I put a hold on this audiobook based on the author alone. Kate Wilhelm is an author whose mysteries and thrillers I tend to enjoy, but when I started to listen to Skeletons, I almost didn’t get past the first bit which was basically the blurb from the back of the book. It mentioned a young man being killed, implying that it was the main character’s fault and a possible connection to a family history of being involved with the Ku Klux Klan, and neither really struck me as something I wanted to listen to, but I kept going and was glad I did.
Lee Donne has an eidetic memory that maintains a visual representation of everything she has ever seen, a gift she finds essentially useless. Lee has left college, without a degree, and has no job on the horizon, so she agrees to house-sit at her grandfather’s isolated Oregon home. Her stay soon becomes a nightmare when she is tormented by strange and menacing noises at night. Lee is just paranoid enough to make you feel the danger as she feels it, even when the police dismiss her concerns. Determined to track down the sounds, Lee and a friend find their source; a young man who is accidentally killed during their investigations. Lee searches the house, trying to discover what the man could possible have been looking for and an envelope full of old photographs: men in white hooded robes, her grandmother, and a black man hanging from a tree. But that young man was just one member of a powerful political group after the photos, a group who will stop at nothing to get them, and Lee’s only hope is in exposing the truth before they permanently stop her.
I liked how the past secrets influenced the modern day, which is a common themes in several Wilhelm books I’ve read. Also, solving the first mystery, who’s trying to scare Lee and why, just leads Lee into a deeper, scarier maze where the people with power really are out to get her, she’s not just paranoid. She still keeps her wits about her. There weren’t many, if any, moments when I wanted to yell at her that she was being stupid. Her actions rang true. If she went into the dark woods, it was with a plan and appropriate shoes.
Not my favorite of Wilhelm’s books, it’s a decent thriller: it didn’t have me biting my fingernails, but it did keep my interest. I really enjoyed the time the characters spent in New Orleans, too, it’s a city I would love to visit one day.
There’s a bit of a romance, but it did not get in the way of the plot at all, actually helped it along some. It was a sweet, slowly getting to know each other before even thinking about a relationship kind of thing, a nice contrast to the usual jumping into bed by the third chapter.
Skeletons is one of those mysteries that will get you thinking – about how the past still affects today, about politicians and what they’re willing to do to maintain power, about racial tension even today.
I’ll definitely read/listen to more of Wilhelm’s. I’m actually happy to see that she’s reprinting her backlist as well as two new mysteries as e-books and print-on-demand through her Infinity Box Press.
3½ out of 5 stars
First published August 1, 2002
8 hours 56 minutes
Read by C. M. Hébert
Book source: Library