Carved in Bone

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

My first Michael Nava book....AMAZING! I’m having a hard time processing this book due to both its stark and beautiful prose, and the setting Nava chose for his mystery: San Francisco, 1984..

The tale spins out in a split narrative—one of Henry Rios, who is investigating a death insurance claim; one of Bill Ryan, the recently deceased. 

Nava paints a picture of San Francisco full of hedonistic pleasure contrasted against the devastating rise of AIDS in the gay community. His characters are not only living in this world, but also trying to make sense of it. Bill, through drink and obsessive love; Henry through sober lens and his sponsor. 

Both storylines drew me into the lives of the men they depicted—men who walked with flaws and tried their best to overcome them. As Nava spins his tale, the mystery slowly unwinds and I admit that I thought I had it figured out, until I didn’t. It’s always a pleasure to be wrong in guessing the full mystery. 

I won’t go into a description of the book, for that you have the blurb. I’ll simply say that this book does have heart, love, romance, mystery, pain, and death. It’s also a book deeply moving due to the magnitude and effects of AIDS on the gay community. It’s a time when I came of age myself. It’s a time when I lived in the Castro and I could only see this fictional account too vividly in the streets of my neighborhood. 

Read it. 

**ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review**
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Another great mystery by Michael Nava.  Having lived in San Francisco during the time the book was set, it largely rang true and took be back to that time.  Free and open sex, living in an open GLBT supportive environment and the start of the AIDS epidemic.  I smiled. laughed and cried remembering it all.  Love mysteries and those with realistic GLBTQ characters even more.  Well written and engaging.  Interesting plot twist.
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Henry Rios returns in a case that seems less pressing than his usual criminal defense work - it's a simple insurance investigation. But things, of course, are not so simple. At the heart of the novel is the way AIDS devastated the gay community in San Francisco, and the way homophobia has devastated lives and twisted identities touched by homophobia. There are romantic bits I skipped, not because it was about non-binary sex but because I always skip the sexy bits, but the way self-hatred distorts the life of one main character and the way Henry strives to do the right thing was profoundly moving as was the evocation of a time when all the freedom and joy gay men had fought for by creating a community was besieged by a disease that seemed to hate them. I was thrilled to see Henry Rios back.
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I first became familiar with Henry Rios back in the 90s and was thrilled to find this new adventure-- 20 years in the making. Michael Nava brings such depth and fullness to his characters that I was fully engrossed within just a few pages. Wonderful storytelling and memorable read!  I sure hope Nava brings more to this series in the future.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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FYI: The book #8 chronologically takes place between #2 and #3, so if you have just started with the series you could read it after The Little Death).

I am SOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY that Michael Nava reconsidered his last statement about The Henry Rios Mysteries series...



(just to remind you,
--> the statement: "This book (meant #7) brings to an end this series of mysteries and my career as a mystery writer."

and...

--> my reaction: ...-->......-->...)


This book made me happy (just the existence of it), but also VERY VERY sad. I cried while reading the last pages. But it is understandable: AIDS and the early 80s, a fateful period of time not only for a LGBT community, but for the whole humanity. A difficult topic to deal with, a difficult topic to write about . To read about this time from our present level of knowledge is...not easy, heartbreaking and painful.

There are two plot-lines : the first one is focused on Henry and his battle the inner demons, the other one is the background story of his case: Henry takes a side job in an insurance claim. An excellent writing, a very compelling and emotional novel. I am so happy to see/meet Henry again.
Don't read all the reviews, just read this series.
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Carved in Bone is a gripping, unflinching exploration of the gay male community in San Francisco's Castro District in the 1970s and 1980s. 

The book follows two compelling storylines that are connected, one a young man in the 70s who arrives in the Castro after being cast out of his home in Eden Plains, IL, the other a man in the 1980s rebuilding his life and career after alcoholism nearly destroyed him. Both men are struggling to find love and meaning in a community that has completely thrown away the standards of heteronormative society. 

As someone who initially came out as a gay man in Atlanta in the 1980s (but later came out as a trans woman), I found so much of this story hauntingly familiar and accurate, particularly the trauma of being othered and cast out, the substance abuse and compulsive sexual behaviors, the looming threat of AIDS, etc. At the same time, Nava shows the humanity, vulnerability, and incredible compassion of the citizens of this community. 

