Written in Bone
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“I took the skull from its evidence bag and gently set it on the stainless steel table. ‘Tell me who you are. . . .’ ” With this silent plea, forensic expert Dr. David Hunter ignites a harrowing murder investigation on a windswept Scottish island, and a tale of menace, sexuality, and revenge unravels—along with the chilling message that a killer has…
Dr. David Hunter should be in London with the woman he loves and a past he can’t quite shake off. Instead, as a favor to a beleaguered cop, Hunter travels to a remote island in the Outer Hebrides to inspect a baffling set of remains. A forensic anthropologist, he has seen bodies destroyed by all forms of violence, but even he is surprised at what he finds: human remains burned beyond recognition—all within the confines of an otherwise undamaged, unoccupied cottage. Local police want to rule the death accidental. But Hunter’s examination of the victim’s charred skull tells him that this woman, no doubt a stranger to the close-knit island of Runa, was murdered by someone nearby.
Within days, two more people are dead by fire. Hunter’s job is to coax the dead into telling their stories—but now that he’s beginning to hear them, he is staggered by the truth. Working with only the barest of clues, he peels back the layers of mysteries past and present, exposing the tangle of secrets at the heart of this strange community—from the deceptions of a wealthy couple to the bitterness of an ex-cop and the secrets of a lonely single mother—as a tale of rage and perversion comes full circle…then explodes in a series of violent acts and shocking twists.
From the Hardcover edition.
didn’t say much, only that I’d got my suspicions about Strachan, and that someone ought to look into his background. I thought I could steer bits of information his way, let him take the credit for it. And then I cocked up. I told Duncan that Strachan had been visiting prostitutes in Stornoway.’ Brody studied the glowing tip of his cigarette. ‘First thing he asked was how I knew. I told him it was just gossip, but I knew that wouldn’t hold up. No one else on Runa had any idea, you see. Lousy
dour working town still largely dependent on the fishing industry. The dock where I was dropped off was misty and cold, pungent with the usual harbour fug of diesel and fish. I’d been expecting to board one of the big car ferries that belched smoke into the rainy sky above the grey harbour, but the boat I found myself standing before looked more like a small fishing vessel than anything meant to carry passengers. Only the distinctive presence of a police Range Rover taking up most of the deck
at the house until one of them gets home,’ Brody grated, clearly not happy himself at having to ask anything of Strachan. ‘Unless you’ve any better ideas?’ Fraser hadn’t. We drove up through the village from the harbour, but when we reached the school Grace’s black Porsche wasn’t outside. The small building was unlit and empty. ‘They must have sent the kids home early because of the power cut. We probably missed her when we detoured to see Kinross,’ Brody said, his frustration evident. There
house. Two black leather sofas faced each other across a smoked glass coffee table, and the parquet floor was covered with thick rugs. There was another abstract oil painting of Grace’s above the fireplace, flanked on either side by floor to ceiling bookshelves. A glass case of flint tools and arrowheads stood against one wall, and there were other archaeological artefacts—fragments of ancient pottery, stone carvings—placed strategically around the room, each subtly picked out by a concealed
have been unthinkable to simply wait until the fire had burned itself out. Brody’s face was haggard. It can’t be Ellen, I told myself, feeling an awful hollowness. I tried to think of where she could be, of another reason for her car to be missing. But that only raised even worse questions. Dear God, what about Anna? Where’s she? I knew I should go back to the hotel to see, but I was afraid of what I might find. Across the other side of the yard I caught a glimpse of Maggie’s bright red coat.