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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dood Suspense Novel
Tess Gerritsen gave up a successful medical practice so that she would have more time to bring up her children and concentrate on her writing. She lives in Maine, with her family. I read a couple of the authors books and thought that were really good suspense thrillers. Then I read a couple more that were so different, they did not seem to be by the same author. So I...
Published on 31 Dec. 2007 by J. Chippindale

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as thrilling as Tess' other stuff
I am a fairly recent fan of Gerritsen and worked my way very quickly through her previous works such as The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner and the wonderful Mephisto Club. Usually when reading her books, I get annoyed with having to put it down to do something else but with the Bone Garden, not only was I ok to leave the story where it was but I wasn't actually THAT...
Published on 25 Mar. 2009 by Lilly Penhaligon


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dood Suspense Novel, 31 Dec. 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
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Tess Gerritsen gave up a successful medical practice so that she would have more time to bring up her children and concentrate on her writing. She lives in Maine, with her family. I read a couple of the authors books and thought that were really good suspense thrillers. Then I read a couple more that were so different, they did not seem to be by the same author. So I approached this book with a little trepidation, particularly as I am not a fan of books that revert from the present to the past, or vice versa.

This book was a revelation and certainly made me change my mind yet again about the author. This is Tess Gerritsen back to what she does best. Scare the pants off the reader.

In the present: Julia Hamill is the proud owner of a new property in Massachusetts, but while exploring her new purchase she horrified to find a skull buried in the rocky soil. She is even more stunned when the Boston medical examiner confirms that the skull is a human one, from a female and carries the marks of a murder weapon.

The story travels back over a hundred years when it was not unknown for medical students down on their luck to become Resurrectionist, a term conjured for those who are prepared to plunder the graves of the recently deceased. Dead bodies will always fetch good money to help with student fees. Norris Marshall is one such student. However, because of his illicit dealings, he finds himself a prime suspect when the murdered and subsequently mutilated body of a distinguished doctor is found in the university grounds.

Writing suspense novels is what Tess Gerittsen is good at and this novel is certainly back on the right track as far as I am concerned.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bone-chilling stand-alone novel, 11 April 2008
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone Garden (Hardcover)
For the first time in several years Tess Gerritsen has written a one-off novel, so there's no sign of Rizzoli and although Dr Maura Isles does get a mention, it's so insignificant as to be an indulgence on the author's part. Another cause for hesitancy before I hit the 'buy now' button was the knowledge that this story mostly takes place in the early 19th century, and not being one to buy any historical-style novels I did consider giving Tess's latest a miss. I'm glad I trusted her though, because I now realise that she did the right thing to take a break from Rizzoli, the timing was right, and there are enough autopsies to keep the fans of Dr Isles happy too - even if the images they portrayed were even more shocking then ever, such was the brutality and plain crudeness of the profession in Boston 180 years ago.

I wouldn't go as far as to call it a thriller however. Suspense levels were low but the overall style and flavour was different to anything from the Rizzoli series, and I found the atmospheric creations compelling, the characters and language authentic and above all I found the description of the early days of anatomical research and surgical techniques very interesting, if rather saddening. It made me realise how lucky we are today to have the luxuriously high standards of medical treatment and hospital safety that we do. This tale always held my attention, then, but mainly for the impression it gave that much of it was based on fact. It was almost like a fictionalised documentary, and I found the facts more compelling than the fiction. You could regard it as a testament not so much to the pioneering doctors and surgeons of that relatively primitive time, but to the countless victims of their research. If you like Tess Gerritsen's story-telling skills, this latest offering will not disappoint.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bone-chilling stand-alone novel, 29 Oct. 2007
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
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For the first time in several years Tess Gerritsen has written a one-off novel, so there's no sign of Rizzoli and although Dr Maura Isles does get a mention, it's so insignificant as to be an indulgence on the author's part. Another cause for hesitancy before I hit the `buy now' button was the knowledge that this story mostly takes place in the early 19th century, and not being one to buy any historical-style novels I did consider giving Tess's latest a miss. I'm glad I trusted her though, because I now realise that she did the right thing to take a break from Rizzoli, the timing was right, and there are enough autopsies to keep the fans of Dr Isles happy too - even if the images they portrayed were even more shocking then ever, such was the brutality and plain crudeness of the profession in Boston 180 years ago.

