Title: Beastly Bones (Jackaby 2)
Author: William Ritter
Publication Date: 2015
Abigail Rook is settling in nicely as Jackaby’s assistant; granted, it is like being an assistant to a brilliant, but a bit mad, detective. Life in New Fiddleham, New England is full of supernatural events, including some shape-shifters who disguise themselves as adorable kittens. When their owner is murdered, Jackaby quickly wonders if this an isolated incident. Soon after, Jackaby and Abigail are called to assist Policeman Charlie Cane on a strange case of missing dinosaur bones in nearby Gad’s Valley, and Jackaby is certain there is a link.
Abigail throws herself whole-heartedly into the case, as her father is a famous dinosaur expert, and she has followed his digs closely. Her knowledge though is quickly called into question by Lewis Lamb, another dinosaur hunter who is egotistical and opinionated. He and his former associate, Owen Horner, have a difference of opinion on dig procedures, bone identification, and just about everything else. To complicate matters even more, Hugo Brisbee, the owner of the land where the bones are found, wants a piece of the action as well.
When the bones go missing, there is an uproar; however, their reappearance is even more confusing. Mix in a very nosy reporter, a cunning and avid hunter, and Charlie Cane, who has secrets himself, and Abigail fears she is unprepared for what might happen. When Jackaby confirms the identity of the bones themselves, Abigail knows that this adventure will be like nothing ever seen before in the paleontology field.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first Jackaby book and was very excited for the second installment. As I previously noted, the stories feel like a Sherlock Holmes meets Doctor Who; however, there was a bit of a Harry Potter creature element in this second story. I will admit that I found the story a little slow to start; there were a lot of seemingly unrelated characters and events. I think the author made the reader feel a bit like Abigail by wondering how everything fit together. Then, the reader hits a point not quite halfway through the novel, when the author sinks in his hook. I speed through the rest of story with anticipation and rapture.
Abigail is an extremely likable character and I enjoyed how we got a bit more of her backstory. I liked the references to her parents and hope that future books will provide even more depth. We also see a bit of a budding, though unconventional, relationship building between Abigail and Charlie. I am curious to see how that might work out. Jackaby is once again an enigmatic character; a bit of his own history is revealed as well, but the reader really isn’t sure how much to believe.
The teaser in the final chapter hints of future adventures for Abigail and Jackaby and a quest to understand the history of another important character. I look forward to what the author has in store for us!
Who might like this book:
Although a “young adult” book, I really feel that all ages will enjoy it. I think this is a great story to engage reluctant middle school readers as well; there is just enough gore, suspense, and quirkiness that will keep any reader engaged.