Lies in Bone

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 21 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 09 Jan 2022

Talking about this book? Use #LiesinBone #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Told by a tart-tongued young woman with a love of Bruce Springsteen, Lies in Bone is at once a mystery and coming-of-age tale fueled by dark secrets involving love, murder, and the truths worth lying for.

On Halloween 1963, eleven-year-old Chuck Coolidge and his brother Danny are lost in a toxic smog covering the steel town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. When the smog lifts, half the town is sick and twenty people are dead. And Danny is missing.

Now, over twenty years later, Chuck's teenage daughter Frank plots escape from this "busted and disgusted" town. When a murdered child is found in the river, investigators link the crime to the disappearance of Danny in '63, and Frank's life is turned upside down. In the face of her worst fears, she must uncover her family's dark past if she wants to keep her sister Boots from the hands of The State. Led to discover the unimaginable truth about Danny's disappearance, Lies in Bone culminates in a shocking eleventh-hour reveal and an emotionally charged finale.

Told by a tart-tongued young woman with a love of Bruce Springsteen, Lies in Bone is at once a mystery and coming-of-age tale fueled by dark secrets involving love, murder, and the truths worth lying...

Advance Praise

"The fantastic, fallible characters leap to life in these dialogue-filled pages and draw readers into an immersive world involving mysteries of missing children, mental illness and unsolved murders. A gripping tale of outcasts that keeps you guessing and, more importantly, caring how it will unspool. Mystic River meets Stranger Things in this engrossing debut novel."

—Lane DeGregory, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, "The Girl in the Window"

"A moody, hard-edged coming-of-age story that keeps the horrors coming until the very end."

—Kirkus Reviews

"...Fierce teen protagonist, Frances "Frank" Coolidge... impolite, foul-mouthed, self-mutilating and rebellious, and she's loving, loyal and has backbone to spare; a female Steve McQueen, a young Sarah Conner; totally icon-worthy. A heart-stopping work of suspense fiction... a tour de force of friendship, love and redemption. Organically woven and expertly balanced, Lies in Bone lightens the load of its heavy subject matter with quirky northern town humor. Gritty, campy and dark wit and, especially, a keen grasp of family dysfunction and its many varieties, all add to Lies in Bone's hypnotically page-turning appeal..."

—Julie Garisto, 83 Degrees Media

"Symons's language crackles and sparks..."

—Diane Chiddister, author of One More Day

"This extraordinary story...refused to leave my thoughts for even a moment until I reached its explosive conclusion. Lies in Bone is dark, tough and visceral, and it's rich with twists, turns and breathless suspense—the very definition of a page-tuner."

—Bill DeYoung, St. Pete Catalyst

"Finally, a heroine of substance growing into her own magnificence, bearing witness to the unspeakable with bravery outpacing her years. A tale told with unapologetic realism and voice crafted with skill and humanity."

—Lori D. Shannon, author of Superwoman Died Tonight

"Dickensian in the best sense of the word, Lies in Bone is a novel that grabs the reader and does not let go."

—Paul Wilborn, author of Cigar City

"Gripping and dark, Lies in Bone so precisely captures the angst of long hidden secrets and dysfunction—the slow, corrosive descents and the hard-won triumphs. To me, the most disturbing thrillers are the ones that are all too plausible—almost familiar. Consider me disturbed."

—Cindy Stovall, Beauty & the 'Burg Podcast

"Symons displays her adept playwrighting skills with earthy dialogue that flows effortlessly...I'm reminded of the way Joan Didion writes about similar The Year of Magical Thinking, but in this one, we have an intriguing mystery thriller on our hands...This small-town mystery with family ties is an engaging and at-times humorous literary thriller."

—Frank Pizzori, Independent Book Review

"Lies in Bone is a spellbinder...The book just refuses to be put down.."

—Readers' Favorite 5-Star Review

"You will want to read Lies in Bone all in one sitting - but don't cheat yourself out of moving fully through the evolution of the story in its own time. An extraordinarily satisfying work."

—Roxanne Fay, author of Upon this Rock: The Magdalene Speaks

"A serious new novelist whose work cannot be ignored."

—Greg Fields, author of Through the Waters and the Wild

"The melancholic force of Lies in Bone will hold you hostage. The humor in this gritty, coming-of-age mystery is driven by a whip smart young heroine like none other."

—Hannah Benitez, author of Dike

"The fantastic, fallible characters leap to life in these dialogue-filled pages and draw readers into an immersive world involving mysteries of missing children, mental illness and unsolved murders...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781633375109
PRICE $9.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 17 members

Featured Reviews

Thank you Publisher, NetGalley and Author for this advance ebook copy in return for an honest review!

Lies in Bone by Natalie Symons was really something amazing!
This was one heck of a story and I'm so honored I was able to read a advanced ebook copy!

This is the type of coming-of-age story that I freaking can get into. The mystery, the plot, this storytelling is something outstanding!

Our protagonist Frank a teenage daughter to Chuck is a badass! She sets out to discover what happened twenty years ago to her dads brother and this crazy old town she calls home!

This dark extraordinary story had me so intrigued I didn't want this one to end! And to me that deserves a five star rating in my book!!!
This small town has a mystery and I loved how intense it got!
The characters are all amazing and dysfunctional. The setting is freaking creepy and wild!
And to top it all Symons writing is fabulous and one I was glued to till the very end of this story!
She is brilliant at building up the tension to breaking point and the creepy setting really adds to the atmosphere. Awesome job here!.

Was this review helpful?

