Bone Shadows (John Santana) by Christopher Valen

Bone Shadows Reviewed by Patricia Reid

John Santana is a homicide detective in St. Paul, Minnesota and is very good at his job. However, there is a lot more to Santana than just his job. Born in Columbia, Santana lives under a cloud knowing that at any time his deeds in Columbia prior to fleeing the country can come back to haunt him and seek revenge.

When the body of Scott Rafferty, age 23, is recovered from the Mississippi river, the initial reaction is death by suicide. Santana is not immediately buying into the fact that Rafferty’s death is a suicide. Santana’s past experience with suicide by drowning has been that of an orderly scene with the victims clothes removed and neatly folded. This is not the case with Rafferty’s body.

Rafferty’s father, Hank Rafferty, is a police officer and his wife, Rachel Hardin, is a Ramsey County Judge. Hank informs Santana that a drowning simply does not make sense. Hank states that Scott saw his mother drown and Scott has never liked water. Rachel Hardin, Scott’s stepmother, explained that Scott was seeing a psychiatrist. Hank explained that the doctor was treating Scott for PTSDA (post traumatic stress disorder). Hanks said that Kimberly Dalton, Scott’s girlfriend, had contacted him a few nights ago concerned that she had not heard from Scott. Hank suggested that she file a missing persons report.

As Santana is attempting to determine how to proceed with the investigation, he is approached by Jack Brody. Brody is a freelance journalist. Brody was once an award-winning reporter but he hasn’t had a good story for awhile. He offers Santana a theory that there is a serial killer operating along the I-94 corridor. Jordan Parrish, a private investigator, hired by the parents of another victim tells Santana that she is in agreement with Brody.

The case becomes even more confusing when Santana is approached by Ed Kincaid of the FBI.
Kincaid tells Santana it would be best if he closed the Rafferty case as a suicide by drowning. In order to back up his suggestion he begins questioning Santana regarding Santana’s last trip to Columbia. Santana is having none of Kincaid’s veiled threats and makes no bones about telling Kincaid.

As Santana digs deeper into not only the death of Rafferty but also other deaths by drowning, he discovers the story gets more exciting and complicated. “Bone Shadows” is an exceptionally good read and a great addition to the John Santana series. The series can be read out of order without a problem but to really get to know Santana it is best to start at the beginning.

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