batting her eyelashes. Plus, she never seems truly remorse about deceiving her friend.
It’s pretty bad when you’re glad the main character doesn’t end up with either romantic interest. That just shows how much I didn’t like her.
I expected this book to be more paranormal than it was. The only thing in it was a ghost who talks to Sarah.
The mystery was sound and not too predictable. I never get the feeling, though, that Sarah is in serious danger. There isn’t much suspense, and thus, not much to keep me interested in what happens to Sarah.
Would I recommend this book? I’m not sure if I will read any more books in the Sarah Booth Delaney series. Carolyn Haines is a good writer and, as I said, the mystery was good. On the other hand, I am uncertain if Sarah Booth Delaney would ever grow on me.
Despite my feelings about the main character, I would still advise people to give Them Bones a try. Not everyone is going to feel the same way about her. Even if they didn’t like her, they would probably be entertained by Jitty the ghost and the overall mystery.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars (B)