Cover image for The bones in the attic
The bones in the attic
Barnard, Robert.
Personal Author:
First Scribner edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, 2002.

Physical Description:
267 pages ; 23 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
Eggertsville-Snyder Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Hamburg Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Anna M. Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Williamsville Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Audubon Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Matt Harper, a television and radio personality and a former professional soccer player, has just bought Elderholm, an old stone house in Leeds in the north of England. It's ideal for him, his partner Aileen, and her three children. Even the attic space seems just right -- the perfect place for a game room or a children's retreat. But as Matt and his decorator tour the property, they find something that will put the attic off-limits for a long time to come: a tiny child's skeleton that has clearly been there for years. What happened to the child, and how did its skeleton get into the attic? Detective Sergeant Charlie Peace and his forensic team think the child's remains have been in the attic for thirty years. Thirty years? Matt remembers that time. It was 1969 and he was seven years old. He was in the neighborhood, spending the summer with an aunt. That was the summer that Elderholm's owner left her house empty when she went to visit a daughter in Australia. What happened that summer? What memories lie deep in Matt's consciousness? Where are the other children from that summer who now, of course, are adults? Who killed the little child and why was he or she never reported missing? And who has now written to Matt, assuring him that he had no part in what occurred, that he had gone home to London before it happened? As Matt struggles to recover his memory of that strange summer, both he and Charlie Peace ponder what it means to love and lose a child and how one thoughtless decision can change a life forever. Richly evocative and deeply poignant, The Bones in the Attic is crime writing at its best from one of the great contemporary masters of mystery.

Author Notes

Robert Barnard 1936-2013

Robert Barnard was born in Essex, England on November 23, 1936. He read English at Balliol College, Oxford. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he was a professor. His first novel, Death of an Old Goat, was published in 1974. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 40 books including A Cry from the Dark, The Bones in the Attic, Posthumous Papers, Death in a Cold Climate, Sheer Torture, Political Suicide, The Missing Brontë, The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori, and A Charitable Body. He also wrote an illustrated biography of Emily Brontë and A Brontë Encyclopedia, compiled with Louise Barnard. He received numerous awards including the Nero Wolfe, Anthony, Agatha, Edgar and Macavity Awards. In 2003, he won the CWA Diamond Dagger Award for a lifetime of achievement. He died on September 19, 2013 at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Barnard ushers his fans on another excursion through murder and mayhem in the north of England. A nasty event that occurred a few decades earlier is discovered when Matt Harper, a TV and radio star and former «footballer,» buys an old house in Leeds for himself and his family. Between buying the house and actually moving in, Matt finds the skeleton of a child in the attic. Detective Sergeant Charlie Peace is officially in charge of the case, but Matt carries on his own investigation, including ransacking his own memory. He is familiar with the neighborhood because he stayed there with his aunt back in the hot summer of 1969, which is when, the forensic specialists estimate, the body was placed in the attic. Matt is interested in looking up the people who used to live on the block. What part does the hippie couple who were squatters in one of the houses play in the mysterious affair? As always, Barnard is absolutely compelling. Brad Hooper.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this superbly written suspense novel from British author Barnard (Unholy Dying, etc.), former soccer star Matt Harper, now a television and radio personality, is the new owner of Elderholm, one of a small street of sturdy old houses in Leeds. As he and his remodeling contractor take a look around the attic, they come upon the skeleton of a toddler-sized child. The deeper Matt and Det. Sgt. Charlie Peace probe, the more certain they become that the child met its tragic death in 1969, the same fateful summer Matt had spent in this very community. A public appeal for information nets Matt an anonymous letter, confirming his suspicion that, as a seven-year-old youngster, he had seen or heard more than he was consciously aware. As Matt tracks down and talks with his old playmates from that summer, he connects fragments from his own memories with the information all of these provide. The conclusion isn't pleasant: some way, somehow, the kids he'd played alongside were involved. Some or all of them knew the truth about what had happened to the baby in the attic. Who of them had actually done the deed? Was it Rory? Drinking seemed to be his only solace. And what of Caroline? She had long since lost connection with most of reality. One by one, Matt delves into the past and present lives of his former companions. And slowly the circle narrows. Barnard quickly pulls his readers into the plot and holds them there right through the final pages, leaving them, along with his hero, pondering further possibilities. (Apr. 23) FYI: An eight-time Edgar nominee, Barnard has won the Nero Wolfe Award as well as Anthony, Agatha and Macavity awards. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Master storyteller Barnard (The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori) focuses on an old house in Leeds, where new owner Matt Harper, a TV personality, discovers the skeleton of a small child in the attic. Police say the skeleton has been there for 30 years which means that Matt was in the area at the time the child died. A skillful rendering. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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