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Monday, January 10, 2022

Historical Australian Murder Mystery Atmospheric and Intriguing

(Image from Goodreads)

Although World War I gave Penelope Jane "P.J." Martindale a unique chance to travel and have an exciting adventure, it also stole two very important people from her. While grieving the deaths of her twin brothers, she visits London's Natural History Museum where she makes an intriguing discovery. A fossil found in a gorge near the Australian town of her birth, a place where her brothers loved to search for ancient treasures, gives P.J. a new purpose—to honor her dead siblings through the fossils they loved to collect. When P.J. returns to Australia, she's shocked to receive a frosty reception from her father, who blames her for his sons' deaths. Hoping to make peace with him and commemorate her brothers' sacrifice at the same time, she heads for Bow Wow Gorge despite warnings from the locals about its sinister reputation. Seventy years ago, an eccentric female paleontologist is said to have disappeared in its bowels under suspicious circumstances along with several of her young pupils. While wandering in the gorge, P.J. stumbles across a skeleton in a hidden cave. Thinking she's just accidentally solved an old mystery, she's stunned when the coroner announces that the unidentified corpse was the victim of a murder. Who was the deceased? What happened to them? And how did they come to lie in a cave full of priceless fossils? 

Ever since reading and enjoying Tea Cooper's The Woman in the Green Dress, I've wanted to read more by the author. I was thrilled to receive an e-ARC of her newest, The Fossil Hunter, which has already been released in Australia but doesn't come out in the U.S. until August. Told in a dual-timeline format, the novel features likable characters, a plotline that's compelling (although slow), and an atmospheric setting. I'm not into fossils, so I found that part of the story a little dull. I also wasn't wild about P.J.'s romance with Sam, since I didn't feel any sparks between them and I thought him irritating in his irresponsibility and impulsiveness. Other than that, though, The Fossil Hunter kept me interested enough to keep turning pages. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I did The Woman in the Green Dress, but I liked it overall.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love: I received an e-ARC of The Fossil Hunter from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss Plus in exchange for a honest review. Thank you!
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