Distilled to the most basic level, tattoos are outward representations of internal emotions. Even people who get body art simply for the coolness factor end up getting an image that has some personal meaning to themselves. Finley Montgomery from Lisa Unger’s new novel Ink and Bone is no different. Expect in Finley’s case, each tattoo is a way for her to process the whispers she hears on the wind and the voices who call from within her mind.
Finley Montgomery is the heroine of the latest novel set in The Hollows, an enclave in upstate New York – and the fictional stomping ground of novelist Lisa Unger. The books in this loosely connected series are mainly tied together by the location (with a few reoccurring characters), so readers really can start with any of the books. Finley has previously appeared in short story format, but fans of the series will know her best as Elosie Montgomery’s granddaughter. Both Eloise and Finley have “the gift,” meaning that they possess a psychic ability connecting them to The Hollows. Like her grandmother before her, Ink and Bone gives Finley an opportunity to use her ability to help Jones Cooper solve a local crime.
Abbey Gleason has been missing for almost a year. Her family was shattered when she went missing and now her mother is returning to The Hollows looking for answers. Jones Cooper reaches out to Eloise for help, but this time the visions connected to the case are going directly to Finley. Finley must find a way to reconcile herself with this unwanted ability in order to find the answers the Gleason family so desperately needs.
Each of the novels set in The Hollows has strayed a bit further into the supernatural, but what makes Lisa Unger such a gifted author is her skill in making this otherworldly phenomenon seems so common-place that even readers who are not necessarily fans of such elements latch on to her books. One reason for this is the strength of her characters. These are everyday people readers will want to visit with again and again. Jones Cooper has long been a fan favorite and now having him paired up with Finley – a complex, flawed, yet likeable champion – makes Ink and Bone a fast and furious read. Rainer, Finley’s ex-boyfriend and current tattoo artist is another character readers will long to see more from.
Even with all of this, the novel would fall apart without a compelling mystery at the core. Lisa Unger has an innate ability to tap into the human psyche and she never goes for the easy, expected solution. Abbey’s disappearance at the center of Ink and Bone is no exception. The supernatural elements are equally grounded in some well-researched analysis. Mid-way through the book, Finley’s professor sums it all up very nicely with this comment about her recent term paper:
“I liked your thoughts on how the normal and the paranormal dwell side by side…[h]ow the things we think of as extraordinary or impossible may really just be unexplored aspects of the normal human psyche.”
MD/DC/VA followers: Lisa Unger will be making a few local appearances next week. One at that Catonsville branch of the library on Tuesday and one at the Kent County Library branch on Wednesday. I will be at both events, so please say hi!
Disclaimer: A print version of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.