Fans of Julia Keller will look forward to Emily Littlejohn’s debut Inherit the Bones, an accomplished first in series that introduces detective Gemma Monroe, a pregnant investigator with a dicey partner who’s away in Alaska as the action unfolds.

There’s been a lot lately in the news about clowns scaring people in different communities, so it’s with an eerie sense that Gemma is called to the murder scene at Fellini’s Traveling Circus to examine the body of a dead clown, played by a young man named Reed Tolliver.

Cedar Vally, Colorado springs to life under Gemma’s gaze and brings the reader in as the detective begins her investigation when Tolliver’s prints come back as belonging to Nicky Bellington, the son of the mayor, presumed dead years ago after a fall off a cliff when camping.

It becomes a politically-charged investigation after that, with Gemma saddled with a partner she doesn’t completely trust. Why would the son of the one of the most influential men in town pretend to be dead? And when he returned to his hometown, who had murdered him and why?

These questions won’t be the only ones facing Gemma, as she can’t seem to lose the thread of a double murder from years ago when two young cousins were murdered.

Littlejohn’s realistic prose, coupled with characters who resemble actual humans with valid actions and emotions, lead the reader to appreciate this
appealing debut. And I admire the author for doing what Auntie M has done in her Nora Tierney series: saddling her protagonist with an infant, which she will find, severely impedes her detecting skills. We should compare notes.

Here’s a recent interview with Littlejohn on her book: