Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Cuts Through Bone
by Alaric Hunt
ISBN: 9781250013309
A 2013 hardcover release from
Minotaur Books. 308 pages

It’s not difficult to understand why this novel won the Private Eye Writers Association award for best first. Here’s a fresh, intriguing voice, vibrant characters that make you want to know them better, and a wandering, complicated, story that is frustratingly incomplete by the end of the tale.

Littered with jargon and slang some of which is pretty obscure, the book sucked me in from the first page because its principal characters are so different and so appealing. Clayton Guthrie is a little detective. We know that because the writer refers to him exceedingly frequently as the little detective. Yet, before the tale is told, he casts a long shadow, based on his years of experience, his basic humanity, and his understanding of the ways of the unseen world. He hires a young Latina who is looking for a better path in life. Fresh from high school, possessor of a quick analytical mind and great good looks, Raquel Vasquez at first finds routine surveillance boring and the pay isn’t much. Then comes a meaty case.
Afghan veteran Greg Olsen has been jailed for murdering his fiancĂ©, wealthy Columbia University student and heiress to a publishing fortune. New York police have enough evidence to go to trial so they aren’t looking for alternative possibilities. Guthrie thinks Olsen is probably innocent and we’re off and running, because he knows he has to find the real killer, not just open questions about the validity of the case against the veteran
A large portion of the novel involves the clever use of the denizens of the big city who exist in the unwashed armpits and smelly crotches of New York. The language feels gritty and authentic, even though sometimes hard to follow. The plot makes sense, the characters, as written, belong in their scenes and act logically. Everything works. It will be interesting to watch this author’s development from this raw state to succeeding stages.