Angela Marson’s Broken Bones begins on Christmas day with a teenage girl being pushed off a building. A few days later, D.I. Kim Stone, after a 14-hour shift, finds a baby outside the police station a night in the freezing cold. Actually we don’t know she found a baby in Chapter 1, what we do know is this:
‘No bloody way,’ she whispered, taking two steps forward. ‘Oh shit,’ she said, as she stepped into the light.
The baby reveal isn’t until Chapter 3. Since Stone found the baby late a night, she has to keep custody of the baby till social services arrives. And, get this, she has no idea what to do with a baby. And, get this, she calls in her team to help her take care of the baby. Okay, all of this might be funnier if I had read the first six installments of the Kim Stone series, but reading these first few chapters, I was a bit disappointed with such blatant and bad use of can’t-take-care-of-a-baby trope. And just imagine how pissed you’d be if your boss called you back into to the office to help with a baby. Her team, however, was not.
The folks over at TV Tropes define tropes as such, “A trope is a storytelling device or convention, a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognize.” They go on to say, “They may be brand new but seem trite and hackneyed; they may be thousands of years old but seem fresh and new. They are not bad, they are not good…” This is the rub; every writer uses tropes, but it is the good stories that the tropes disappear unnoticed by the reader. The bad stories, not so much. Broken Bones is filled with tropes – a teenage runaway, a risk-taking police detective, a gruff boss that gives his cop leeway, etc. – all of them sticking out like a teenager’s blemish.
Almost every chapter in Broken Bones wrapped up with a dramatic ending such as “And there was something she still hadn’t told her team” or “His gaze followed her as she tottered away, his face full of murderous thunder”. It got so bad that at the end of every chapter, I would hum “dun dun dun” out loud.
Angela Marsons is quite a popular crime fiction author. At the time of this writing, Broken Bones is 18th on Amazon’s Noir ebook best seller list while books that are much better such as Marietta Miles’ May and Matt Phillips’ Accidental Outlaws are #1017 and #1233 on that same list. Basically all of my complaints about Broken Bones are what makes this book a bestseller. Obviously, I’m just faking it here.
The dun-dun-dun music clip is licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). You can find it here at Orange Free Sounds.