Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘The Comfort of Distance’ by Ryburn Dobbs organised by Love Book Tours. I hope that you will check out both the author and the book, as well as the rest of the blogs involved in the tour.
Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’
Sgt Hank LeGris stares down at the crushed and gaping skull in the dirt. It’s the second time in just a few weeks that human remains have been found in the Black Hills. Citizens are getting restless. Is it a rogue mountain lion, as many people suspect? Or something even more sinister?
Sebastien Grey is a brilliant forensic anthropologist with debilitating social phobia. When he is asked by his estranged brother to come to South Dakota and help identify who, or what is leaving body parts scattered across the county, he discovers much more than the cause of these strange deaths.
The Comfort of Distance had an interesting premise, especially as I have a fondness for crime fiction that focuses on a different aspect of the investigation which this one does with its inclusion and focus on forensic anthropology. The author clearly knew what he was writing about, and the anthropology parts were rich and detailed, and although there were a few places where it might be a little too technical, this was a fascinating aspect that really set the book apart. For me personally, I love that level of detail and find that it only adds to the realism of the narrative.
However, where this book really shines is with its characters. Sebastien was a fascinating character who really carried the book, not just with his knowledge and experience of forensic anthropology but with his personality, and with the growth that we see throughout the book. He was intellectually gifted, passionate about his specialism, and this was paired with a man who was socially awkward and anxious, and both sides of him were written beautifully and realistically. His brother Hank was very different, and I enjoyed seeing how these two contrasting personalities learned to work together, and it made for a very interesting dynamic, especially as the author balanced professional and personal life very well throughout the book.
The supporting cast isn’t forgotten in the slightest, written with careful and believable detail to flesh out the world and story, and while they were not necessarily likeable, they each brought something essential to the story. They were introduced fairly rapidly and across a variety of scenes, so it can be a little difficult to get them all straight in the beginning, but it doesn’t take long for their voices to shine through, and to see the development. Beyond the mystery and police investigation, this is a very human story, and that is because of the characters and reflected in how they are written.
The Comfort of Distance is well written and engrossing, but I would not say it is a fast-paced or gripping crime story in the typical sense, and that is not a bad thing. In the beginning, the prologue hooks us immediately into the story, setting the tone for the writing and the scene that we find ourselves in, however, the rest of the book is more of a slow burn read. This is about the investigation, and that has the details and information that requires a slower pace, which when paired with the human aspect of the story – the characters and their lives beyond the investigation – again which necessitates that slow burn in order to gain the depth and development that makes this book so enjoyable. However, that is not to say that the author doesn’t include moments of tension, particularly those set in the mountains, which in many ways are heightened against the slower, softer background. This is paired with shorter chapters, which keep the pacing moving and make for an easy read. So, while this is not action-packed, it is still an engrossing read.
I very much enjoyed The Comfort of Distance, it was readable and believable and had a brilliant cast of characters, and I am delighted that this is the first in the series so we will get to see more of Sebastien in the future.
About the Author:
Ryburn Dobbs taught biological anthropology and forensic anthropology at several colleges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and spent ten years as a forensic anthropologist, working dozens of death investigations. In addition to his anthropological pursuits, Ryburn also worked as an investigative analyst specializing in homicides and unsolved cases.
The Comfort of Distance is Ryburn’s first novel and the first in the Sebastien Grey series.
The Comfort of Distance – Ryburn Dobbs – **** (4/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.