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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Bone Deep Bonds by B.G. Arnold is a rather ambitious book in that it seeks to achieve several different things through its plot, characters, and resolution. Its plot is centered on nailing down a pedophilic predator, making it closer to a psychological thriller than a simple mystery. When 12-year-old Brian is kidnapped, his deeply religious father, Dave, believes God will lead him to the kidnapper and his son. Owen, a former but now freed victim, is also looking for the perpetrator. And through Owen, a social worker called Jane becomes involved in the search. Ultimately, their separate efforts bring them into each other’s lives. Several of its key characters are actively involved in discovering the perp’s identity and whereabouts, and each of those has been abused in some way in their pasts. And when the ending finally ties up all the threads linking these characters to each other, that resolution not only clarifies their pasts and forecasts their futures but also highlights some significant, lesser-known abuse issues.
B.G. Arnold quickly captures readers’ attention by letting us see inside the predator’s self-absolving mind as he scours a road searching for his next perfect victim. He sees himself not as harming those he kidnaps, but as doing them a favor. In his underground prison, he provides them with rather luxurious accommodation and great meals, and if they are good students, they earn further attractive rewards. Oddly enough, when it’s time to set them free, he does. How is it then, when they are now back in their former world, that he has never been caught? The author has chosen to tell this story by switching back and forth between several narrators, including the perp. The result is a revealing look into each character’s past and the motivations behind their present activities. Dialogue is plentiful and well-handled, as are scene and narrator changes. Hence, no confusion for the reader. The most memorable aspect of Bone Deep Bonds rests in the broad picture it provides of abuse victims: they are all around us! They come from varying backgrounds, suffer both short and long-term effects from the abuse, and perhaps too often those who abuse are themselves victims of past abuse. A thought-provoking and engaging read.