I wouldn't go as far as to call it a thriller however. Suspense levels were low but the overall style and flavour was different to anything from the Rizzoli series, and I found the atmospheric creations compelling, the characters and language authentic and above all I found the description of the early days of anatomical research and surgical techniques very interesting, if rather saddening. It made me realise how lucky we are today to have the luxuriously high standards of medical treatment and hospital safety that we do. This tale always held my attention, then, but mainly for the impression it gave that much of it was based on fact. It was almost like a fictionalised documentary, and I found the facts more compelling than the fiction. You could regard it as a testament not so much to the pioneering doctors and surgeons of that relatively primitive time, but to the countless victims of their research. If you like Tess Gerritsen's story-telling skills, this latest offering will not disappoint.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars squalor and pain, 12 Nov. 2007
By 
Dr. Robert A. Josey "mystery lover" (Scottish Highlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone Garden (Hardcover)
I haven't read Tess G before - and ordered this book in a large print edition because I was so intruiged by the premise. Then I read disappointing reviews of it on Amazon US.
I read it anyway - and was glad I did so. No, it's not really a page-turning mystery. And the ending is up to the individual reader to judge on its effectiveness.
The real suspense came from the depiction of the true medical horrors which existed in 1830. Doctors arriving straight from autopsy suites after handling diseased cadavers - then inspecting women in childbirth wards. Madness and ignorance. Tess G really handles this aspect of the book brilliantly.
Though it is not Charles Dickens - nor meant to be - she also gets across the poverty, pain and squalor in which her characters live. I was really moved by Rose Connolly's plight throughout.
In the end I read it as a novel rather than a thriller. But I learned a great deal from it and enjoyed it too. I would read another historical book from her.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A historical approach, 20 Feb. 2008
By 
Ajoobacats "Ajooba Cats" (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone Garden (Hardcover)
This is a thriller with backflashes to the 19th century , where medical standards and practices were very different to today. So there is story in a story. Gerritson combines the historical setting with the plot well, and this is definitely a page turner.

What this novel isn't is a continuation of the Isles/Rizzoli series, and so from a postive point of view can be picked up by any one who has not read the Isles/Rizzoli series, but is, form the dust cover misleading to those of us who have read the series and are expecting a continuation.

The story itself, because of the historical element and the insinuation of the concept of reincarnation, reads more romantically than her recent books and does end with the anticipated twist. Not her best work for established fans, but still worth a read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as thrilling as Tess' other stuff, 25 Mar. 2009
By 
Lilly Penhaligon (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone Garden (Paperback)
I am a fairly recent fan of Gerritsen and worked my way very quickly through her previous works such as The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner and the wonderful Mephisto Club. Usually when reading her books, I get annoyed with having to put it down to do something else but with the Bone Garden, not only was I ok to leave the story where it was but I wasn't actually THAT bothered about restarting it. In the end it became one of those 'I've started so I'll finish' books.

The Bone Garden is one of those stories that flicks between a historical period (1830s) and the present day. It starts in the present day with the newly divorced Julia buying a run down old house in Boston and discovering a human skull whilst digging in the garden. In comes the infamous Dr Maura Isles (a regular character in Gerritsen's other books) to take a look at the skull and conclude that this is a case for an archaeologist for whilst it is a murder victim, the bones date back to the 1830s. That's Dr Isles total role in the book so if you were looking for more tension filled interplay between her and Rizzoli, then forget it. After that a few tenous phone calls from an unknown stranger and Julia is packed up and ready to waltz off to some godforsaken deserted old house to visit an old man who says he can solve the murder mystery. When she gets there, she remains delighted that finding the solution to the murder involves trawling through a century's worth of boxes and other bits of crap that belonged to the woman that previously owned her house (a relative of the creepy old man she stays with). From here, the story flicks back to Boston Medical School in teh 1830s where impoverished farm boy Norris Marshall is learning to be doctor. In the meantime, to pay his fees, he works as a Resurrectionist with the vile Mr Burke. Resurrectionists turn out to be grave robbers that are paid to sniff out relatively fresh corpses suitable for dissection in the medical schools. Norris' path crosses that of Rose Connelley whose siseter is dying in the hospital having given birth to baby Meggie. A very long and complicated love affair with a serial killer thrown in ensues. THe book flicks back and forth to follow the denouement of the relationships between Norris and Rose in the 1830s, and that of Julia and Tom in the present day.

