Title of book: Liquid Bones
Author: Cassandra Zaruba
Author Website: http://www.cassandrazaruba.com
Website of Publisher: http://www.publishamerica.com
Publication date: 2006
Length: 288 Pages
In the opening scene we hear how the killer who calls himself the Emperor of Ice Cream, murders his first victim. It’s a spur of the moment, opportunist killing, that is to turn him into a serial killer who later plans his every move.
The main character, Emilia Monteneau, is travelling to see her dying Aunt Cynthia, who is dying of cancer. It may be the last time she sees her alive. During her journey her car breaks down in North Dakota, and then something happens to change the rest of her life.
Emilia is later found sprawled across the driver’s seat of her own car, by a group of snowboarders. At first they drive on past, but one man, Caleb is blessed, (or should that be cursed?), with a psychic sixth sense. When something doesn’t seem quite right, he forces his friends to stop the car and take a look inside. After much debating; how it would look to others, and what Emilia would think upon wakening in a strange place with strangers, the group of friends decide to take the unconscious Emilia home with them, fearing she could die if left alone in her car in such freezing temperatures.
When Emilia awakes she meets Caleb, Luke and Gavin (the snowboarders) and they explain why she is there. She thanks them for their help, and Luke even pays for her car to get fixed so she can carry on with her journey and visit her Aunty. Unfortunately, her Aunty doesn’t live for much longer, and Armand her Aunt’s boyfriend, forces her out of their house practically the day after her Aunt Cynthia dies. To add to her frustrations, Emilia calls her work, only to hear she is getting laid off. With no job, no money, and no ties back home in Springfield, Illinois, Luke asks her to stay with them, until she can get herself sorted again. She accepts and stays in the area, but when Gavin goes missing it is clear Emilia has more to worry about than just getting a job.
Later, Caleb goes on a retreat to find himself, and work out what his psychic visions mean. They keep happening, but he doesn’t know why, although, he is sure Emilia is the key to Gavin’s disappearance. In fact, his ESP has known something is wrong since the first day they found Emilia unconscious in her car…
I must say, at first, the way this book is written surprised me. I love first person narrative books, and Cassandra Zaruba has not only written Liquid Bones in first person, but from the viewpoint of all her characters. Once I got the hang of it, I was not disappointed. In fact, I applaud her for her talent, quickly seeing the benefits of sharing each individual character’s thoughts and feelings. I think, along with the exciting plot, that’s what made this such a terrific, gripping story. One which I didn’t want to end.
Not only do you get suspense and horror, there is also a realistic love story between Luke and Emilia, but the author hasn’t made it easy for the two lovers; they have a lot to get through if their love for each other is going to survive. The killer calls himself the Emperor of Ice cream, and his fascination for Kroeger’s poems make an additional layer of interest to look out for! I can’t say anything else, as I don’t want to spoil it for you.
I’m looking forward to seeing more work from Cassandra Zaruba, as she has proved herself to write well and produce an intelligent read, which keep me engrossed to the chilling end.
About the Author:
Cassandra Zaruba grew up in Baltimore and received a BA in English from
the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her short story, ‘Keeper
of the Crows’ won a Creative Writing prize from HoCoPoLitSo in 2000. She lives in Laurel, Maryland, where she is at work on her next novel.