Bone Dust White, by Karin Salvalaggio (2014)

Bone Dust WhiteEighteen-year-old Grace Adams is recovering from a heart transplant when she witnesses a murder, literally in her back yard. Equally shockingly, the victim is the mother who left her behind 11 years ago, only one in a series of damaging circumstances in her young life. Heavily pregnant detective Macy Greeley is sent to Collier from Helena, Montana, to solve the murder that re-opens the human trafficking case involving Grace’s mother more than a decade ago. Collier is a small town, and Grace can’t avoid being tarnished by her mother’s reputation, leaving her isolated and lonely, ripe for being victimized again. This is a debut novel, the first in a series, in fact. Salvalaggio has created a memorable and complex character in Greeley, who is preparing to raise her child as a single parent, since the man she loves is married. I enjoyed her wry humour that helps her manage in the face of small-town politics that let people ignore the underbelly of meth labs, domestic abuse, and other less visible crimes. I don’t like these stories; it’s not the world I want to help build here in Canada, but it exists and Greeley works to shine a steady beam of light on such injustices. The winter Montana setting is stark and unforgiving. Salvalaggio uses present tense for the narrative, providing a cue to flashbacks through the use of past tense. This technique creates for the reader a weird distancing that, paradoxically, draws you right into the story. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, perhaps a few too many twists in the plot, but it was for me a compelling read that kept me interested to the very last pages.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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