There's plenty of medical dissections, autopsies and blood and guts for those accustomed to Gerritsen's love of the autopsy room. The historical parts are reasonably believable but overall the storyline and plot was just too blah for me. I could see all the twists and turns coming a mile off and when I suspected the final 'surprise!' outcome it was SO corny that I really hoped I'd got it wrong but I hadn't. The only reason I have given this any stars is because there was enough in there to keep me reading to the end but on the whole, I'll never read it again and most of it was fairly forgettable. The plot was as transparent as the window that currently faces me and anyone with half a brain can see what's coming next. Most of the time what's coming next is not worth the build up.

Overall this was a disappointing outing for me, having come from the likes of Gerritsen's other novels.

If you are new to her writing please don't make this your first foray into her work start with The Surgeon and work from there. This is really only suitable for hardcore Gerritsen fans or those who love medical history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Look at the Medicine and Mores of Boston in 1830, 8 Oct. 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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If you are a devoted Tess Gerritsen fan who loves Dr. Maura Isles using forensic anthropology to solve murders, please be aware that this book isn't in that vein. Instead, this book is more like a typical historical detective novel about murder in Victorian London by Anne Perry.

Ms. Gerritsen chooses to enrich her mystery by informing you about medical science of the time, before medical schools were well endowed with legal sources of cadavers and the germ theory of disease was unknown. If you don't care to learn about medicine in 1830, you'll probably think this is a two or three star book. If you have a weak stomach, you'll downgrade the book; there's a lot of pushing the gruesome and unpleasant in front of you for effect. Those looking for suspense rather than in intellectual puzzle should definitely look elsewhere.

A newly divorced woman, Julia Hamill, is digging the rocks out of her garden in Weston, Massachusetts when she uncovers a skull. The medical examiner's office is called and determines that this isn't a recent death. Julia wants to know how this skull came to reside on her property and finds clues through contact with the former owner's family. This leads to reading old papers that include letters from Oliver Wendell Holmes that describe a mystery from the 1830s.

From there, most of the book is spent in flashback. The flashback opens as a young mother, Aurnia, is having trouble giving birth while new mothers all around her are dying of childbed fever. Her doctor prescribes more bleedings, which only make her weaker. After a difficult forceps' delivery, the nurse immediately arranges to send the baby to the infant asylum because Aurnia is too weak to nurse and her husband has signed away rights to the baby. But Aurnia's sister, Rose Connolly, is determined to keep the baby.

We also meet Norris Marshall, the poor son of a Belmont, Massachusetts farmer who earns his medical school tuition and spending money by digging up the recently dead to provide cadavers for the medical school. He's a star in dissection because of his experience with animals. But he feels at a loss compared to his social superiors who are seeking medical degrees to gain a good livelihood or social position . . . or to please their families. One of his classmates is Oliver Wendell Holmes, the physician-poet father of the famous Supreme Court justice.

After the baby's birth, someone begins killing the medical and nursing staffs in a bizarre way. Suspicion soon falls on Norris who finds he needs Rose's help to clear his name. They soon find that they cannot trust anyone and are fighting for their very lives.

Dr. Gerritsen takes more of a physician's approach to this work than a novelist's view. Her characters are poorly developed in most cases. She relies on simple emotion (saving a new baby from harm) as the main appeal of the story while dragging you through all kinds of rottenness for shock's sake rather than story development. The story develops quite slowly in all of its dimensions.

