The Bone Factory by Yolanda Sfetsos

Max Patella just wants to do her job, which includes dealing with cases the corrupt police don’t want to dirty their hands with.

When she stumbles on a bunch of skeletons found in different warehouses, all wearing mysterious rings, Max finds herself in a dangerous and deadly situation that leads back to her…

The IndieMuse Review

Overall Rating:

Mort Stone’s Review

What an interesting story this turned out to be!

This story by Yolanda Sfetsos takes you into a very corrupt world in a city called Lorn.

Max Patella is a P.I. who gets called in by the police when there are cases they don’t want to handle themselves. With the discovery in warehouses over the city of skeletal remains who all have mysterious rings on their fingers, she sets off to find the truth behind a possible serial killer.

This story is very bleak and cynical – especially when she states things like at least she gets to keep 50% of her pay (due to corruption) and women being suppressed by men—it does have this almost dystopian feel.

There are two things which bothered me with this one:

The first is—halfway through the story—it becomes supernatural. While I don’t mind the supernatural element, with talks of werewolves and necromancers, I would have liked to know what I was getting myself into from the start.

The second is that this story has a lot of unexplained history,” which means it felt like there should have been a story before this one, with a lot more detail about everything going on. In all honesty, I felt like this would have worked better as a .5 story between two novels or novellas.

The writing itself was good and the story wasn’t bad, but I really wanted more for all the loose end which wasn’t explained to satisfaction.

Richard Martin’s Review

The fifth book in Demain’s Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! line is a book unlike the horror laced crime fiction book I was expecting going in. There is murder aplenty and the mystery is an intriguing one, but “mayhem” doesn’t quite do justice to the unbridled creativity on display here.

Max is often brought in to assist the police in cases they cannot or will not investigate. When a skeleton of a young woman is found at a local factory the police call her in due to the unusual circumstances and seeming lack of clues. Was this an accident, or is there a killer on the loose?

As the body count rises and Max begins to believe supernatural forces may be at work, what at first appeared to be an industrial accident turns out to be something far more sinister and dangerous, with link to Max’s troubled past. If she wants to help the women she has sworn to protect she is going to have to dredge up memories of past deeds she would rather leave forgotten.

The Bone Factory mixes detective noir, urban fantasy and horror to create a murder mystery story with a macabre bent. It is an unusual story in that it starts out as a fairly straight murder mystery, albeit in the inherently creepy setting of a doll factory. From there, Sfetsos begins to gradually drop in elements of the supernatural until an ending which is pure fantasy, complete with witchcraft, necromancy and rituals. It is a fun mix but, reader beware, the story you expect going in may not be the one you end up getting.

The book actually feels like an installment in a long-running series as opposed to a standalone novella. It has all the elements that such series require (strong supporting cast, epic scope, lots of room for further stories) There is an impressive amount of world-building on display and it is a world I would happily revisit should Sfetsos ever decide to write more.

Such a series lives or dies based on how willing the reader is to follow the main character through multiple books, and Max is definitely one of those characters. She is outwardly very self-confident and strong and demonstrates a great deal of empathy and resourcefulness from the very start, but as we spend more time with her we begin to see vulnerabilities that humanize her. She reminded me a great deal of Charlie Parker from John Connolly’s long-running horror/crime series, or John Constantine of Hellblazer comics fame. Both are compassionate and often heroic but struggle with traumatic pasts and a sense of disillusionment about the world they inhabit, and Max fits in perfectly alongside these two famous fictional sleuths.

The Bone Factory may ultimately be too steeped in magic and fantasy for the crime fiction fans, and a little too grim for the fantasy crowd, but if this melding of the two, replete with a horror cherry on top, is something that appeals, then The Bone Factory is a great story with a fantastic lead character. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we hear of Max…

MORT STONE

Mort Stone lives in untamed Africa, where he rides his lion to work every morning to slave away as a scientist who learned how to fake competency.

Reading is his passion…well, the one he can admit to, anyway. As an aggressive pacifist, he chooses to fight vicariously through stories which can bring him no physical harm.

While he is almost confidant that his IQ is in the top 50%, his wife regularly reminds him of all the stupid things he does. He will neither admit nor deny the accusations of sarcasm, but he can act like he cares. Most of the time.

As an avid reader of horror and thrillers, and somewhat of a movie buff in those genres, he still blames his insomnia on Global Warming. Because he can.

He would also like to apologize in advance for any swear words which might slip through…he will blame that on the insomnia.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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