The Bramble and the Rose

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Another book in the "Wish I'd Liked It Better" class. The mystery reviewer in the WSJ, Tom Nolan, really liked it, putting it on his Best Mysteries of 2020 list. So your take could be different from mine. (And, as I keep pointing out, the Goodreads folks encourage me to provide my subjective views. Did I like it? Not that much.)

It's the third book in Tom Bouman's series with narrator Henry Farrell. He's the one-man police force in semi-rural Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, an area (seemingly) filled with boozers, drug abusers, and sad losers. Henry's pretty morose, too, even though he's getting married to his pregnant girlfriend. What sets things off here is the discovery of a much-abused body in the woods, a private investigator who's been murdered, decapitated, and left for Purina Bear Chow. (Where's his head? Ah, over here in this hollow tree!)

Eventually, Henry finds himself in peril: from that bear who's acquired a taste for people; from people threatening to reveal his past illicit affairs to his new bride; and then there's the folks who just want to kill him, framing him for another murder.

I will repeat things I said about his previous books in the series: there are a lot of characters to keep track of. Bouman often breaks into some very nice, evocative, prose in describing people, places, and things. Just wish I cared a little more about what happened.