The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman

July 11th, 2023 Kimberly Review 5 Comments

11th Jul

The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman delivered a locked door mystery in the middle of a snowstorm at Briarwood College. Come see what I enjoyed about this suspenseful thriller.

The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman
The Bones of the Story
by Carol Goodman
Genres: Thriller
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The twisty locked-room mystery from two-time Mary Higgins Clark Award–winning author Carol Goodman, about a group of former classmates trapped on their college campus—with a murderer among them.

It’s been twenty-five years since the shocking disappearance of a female student and the distinguished Creative Writing professor who died while searching for her. The Briarwood College community has never forgotten the double tragedy. Now, the college President is bringing together faculty, donors, and alumni to honor the victims from all those years ago.

On a cold December weekend after the fall semester has ended, guests gather on the vacant campus for the commemoratory event. But as a storm descends, people begin to depart, leaving a group of alumni who were the last ones taught by the esteemed professor. Recriminations and old rivalries flare as they recall the writing projects they shared as classmates, including chilling horror stories they each wrote about their greatest fears.

When an alumna dies in a shockingly similar way to the story she wrote, and then another succumbs to a similar fate, they realize someone has decided at long last to avenge the crimes of the past. Will the secret of what they did twenty-five years ago be revealed? Will any of them be alive at the end of the weekend to find out?


I enjoy locked door mysteries from Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley, so I was curious to dive into The Bones of the Story. The tale takes place in both the then and the now at Briarwood College.

Twenty-five years ago, a student went missing in the caves, and a Creative Writing professor perished while searching for her. Now, the current president of the college has gathered faculty, donors, and alumni to honor the victims. It’s December and days before the event, a student accidentally discovers the body of the missing student.

The tale is told from the perspective of Nell Portman, the Dean of the college. This was a slow-building suspense thriller with characters who have changed from college students to adults. Not all were likeable, and Nell’s perspective wasn’t always reliable.

All those years ago, Nell was a scholarship student who never felt like she belonged. Imposter syndrome. She worked hard to become a part of the creative writing group who worked with the deceased professor.

This was a clever tale, that shared college life, the friendships and the pressures of being part of Hugo Moss’ fellowship. In the then we built towards learning what happened twenty-five years ago and getting to know all the players. In the now, we have the unearthed body and the realization that this group of alumni have a secret pact.

As the snowstorm builds, the group finds themselves cut off from the outside world. That is when the murders begin… each more gruesome than the last and seemly tied to stories they wrote their senior year. It seems everyone involved in the secret all those years ago is being picked off, one by one.

The story took a while to gain traction and had quite the cast of characters to keep track of. Goodman entertains, though, with clever twists and reveals. While I don’t think it offered anything fresh in terms of a locked door mystery, I enjoyed the tale that unfolded and will read Goodman again.

Amazon | Audible

The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman delivered a locked door mystery. #NewRelease #mystery #suspensethriller #bookreview Click To Tweet

About Carol Goodman

Carol Goodman

Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Seduction of Water, which won the Hammett Prize, The Widow's House, which won the Mary Higgins Clark Award and The Night Visitors, which won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also the co-author, with her husband Lee Slonimsky, of the Watchtower fantasy trilogy. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latte, The Midwest Quarterly, and Other Voices. After graduation from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several years in Austin, Texas. She then received an M.F.A. in fiction from the New School University. Goodman currently teaches literature and writing at The New School and SUNY New Paltz and lives with her family in the Hudson Valley.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

5 Responses to “The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman”

  1. Katherine

    I like locked room style mysteries and any time a group of characters are cut off from the outside world I’m usually intrigued. This sounds good but maybe not quite as good as it could be. I’ll have to look for this one but will keep in mind that it’s a bit slow paced.