In a character-driven novel such as Envy Rots the Bones by Nina Blakeman it seems easy to group the characters into the two broad categories of “good” and “bad.” In this crime/horror novel, there might be one good character, Dr. Todd Davis, and he seems to be a creature more deserving of pity than one possessing good, hero qualities. A medical researcher, he had been married to Annette, a woman despised by everyone, to include her mother. So maybe one could forgive Todd’s indiscretion in falling in love with Faye, a graduate student twenty years his junior. His children, twin daughters Emma and Ella, were troubled enough with the acceptance of Faye as “mom” to support conflicts throughout the novel. That didn’t excuse Faye’s admitted murder of Annette. Maybe Faye could claim self-defense since former wife Annette had kidnapped and tortured Faye with an objective of killing her. But Faye would only admit to the murder to herself, she would not assert a claim of self-defense in any public trial.
The above is in no way a collection of spoilers. These events start the novel. A disgraced researcher, not because of his questionable marital choices but because of his failed research methods, Dr. Todd’s teaching conduct was also unethical. Faye loved him and felt no guilt for the murder. Ella and Emma would each commit some remarkably horrible crimes in pursuit of their own interests. There is even a homicidal Granny who protects an occasional murder-for-fun grandson, Tito. The amazing number of characters, each with unique character defects, will keep readers’ eyes open all the way to the unexpected ending.
Another device that will grab the reader’s attention is vocabulary. Blakeman brings a background rich with personal experiences in professional fields that require “educated jargon.” Words such as jejunum, endothelial, and prostaglandins sent me to the Kindle dictionary to get an idea of what some threats might be. Not all definitions were readily available but this did not take away from the interesting story; their use just served as stumbling blocks preventing me from racing forward to discover the next big context event.
This is an enjoyable medical thriller without the customary blame for everything blamed on a world conspiracy theory led by pharmaceutical company elite rogues. The reader might even come away from the experience with the feeling of something learned. At least there will be new ammunition to be used at the next community Scrabble party.
I developed an interest in this book after reading the free sample on Amazon. It is a bit pricey at USD 5.99 but after completing the read I felt the story was worth the cost.