Jonathan Gash

Alison & Busby £17.99hbk

Reviewed by Ayo Onatade

Bone Dancing is the latest in the series featuring hard working and conscientious Manchester-based Dr Clare Burtonall. However, her private life is very unconventional. By day she is busy helping the police with murder enquires and by night she has a boyfriend Bonn who spends his time as a male escort engaged by an agency to fulfil the requirements of bored rich women. Not surprisingly, Dr Burtonall also worries about her relationship with Bonn. Is she special to him or does he just see her as another client?

Burtonall’s job is not all plain sailing and often fraught with danger. In this case she is called in by the police to give her opinion on the death of a young woman and soon finds herself further entangled in the appalling, disastrous workings of the Manchester underworld. There is a wealth of excitement in the city’s seedy underbelly where, of course, no prisoners are taken. Furthermore, behind it all there are drugs created by a biochemist and surreptitiously distributed from the Christian Brothers orphanage.

In an attempt to enliven the novel, or possibly to initiate those not aware of the ways of the underworld, Gash starts each chapter with a clarification of the customary jargon so that by the time the reader has managed to finish reading the novel they will be completely familiar with the language of illegality. Not only is this a distraction but also it would have been better if he had just given an explanation or done an appendix of some sort at the end. It has been done.

Despite the attempt at an English lesson, there is actually a story, which at times I found it hard to believe. The steady procession of expletives that were totally unnecessary eventually become a turn off. This is a shame as it masks what would have been a far more enjoyable novel. Strictly for fans of Jonathan Gash.