My only criticism of this story is that it was billed as a mystery. But to be honest, the mystery storyline seemed almost an afterthought, barely even a subplot. But that is more a problem of marketing than storytelling. The story is about these two men, the internal demons they fought, and how their lives tragically connected.

I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy learning about the triumph of the human spirit against the brutal challenges of oppression, trauma, and despair.
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Rounded up from 4 1/2 stars. Attorney Henry Rios takes on a side job as an insurance claim inspector. When he is assigned to investigate the death of a gay man living in San Francisco we learn about the man & his partner. The story takes place during the mid 80’s with flash backs to the 70’s. Due to the time frame the AIDS crisis is Featured heavily. I found the overall story grabbed my attention from beginning to end though the actual “mystery” behind the investigation was not nearly as interesting as the characters & their story. I highly recommend this book. Thank you too Netgalley & the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy.
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No spoilers, which is very hard. I want to unpack this book so bad, but I will wait and do it in person.  

That said I am simply delighted to be reading a new Henry Rios novel. I have devoured every one of Michael Nava's criminal lawyer turned murder solver Henry Rios' stories about an intelligent, complicated man who is gay, Hispanic, a recovering alcoholic, and struggling to find his place in the world. It's a beautiful series. I was so happy and grateful when Nava rewrote his first novel, The Little Death - packing it with what he couldn't originally say in 1986 which became the 2016 novel, [book:Lay Your Sleeping Head|33790571]. Now in 2019, Nava prepares to release a brand-new mystery. But instead of having it take place in present time, Nava sandwiches it between books 1 and 2. So Henry is in San Francisco during the beginning of the AIDS crisis. Nava also parallels the story of the victim who came to the bay area ten years earlier. 

The genius of this book goes beyond another Henry Rios novel. For me that would have been enough. But Nava presents us with a story that twists and turns into something I've never read before in mystery. And he reminds us how far we've come in our struggle as LGBT folk and how grateful we should be - those of us who survived the AIDS epidemic. His story does all of that and more. 

I'm in awe. Thank you Persigo Press and Net Galley for giving me [author:Michael Nava|306882] who hit it out of the park. Mystery readers, LGBT literature lovers, social history buffs, and more - run to your library or bookstore on October 1, 2019.
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It's very nice to have a Michael Nava novel to read again. I missed him. Carved in Bone coves a time in San Francisco that I lived through, so it hit home in so many ways. There was a collective reaction to the AIDS epidemic, and then, of course, individuals had their own reactions. The author has done a wonderful job of conveying the love and heartbreak, but it sure was hard reading some of the feelings that he artfully describes,

I do have some minor quibbles. There was only one kind of jeans worn by gay men then- Levi 501's. The first time it is mentioned, the print says 510, not 501, but later it is used again, correctly.
Why change the name of the Catholic Church in the Castro? I didn't understand that.
Finally, the picture of KS lesions posted in the pharmacy window that announced the epidemic to many who had not yet heard of it was the Star Pharmacy. Later it became a Walgreen's, but why not be accurate? It was a pretty big deal
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Henry Rios, an unsuccessful lawyer who has joined AA to turn his life around, is trying to find a way to come to terms with his self image as a gay man.  He takes a part time job as an insurance investigator who is seeking answers regarding the recent death of a gay man.  In so doing, he uncovers the life of the deceased and his lover.  Set in San Francisco in the early 80's, Neva gives a good portrait of city and its gay men under siege by the impending AIDS epidemic.  His characters are well developed.  One is concerned about the characters.  He does a good job in employing plot twists to the mystery.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me this ebook.
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3.75 stars

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and although it’s 8th in a series, I had no trouble following the story. There were a few times I felt I would’ve got more out of the story if I knew Henry Rios better, but overall it didn’t matter.

The story alternates between Billy’s point of view and Harry’s. Bill’s parts are told in third person, and Harry’s in first. 

As an eighties child, I enjoy books set in that era, but other than the abject fear of AIDS at that time, not a lot about the story sets it aside from a modern story.

There’s a crime to be solved, but nothing that involves too much thinking as a good deal of it is spelled out.
My biggest gripe was the bi-erasure. Rather than harp on about bisexuality, a sexual orientation that was recognised long ago , I‘m giving the narrator the benefit of the doubt that he was (clearly) ignorant.
Gripe aside, overall this is an entertaining read.

Copy obtained via the ‘read now’ section on NetGalley.
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