If you have any familiarity with Boston and medicine in 1830, you won't find many surprises here. As a result, the plot becomes merely a scaffolding for unveiling what is already clear well in advance.

Why did I rate The Bone Garden as above average? I thought that the dual mysteries (pasts and present) were well integrated into a smooth combination that was satisfying. Having also worked with people who have old documents, I found that part of the current story to be very credible. Clearly, the book's design was a serious attempt to write a historical mystery with some educational content, and I thought that attempt also helped set the book above the average historical novel that I read.

Wash your hands!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Read,, My Favourite Gerritsen yet!!!, 14 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Bone Garden (Paperback)
Not your usual Gerritsen read.. Set way way back in the 1830's this book focus' on the West End Reaper. It is a historical thriller which pulls in the likes of Oliver Wendall-Holmes senior and makes an excellent play on the name Burke.

Set in and around the comings and going of a teaching hospital with high demand for cadavers and an epidemic of child bed fever! The story twists and turns and really is rather exciting! We are taken through the high drama of the gentry, the flirtatious habits of silly teenagers, and the brutality of early surgery (with out anesthesia, might I add.) We experience the different classes with in a small community, and we see, how through love (and murder) the classes become intertwined. After all, under the pomp and circumstance, we are all made up of the same vital organs.

What I will say, is that it is pretty mislabeled by linking it in with the other Isles and Rizzoli novels, and should be a stand alone novel. I think it would be better received if this was the case, and people pick the book up and expect something different, how ever, it is still an amazing read.

More like this please Tess!!
Lou x
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5.0 out of 5 stars History and Crime, 4 Jun. 2014
This review is from: The Bone Garden (Kindle Edition)
Crime and medical thriller with a great historic twist - another solid read from the never-disappointing Tess Gerritsen.

The story of this book plays out in two different times with an interlinking plot.

In the present day, divorced teacher Julie finds a skeleton whilst doing some gardening in her new house in Massachusetts. Tests quickly discover that the skeleton is more than 150 years old, and belonged to a young woman who was most likely murdered. Curiosity raided, Julie starts to make enquiries and discovers a murder series in Boston from 1830.

The story than takes us back to 1830 and to Irish immigrant Rose Connolly who witnesses her sister's death in hospital from puerperal fever after childbirth. Rose takes baby Margaret who survives and vows to look after her. But it becomes clear that people are interested in Margaret and want to take her away from Rose, so she starts to hide in the poor areas and underworld of the city. At the same time, we get introduced to Norris Marshall who studies medicine at Boston Medical College. As a poor student he finances his studies by digging up bodies from graves and selling them for medical research. The other students,mostly from rich families, look down at him. Than murders start to happen, and Norris always seems to be near when the murders happens. The college is under pressure to suspend him. He will cross paths with Rose who can give him an alibi and they will come together to discover a secret which will link back to Julie and the skeleton in present day Massachusetts.

This book was a true page turner for me. What will remain in my memory is the dreadful medical conditions at that time (many medications were yet to be discovered and hygiene standards of course nowhere near as to what we know). The hospital and all those women who gave birth deteriorating and dying from childbed fever - something which, as we now know, was mainly caused by poor hygiene standards during delivery and would be easily treatable now, but caused many maternal deaths at that time. Gerritsen describes the smell of death and the devastation in the hospital vividly and I felt myself shudder at the thought. (We easily forget that it is not that long time ago and what difference the good medical care makes to our lives!)

The other thing which will stay in my mind is the business with the dead bodies, the body stealing which was apparently not exactly uncommon, as it was very difficult for medical colleges to get the bodies to do their training / investigations - medical science as we know it was only starting up.

Rose is a very likeable character and I started to feel for her straight away. Norris is a bit of a different story and in fact, I was not quite sure about him right until the end (without wanting to give too much away) - this is of course how Gerritsen manages to create the tension for us.