This was a wild ride and I loved it, such a gripping read with a really cool gothic feel with vivid imagery i actually felt like i was in the smog alongside them. it was creepy, it was intense it was perfect.

Was this review helpful?

Lies In Bones is a disturbing mystery but a realistic view of murder. The main character, Frank ( who is a young girl ) and her sister Boots are unhappy after their father moves them to his mothers because their mother up and left. She and her sister try to make the best of it but there are dark secrets that Frank knows nothing about. Why has her mother left them? What is the smog that came and went? What happened to Chuck?
Her father,Danny, was with his brother on a Halloween night when they were kids and the brother went missing. No one knows what happened but the town and Danny’s mother blame him.
This is an involved story and the reader is hooked to find out all that is going on. A book you won’t forget!

Was this review helpful?

In October 1963, two brothers are out for bike rides clad in their Halloween costumes as a fog rolls into town. Chuck, dressed as Spiderman, loses track of younger brother Danny, dressed as Huckleberry Hound. He is lost and the truth of what happened to Danny would remain a mystery. In December 1987, Chuck Coolidge and his two daughters head back to Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania to care for his ill mother who has never gotten over the loss of Danny. Teenage Frances “Frank” is unhappy to move to this rundown town. But she promised her mother, who left the family, that she’d always care for her younger sister Megan “Boots”. The residents of Slippery Elm don’t welcome Chuck back with open arms as people have long thought he was responsible for the death of his younger brother and another young boy found dead in the woods soon after. When another child turns up murdered, old wounds open up and growing up becomes harder than ever for Frank.

Lies in Bone is the type of book that once you start it, you can’t put it down. The characters are unforgettable, starting with teenage Frances “Frank” Coolidge, who has to become the grownup in the family far too early. She is forced to face life’s ugliness including the aftermath of a local murder. Author Natalie Symons skillfully presents the darkness and despair of Slippery Elm, a once prosperous town that has been deteriorating since the closing of its steel mill. You can envision the crumbling, boarded-up buildings and once stately homes. Even during her darkest days, Frank remains tough and resilient, with the ever-present music of Bruce Springsteen to help her along.

This is a beautifully-written debut novel. At its heart, it’s a moving coming-of-age story yet it is also a compelling murder mystery filled with lots of suspense. Do yourself a favor and read it.

Was this review helpful?

"His words cut into me like a blade tearing flesh. But I refused to bleed."

If Bruce Springsteen and Stephen King
co-wrote a psychological thriller it would be Lies in Bone by debut author Natalie Symons. Her words, her turn of a phrase, her dialogue and her storytelling are akin to the best of songwriters and novelists.

I don't know how to do justice to the heartbreaking, frightening, and bittersweet story of sisters Frank (Frances) and Boots (Megan) and their never stood a chance father Chuck except to say that I had such a visceral experience reading this book that by the end I was shaking and had tears streaming down my face.

The opening is chilling as we meet 11 year old Chuck riding his bike with younger brother Danny on Halloween in 1963. Out of nowhere a toxic fog covers their small mining town. When it clears half the town is deathly ill, many are dead and young Danny is missing.

Over 20 years later Chuck is raising his teen daughter Frank and little sister Boots on his own. They move back to the town that considers Chuck a murderer, wishes it was Chuck instead of Danny that disappeared and encounter a sweet little girl named Bernie that will break everyone's heart.

Frank quickly figures out, as she listens to Springsteen, that it's a "town full of losers." As she tries to figure out what really happened to Danny we meet a cast of original characters worthy of any found in a 1,000 page King novel or Springsteen New Jersey saga. They are at once fascinating and despicable except Ray. A true best friend for Frank.

The startling reveals are shocking and yet not unrealistic. I was often surprised and had to remind myself to keep breathing. Frank is a stoic heroine I am honored to know.

If you read only one more book make it Lies In Bone. It will remind you why you love writers and reading books.

I received a free copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

Heartbreaking story of love and family and survival and resilience with memorable characters and vivid descriptions it is also the story of The disappearance and murder of young children over a period of a few decades

Was this review helpful?

There was a lot to unpack with this book, but it was designed to be so. The lead character, Frank and her sister Boots lead a very unsteady childhood after their mother departs and they are left with their father. Frank is forced to mature faster than most children as she is faced with loss, adversity, and many other mature themes. The grittiness of the time period, the loss of a mother, a distant father, and attempting to unravel the past made for a very interesting read and one that leaves the reader uncomfortable and reaching for the next page.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own!

I've seen this debut novel on bookstagram a few times, with great reviews. It sounded like one I'd like and I'm happy to say it was definitely awesome. This story builds in suspense as you read. The characters are well developed and there are many twists and turns I was not expecting. 

Taking place in the small town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. In 1963, Chuck and his brother Danny are biking through the woods that are thick with toxic fog from the steel town. When the fog lifts, Danny is nowhere to be found. What really happened to Danny has remained a mystery, even after his body is found years later.

In 1987, Chuck and his 2 daughters head back to Slippery Elm to care for his sick mother that's never gotten over the loss of her son Danny. The town is not happy to have him back, thinking he had something to do with the death of his brother. When another child is found dead in the woods soon after they arrive, Frances (Frank), Chuck's older daughter sets out to find the truth about what happened so long ago. 

I loved how the author wrote the town if Slippery Elm. The town has been deteriorating throughout the years, and is like a character in itself. There are many characters in this book, and I loved following Frank's compelling journey through the book to find out the truth. 

So good. If you love True Crime, and thrillers, you will definitely enjoy this one I think.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: