Henry Rios is not real. Henry Rios is not real.
I had to remind myself Carved in Bone is fiction… several times.
I had to remember there was a mystery to solve, and that I wasn’t reading someone’s journal.
Because the author is just that good, luring me in so deep, I raised my head to look for Henry or Bill. Or Larry.
While investigating an insurance claim after the questionable death of Bill Ryan, Henry pulls the curtain back on San Francisco during the days and years after when AIDS was first identified. It’s not always a pretty picture, or just about AIDS. For some, the virus was the final punch from life after years of rejection, abuse and violence, and addiction and recovery. For those who recovered.
Henry is determined to answer all the questions surrounding Bill’s death, and he does… while dancing through some pretty cool plot twists. So engrossed in the story from the start, I missed the foreshadowing of one of the reveals. Good writing!
Carved in Bone is heavy and emotional. The author’s use of real events, places, and people make it relevant and thought-provoking, even if it is the past. I lost my baby brother to AIDS-related PCP in 1993, so for me it will never be buried in the past but more like yesterday.
Carved in Bone is heartbreaking because it also pulls the curtain back on a civilized society that is anything but when faced with something we don’t understand… or want to understand. There’s no happy ending tied with a pretty bow because life doesn’t guarantee happy endings–even the dead are victimized in this read. But if Henry Rios has nothing else, even at his lowest, he has hope.
Carved in Bone is simply excellent writing that took me there. I highly recommend it.
A new mystery by six-time Lambda Literary award winner, Michael Nava. Set in San Francisco in 1984, Henry Rios, a gay criminal defense lawyer, is fresh out of rehab and trying to put his life back together. He’s hired by an insurance company to investigate the apparently accidental death by carbon monoxide poisoning of Bill Ryan in the Castro Street apartment he shared with his lover, who survived. As he delves into Bill Ryan’s life, Rios becomes convinced Ryan’s death was no accident, and that his young lover is implicated. Meanwhile, the tsunami of AIDS is bearing down on San Francisco’s gay community.