Behind the Bonehouse


“With elegant prose and graceful storytelling, Sally Wright delivers another compelling novel set in the beautiful horse country of Kentucky. Although there’s plenty of mystery afoot, family is at the heart of this tale. Wright does a fine job balancing the competing forces of love and resentment that seem to define all families. Readers of her previous work will savor another visit with old friends and delight in following the threads of the past that, for better or for worse, intricately weave together the lives of her characters and the land they call home.” – William Kent Krueger

The last year got away from me. I intended to write little messages, or pass on interesting quotes every month, but I did six months of chemo and worked on finishing Behind The Bonehouse, the second Jo Grant horse country mystery, and that’s all that got done.

It’s a book that connects to my past and my present, and maybe predicts my future. And yet the idea didn’t come to me quickly or easily. I finished Breeding Ground in August 2013 and had no idea what to write next.

Days when I’m not writing, or revising, or planning a new book, aren’t nearly as interesting as ones when I’m working. Thinking about the people in my head, and what I’m going to do to them next, keeps me from fixating on the people I love in real life, and my own miraculously slow-growing metastatic pancreatic cancer, which can take up too much of my time.

So when I didn’t have any idea what to write about next I told God that if he wanted me to write another book he’d have to give me an idea, because I clearly didn’t have one of my own.

When I woke up the next morning I started thinking about my parents, and the countless crises we’d lived through with our small scientific family business. Dad was an orphan, raised in an orphanage (he never complained about) from 1912-1929, which taught him to look adversity in the eye and pick himself up and move on. But what he went through, a few years after he’d started his business – the traitorous attack by two people he trusted – gave me the idea I needed. The self-seeking viciousness of it is still fascinating forty years on, and I saw a way to use it – not in a chemistry-based business like my dad’s, but in the equine pharmaceutical business where Jo Grant’s new husband, Alan Munro, runs the lab and the plant. And of course, I, having the world view I have, saw that memory, when I opened my eyes, as a definite gift from God.

There’s death, there’s danger, there’s a badly functioning legal system, everything Jo and Alan ever hope to have is in danger of being lost, but all of that gets looked at, and a great deal more besides, through the lens of family entanglement – the stresses, the joys, the potential for torment as well as contentment and mercy. Bonehouse looks at the strains and the blessings we all face if we live long enough, while we try to love our families and our neighbors as well.

Spencer, and Jack, and Buddy, and Toss, and Charlie Smalls from Breeding Ground are caught up again in what happens to Jo and Alan, and I really liked spending time with them. I care about these characters, and I care about their horses. And writing about them gives me a chance to dwell on the years I had my own horses and spent time with them every day. I still dream about Max (who’s in Watches Of The Night), the gelding I connected with most, three or four times a week. Writing the Jo Grant books lets me spend time reliving my years with him, and the trainers and riders too, who taught me everything I know.

Behind The Bonehouse means a lot to me, and I hope it sticks in your mind too, and gives you interesting questions to think about while you picture the people and places for yourself and wonder what’ll happen next.
“For fans who loved Sally Wright’s BREEDING GROUND and the Munros, BEHIND THE BONEHOUSE is an exciting new mystery you won’t want to miss. For those who don’t know her work, Wright gives us a story of Kentucky horse country that’s articulate and frighteningly possible, a setting that is pitch perfect, and characters who step right off the page. BEHIND THE BONEHOUSE is a bittersweet look at people you care about and want to win, a novel you won’t soon forget.”  – Charles Todd

Sally Wright has done it again with Behindthe Bonehouse! This book really grabbed me and held me; I literally couldnot put it down and the plot is a hum-dinger!  
The author further develops the lives and stories of the charactersintroduced in Breeding Ground, andthe time and place in which they live and work–the Kentucky horse breedingcountry of the l960s. The portrayal of rural small town America, the equinepharmaceutical business, and law enforcement & investigation of the time ringstrue, as do the equestrian details. So does the sidebar tale of the O.S.S. anduncovering the truth about an old betrayal in Occupied France during WWII.
Susan Harris
 In BEHIND THE BONEHOUSE, her second Jo Grant novel, Sally Wright returns to Kentucky’s horse country and to the extended cast of characters she handled so well in BREEDING GROUND. It’s still the early 1960s, and Wright’s architect protagonist, now Jo Munro, must counter threats against her husband Alan and their first child in this fast moving and movingly written novel.
 
Set against convincing backgrounds of the equine pharmaceutical industry and the rural Kentucky legal system, BEHIND THE BONEHOUSE captures the frustration and powerlessness of an innocent family caught first in the web of an ingenious plot and then in the slow machinery of the law. In addition, Wright considers the continuing struggles of damaged veterans to adjust to a postwar world, a favorite theme, and she illuminates a dark corner of human nature: the stubborn refusal to forgive or to be forgiven.
 
Terence Faherty, Edgar Alan Poe Award Finalist (Owen Keane series) and two time winner of the Shamus Award (Scott Elliott series)

 June 2016