REVIEW: A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander

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Read this book for: historical mystery, contemporary mystery, British history, archaeological mysteries, hints of the supernatural

Quick Review: An engrossing read that perfectly blends the historical and contemporary for a brilliant story.


Archaeologist Sage Westfield has been called in to excavate a sixteenth-century well, and expects to find little more than soil and the odd piece of pottery. But the disturbing discovery of the bones of a woman and newborn baby make it clear that she has stumbled onto an historical crime scene, one that is interwoven with an unsettling local legend of witchcraft and unrequited love. Yet there is more to the case than a four-hundred-year-old mystery. The owners of a nearby cottage are convinced that it is haunted, and the local vicar is being plagued with abusive phone calls. Then a tragic death makes it all too clear that a modern murderer is at work…

A BABY’S BONES is a stand-alone novel by Rebecca Alexander that blends a historical mystery with a contemporary one. These two storylines intertwine through an archaeological excavation of a well that raises a number of questions, and is told in a way that alternates between both storylines.

In fact, the way that Alexander has woven the 400-year-old story of a woman accused of witchcraft, a mysterious set of bones in a well that seem to have stemmed from that period, and a modern suspicious death together is a triumph of balance. Each of the stories stands alone, but the parallels and links make two intriguing mysteries more powerful.

Alexander has also done an excellent job of making each mystery a page-turner that you are desperate to get to the bottom of. The historical narrative is particularly compelling; it seems well-researched and is both intriguing and very human. It is quite an accomplishment that Alexander has created a historical mystery so gripping, and told it in such a way that it does not matter when it took place, you are still desperate to find out the answers!

Part of this can be attributed to the character development (over and above the fantastic plot construction). Alexander has filled this novel with real, relatable characters that are interesting on their own. They feel very authentic, and it helps make the story even more intense. Even the historical characters feel like people you could meet today.

A BABY’S BONES is a fantastic set of stories, well told and well balanced between historic and contemporary plots. It’s a must-read for any lover of historical fiction and for anyone who likes a set of mysteries that spans centuries.

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