You will love this book if you love a good mystery and are interested in the history of medicine.
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2.0 out of 5 stars From Resurrectionists to Rosicrucians, Back in the 19th Century, 28 Mar. 2014
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bone Garden (Paperback)
THE BONE GARDEN is a standalone medical thriller from New York Times bestselling author of THE MEPHISTO CLUB, New England-based physician Tess Gerritsen. Like her popular Rizzoli and Isles series, it is set in New England, in Boston and its surrounds, but Dr. Maura Isles, Boston forensic medical examiner, makes only a walk-on appearance here. It is, confusingly enough, set in the present day, and in 1830, and at various other 19th century dates. It uses a flashback and frame technique.

In the present day, 37- year old newly divorced Julia Hamill makes a sad discovery in the garden of her new rural Massachusetts home, which is more than 130 years old. She finds a skull buried in the rocky soil, that of a human female, according to Dr. Isles' trained eye. And it shows distinct symptoms of murder as cause of death. But the woman died long ago; Dr. Isles cannot identify her, and hands the case over to a colleague of hers from Harvard, Dr. Petrie, a forensic anthropologist.

Back to Boston, 1830: To pay for his education, farmer's son Norris Marshall, poor but promising student at Boston Medical College, has gone to work for a local "resurrectionist," as they were popularly called, a man who plunders graveyards and sells the bodies of the newly dead on the black market to medical schools. Then the bodies of nurses and doctors at the hospital related to Marshall's medical school begin turning up, cruelly carved by a person who clearly has knowledge of medicine and the butcher's trade. The city is terrified, panicked, and the press dubs the unknown serial killer The West End Reaper. Because of his background and schooling, Norris finds himself a prime suspect.

Norris believes that he must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer to prove his innocence. She is Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress, a recent immigrant from Ireland. Norris had met her briefly at the hospital sickbed of her sister beautiful parlor maid Aurnia, who died in childbirth, giving Rose a niece Margaret, to be known as Meg. Rose feels herself to be hunted by the killer, hides herself and her niece carefully in Boston's slums. In his search for her, Norris is joined by a medical school friend, the sardonic, keenly intelligent young man named Oliver Wendell Holmes, an actual real-life person who will one day make quite a name for himself in the real world. Once Rose is found, the three comb city and countryside --from its grim cemeteries and autopsy suites to its polished mansions and centers of old moneyed power, the rich, high status Boston Brahmins, as they are known. At one point, Norris is taken to a private home hidden out in the country, which he discovers is a stop on the Underground Railway, a network of concerned citizens fighting for the abolition of slavery and the freedom of slaves; this network of human rights devotees call themselves the Rosicrucians. So, his story takes this hopeful doctor-to-be from Resurrectionists to Rosicrucians, back in the 1830s.

Gerritsen began as a romance novelist. Her first medical thriller, HARVEST, was released in hardcover in 1996; it was her debut on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list. It was followed by medical thrillers LIFE SUPPORT (1997), BLOODSTREAM (1998), GRAVITY (1999). In 2001, the author began producing forensic thrillers. THE SURGEON was her first Jane Rizzoli thriller. Since then, she's written THE APPRENTICE (2002), THE SINNER (2003), BODY DOUBLE (2004), VANISH (2005, an Edgar Award nominee), and THE MEPHISTO CLUB (2006). Gerritsen is surely a fine writer, and the book brims with substantial period detail, gives us a good picture of Boston, its weather, citizens, byways and highways, back then, and in the current day. The book is a quick read. She can't be beat on her medical detail. But be warned, readers with sensitive stomachs, some of that medical detail is quite gruesome.

However, I really dislike the flashback and frame format, unless it is absolutely necessary to tell the story. In this case, it's quite confusing: you never know which century the story is in, the 19th or the 21st. And I can't see any necessity to have given this book its current-day frame, unless to provide the reader with Dr. Isle' walk-on. Or a weak and boring current-day romance. If that's what most readers demand, because I sure don't. I've never read Gerritsen before; though I do sometimes look at RIZZOLI AND ISLES, the television series based on her works. Am not sure I'd ever read her again based on this sample of her work.
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The Bone Garden
The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (Paperback - 1 Jan. 2010)
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