Child abuse, human trafficking and drugs complicate a murder case in Collier, Montana. When Leanne Adams is stabbed to death outside the home where her eighteen-year-old daughter is living, no one knows why the victim has returned after years of self-exile in Canada and a reputation sullied by scandal and the deaths of four young European women in a sophisticated human-trafficking enterprise.
Grace Adams, still recovering from open-heart surgery, nearly doesnít hear her motherís cries but notices a woman approaching the backyard gate from her upstairs bedroom window. Staring into the yard below, Grace is frozen in shock as she watches a man approach the woman, begin an argument, then stab her to death. By the time paramedics arrive, Grace has gone outdoors, folding herself around her motherís lifeless body, falling snow blanketing their bodies in white. Paramedic Jared Peterson worries that he is too late but locates Graceís faint pulse, concerned by her frailty and the red scar that stands out so brightly against her pale skin.
While the secrets Grace keeps to herself hold the key to the deaths of the four young women transported for profit then killed before Leanne left town and a ring of pedophiles are probably still active in the area, the girl is both a victim of her past and a conduit to the criminals. She refuses to speak about what she knows as Macy Greeley, a detective nearly to term with a pregnancy, attempts to win her confidence. Greeley is also concerned that Grace is still in danger, especially when the home Grace shares with her aunt is broken into and vandalized during the girlís hospitalization after her motherís murder.
The author creates an interesting mix of characters: the psychologically-damaged Grace, who trusts no one and has lived among the most vile of men, a drug-addicted mother, human traffickers and pedophiles; the man quietly pursuing Grace, offering to keep her safe and make her happy while importuning her to keep her powerful secrets; the pregnant detective pursuing a group of violent men while juggling the bulky body just weeks away from delivering a baby whose married father cannot be named; and the paramedic who whisks Grace from the scene of her motherís death to receive immediate medical care, a man who is engaged to one woman but hopelessly addicted to another manís wife.
Crime flourishes in the rural setting of Collier, Montana, where poverty and hardscrabble existence precipitate criminal enterprise. Men conspire to profit from their illegal deeds, fueled by a surfeit of drugs and little likelihood of being discovered as they indulge their private perversions, hiding behind a faÁade of small-town normalcy. There are villains of all types, from the obviously heinous and drug-addled to the businessmen and fathers with families, from well-appointed homes to trash-strewn trailers, like the one where little Grace was raised by an indigent mother. Even now, frail Grace remains an enigma, sometimes strong-willed and always hiding the truth from Greeley, even at the risk of her own life.
Thereís a nice interplay between the characters of Macy and Jared the paramedic, the pair romantically involved in the past, but well beyond any physical attraction and comfortable in their newfound friendship. While concerned with the direction Jaredís obsession with his married lover has taken of late, Macy welcomes his willingness to assist her whenever possible, more than a little vulnerable in her current state when visiting some of the more dangerous areas of Collier. A little eerie, a little strange (thanks to the often creepy behavior of Grace Adams) and certainly mysterious, Bone Dust White is a fine first effort.