Rodney Dodig is an expat and author living in Lima, Peru. I had the pleasure of getting to know Rodney years ago when I was the editor of Living in Peru and Rodney contributed regular articles. In the intervening years, Rodney has published 4 very good novels, most of them set in Lima during various historical periods.
“Bone Gap Road” is his latest work and it’s a nicely crafted murder mystery. The protagonist is a young Sheriff named Rufus Alpheus Baney who, although over-educated for his position as small town Sheriff, finds himself sorely challenged when a young woman is murdered in his jurisdiction.
Set in 1890, Dodig does an excellent job discussing the crime scene investigations of that era. Baney is limited to making sketches of the crime scene and creating a journal of extensive notes and observations. In light of recent popular shows like CSI, it’s interesting to be thrown into a world of limited forensic investigation. As difficult as it is to build a case of guilt in modern times with access to audio and video proof of wrongdoing, imagine how hard it was to sway public opinion as to a suspect’s guilt or innocence when the only available evidence amounts to sketches and objects gathered from the scene.
Dodig does a good job accurately capturing the agitation of the local populace. Initially they are supportive of the Sheriff, but when local politicians see an opportunity for individual gain, the crowds get riled up and become unruly. Add in the firebrand effect caused by the victim being a young, attractive girl, and Sheriff Baney quickly finds himself in a dangerous and volatile situation.
I enjoyed Dodig’s writing style very much throughout this book. He conveys information efficiently but with just enough insight to bring the characters to life. There aren’t moments of lengthy or poetic description, instead the focus is on the story and the accurate representation of good people facing difficult choices.
Small town life is often regarded as idyllic, but anyone who has ever lived in a small town knows the peace and quiet only last until something stirs the surface. The appearance of a murder victim near Bone Gap road brings a fair number of scandals and embarrassing secrets to light in a way all readers will recognize as authentic. The references to Sherlock Holmes and C. August Dupin provide a certain Gothic point of orientation, and help to create a world sure to please any fan of intellectual detective stories. For more on “Bone Gap Road” check out the excerpt below: