Bad to the Bone by Tony J. Forder #BookReview

A skeletal body is unearthed in a wooded area of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. DI James Bliss, together with DC Penny Chandler, investigate the case and discover that the young, female victim had been relocated from its original burial site.
A witness is convinced that a young female was struck by a vehicle back in the summer of 1990, and that police attended the scene. However, no record exists of either the accident or the reported victim. As the case develops, two retired police officers are murdered. The two are linked with others who were on duty at the time a road accident was reported. 
As Bliss and Chandler delve deeper into the investigation, they start to question whether senior officers may have been involved in the murder of the young women who was buried in the woods.
As each link in the chain is put under duress, so is Bliss who clashes with superiors and the media. 
When his team receives targeted warnings, Bliss will need to decide whether to drop the case or to pursue those responsible. Will Bliss walk away in order to keep his career intact or will he fight no matter what the cost? And is it possible the killer is much closer than they imagined?

Many thanks to Bloodhound Books and Sarah Hardy for inviting me to read Bad to the Bone and for sending me an ecopy of the book.
Scream Blue Murder was one of my favourite books last year so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the blog blitz for Tony's latest book, The Scent of Guilt. I was even more delighted to be given the opportunity to read Bad to the Bone, the first book in the DI Bliss series too - I know I have form when it comes to reading books out of sequence but I can't deny it's always a pleasure to actually read them in the correct order.
Bad to the Bone opens with a skeletal body in the woods, DI James (Jimmy) Bliss and DC Penny Chandler are in attendance and suspect the victim has been there for some time. Chandler suggests they ask the 'Bone Woman', renowned anthropologist, Emily Grant to take a look at the skeleton and when she agrees the two detectives receive their first shock in what will be a complex and challenging case. She is able to immediately inform them that the remains were probably dug up and then reburied. Upon further investigation she reveals the victim was killed around fifteen years ago. Bliss and Chandler have a cold case to investigate but things become more sinister when two retired police officers are murdered, it would appear that somebody is very keen for some secrets to remain in the past...
The key characters in an ongoing series are vital to its continued success and in Bliss and Chandler, Tony J. Forder has created a partnership that, for me, is the real highlight of the book. Bliss would almost certainly be described as old school but his respect for his younger colleague, and his desire to help further her career show he is anything but a dinosaur. He is troubled however; haunted by both the murder of his wife and a previous investigation that went terribly wrong and resulted in his suspension, he is a man who is filled with self-doubt and continuously wrestling his inner demons. He is fair and principled but his temper often lands him in hot water with his superiors and when he receives a life-changing medical diagnosis, his mental health is put under further stress. Chandler is very much his rock and one of the few people he trusts, the pair constantly tease each other but beneath the jokes lies a deep friendship and as the book progresses, Penny's own troubles are revealed. This well-rounded characterisation and the rapport between the two detectives meant I became invested in not just the investigation but also the lives of the two protagonists and crucially, at the end of the book I was eager to know what is in store for the pair.
An engrossing plot is paramount too and this is an intriguing thriller that combines the wrongdoings of the past with the very real danger of the current day. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition between the more cerebral, painstaking investigation of the murder and the pulse-racing drama that the investigation triggers in the present. I love a mystery that wrong-foots me, Bad to the Bone did just that and the conclusion to the case is thrillingly tense.
Bad to the Bone is an excellent start to a series, partnerships between the older, troubled detective and a younger female officer are nothing new, of course but with hugely likeable characters and a compelling plot, Tony J. Forder's book is immensely enjoyable and a very welcome addition to the police procedural genre.

Bad to the Bone is published by Bloodhound Books and can be purchased here. Don't miss my review of the second DI Bliss book, The Scent of Guilt, tomorrow!

About the Author

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller Bad to the Bone, the first in a series featuring DI Jimmy Bliss and DC Penny Chandler. The sequel, The Scent of Guilt, is available from 17 February 2018. A third book in the series is currently in progress.
Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but Tony is now considering the possibility of a follow-up.
One book that will definitely see a sequel is Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross and Matt Hilton.
Some years ago, Tony won a short story competition judged by an editor from Pan Books. The story, Gino’s Bar and Grille, went on to be published in Dark Voices 2, part of the celebrated Pan Book of Horror series. Three further short story sales followed: Book End, published in Dark Voices 4, Character Role, in FEAR magazine, and finally A Grim Story, which featured in A Rattler’s Tale. It was the start of Tony’s publishing journey.