Cover image for Bone machine
Bone machine
Waites, Martyn.
Personal Author:
First Pegasus Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pegasus Books, [2007]

Physical Description:
481 pages ; 22 cm
Former police offier Joe Donovan, hired to confirm Michael Nell's alibi for the ritualistic murder of his girlfriend, instead finds himself pursuing a serial killer in Newcastle's underworld of child sexual abuse.
General Note:
"A Joe Donovan thriller"--Dust jacket.
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Waites stands out in the field of young British noir writers . . . with his bruised characters, raw-edged dialogue, and extraordinary night vision.-Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review The body is discovered in an abandoned burial ground: a young woman, blond, ritualistically mutilated, apparently. Her eyes and mouth have been crudely sewn shut. The police come up with a suspect quick enough: the victim's boyfriend, Michael Nell, who has a notoriously uncontrollable temper as well as an incriminating record of violence against women. His lawyer, however, is not convinced that Nell is a killer. All Joe Donovan has to do is prove the truth of Michael Nell's alibi. The job proves not to be routine, as Donovan's inquiries lead him and his crack team of operatives deep into Newcastle's murky underworld of child-trafficking and prostitution. When the second body shows up, the former investigative journalist knows he's up against more than local gangsters. Still bearing the scars of his own crushing history since the disappearance of his six-year-old son three years before, Donovan now finds himself enmeshed in the dark biography of an elusive, deranged serial killer whom he can profile but cannot identify. The killer meanwhile obliges the authorities with maddeningly cryptic clues to his twisted, deadly intents, but all the while time for the next young, unsuspecting victim is fast running out.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

British crime novelist Waites' latest reads like two different crime stories for nearly 350 pages, until the separate investigations of police and private operatives dovetail. Police are frantically searching for a serial killer who kidnaps and ritually murders university coeds, while the cops kidnap and shelter a young Bosnian woman forced into prostitution by a shadowy criminal boss who may be a Serbian war criminal. The novel is set in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and the descriptions of an old city once an engine of the Industrial Revolution that is now gentrifying will please armchair travelers. The novel also features a number of well-drawn characters, major and minor, battling personal demons (liquor, drugs, past tragedies). And as the stories come together, the author fashions bloody and exciting resolutions. Each of the two different story lines is compelling, and each may have been worth its own novel. The attempt to cojoin them, unfortunately, never quite works, but if Waites may have overreached here, his ambition should be applauded.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2008 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Characters struggle, sometimes heroically, against their compulsions and addictions in Waites's messy sequel to The Mercy Seat (2006). Journalist Joe Donovan's life fell apart after his six-year-old son vanished years ago, but now he's put together a substitute family of soiled misfits who want to learn how to trust and depend on each other while saving vulnerable people from exploitation. Besides going after a Serbian war criminal who's reinvented himself as a British vice lord, Donovan and his team become involved in the hunt for a sadistic serial killer who preys on young women. Along the way, they explore Newcastle's slums, where eastern European girls are a disposable commodity. What many of Waites's characters really want is proof that they're more than animals, mere "bone machines." Even the lunatic who tortures girls to death is trying to prove that the voices in his head are real and that there is life beyond death. Watching these competing, terribly driven people is often unpleasant but also compelling, as readers are kept unsure whether the ones they care about can survive as human beings or not. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Waites's second Joe Donovan thriller (after The Mercy Seat) has the former investigative journalist healing his wounds from his son's disappearance and hunting a serial killer. Waites lives in London. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.