Beverly Connor is a research assistant in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia and a specialist in bone identification and analysis. A Rumor of Bones is her first novel.
In this carefully constructed debut, the first fiction book produced by a new Nashville publisher, archeologist Lindsay Chamberlain unearths a nightmare. When a child's bones are found outside town, the local sheriff asks for her help in matching them to a missing child. Lindsay explains that the bones belong not to the presumed victim but to another little girl, who, the evidence suggests, had been sexually abused. She puts her excavation crew at the sheriff's disposal at the site of the grisly find, and it's not long before they discover and disinter the bones of more little girls. Meanwhile, back at her dig, Lindsay finds evidence of another modern burial. Although the sheriff dismisses the adult bones, which have been in the ground for over 25 years, in order to investigate the more recent child killings, Lindsay and Derrick Bellamy, her dancing partner and excavation foreman, probe further. The murder of the attorney for a locally prominent family at the site convinces them that the answers to all the crimes can be found among that family's eccentric members. Connor gives detailed descriptions of archeological and forensic method, but her focus on these nuts and bolts comes at the expense of character and pacing, rendering her puzzle a rather mechanical exercise. (Oct.)