Beastly Bones (Jackaby Series #2)

Beastly Bones (Jackaby Series #2)

by William Ritter


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“I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .”

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

Beastly Bones, the second installment in the series, delivers the same quirky humor and unforgettable characters as Jackaby, the book the Chicago Tribune called “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

A 2016 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Title


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616206369
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication date: 08/02/2016
Series: Jackaby Series , #2
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 85,309
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

William Ritter began writing the Jackaby series in the middle of the night when his son was still an infant. After getting up to care for him, Will would lie awake, his mind creating rich worlds and fantasies—such as the one in New Fiddleham. Will lives and teaches in Springfield, Oregon. 

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“Follow my lead, Miss Rook,” Jackaby said, rapping on the ornately trimmed door to 1206 Campbell Street. Were my employer a standard private investigator, those might have been simple instructions, but in the time I’ve been his assistant, I’ve found very little about Jackaby to be standard. Following his lead tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.

Tall and lanky, Jackaby swam in his long, brown coat. It looked like it might have once been an expensive garment, but it was now battered and affixed inside and out with myriad clinking, jingling pockets and pouches, each loaded with trinkets and tools he insisted were essential to his work. Around his neck he had wound a ludicrously long scarf, the ends of which brushed the cobblestones as he walked.

On his head, stuffed over a dark mess of wild hair, was the main offender. Jackaby’s cap, the knit monstrosity, was a patternless composite of uneven stitches and colors. The threads clashed with his scarf. They clashed with his coat. They even clashed with one another. Alone on a hat rack, the thing would have looked mismatched.

Jackaby was not an ugly man. He kept himself clean-shaven, and always seemed to smell of cloves and cinnamon. In a fine suit and tie he might have been downright attractive to the right sort of girl, but in his preferred garb he looked, by all accounts, like an eccentric lunatic. He was fond of reminding me that “appearances aren’t everything,” but I dare say they aren’t nothing, either. My employer can be single-minded about some things. Most things, in fact.

The woman who answered the door appeared far too overwhelmed by her own concerns to bother about silly hats, anyway. Jackaby and I soon found ourselves ushered past the threshold and into an elegantly furnished sitting room. The house looked like so many of the regal English manors to which my mother had dragged me as a child. My father was a bit of an explorer—you may have read about the intrepid Daniel Rook—but my mother much preferred tradition and civility. Mother took full advantage of my father’s notoriety to find her way into countless London garden parties, and she brought me along in the hopes that a little exposure would make me wish to be a proper lady as well. It generally made me wish instead that I could go outside and play in the dirt, like my father.

In some ways, there was really nothing new about New England. Our current hostess looked as though she would have fit very comfortably into my mother’s social circles. She introduced herself as Florence Beaumont and offered to take our coats. Jackaby flatly declined for both of us. I would have preferred he hadn’t, as the heat of the chamber was a sharp contrast to the breeze outside. The spring of 1892 had arrived in New Fiddleham, but it had not yet fully chased away the last of the winter winds.

Mrs. Beaumont led us to a small alcove at the rear of the room. Within the recess were a pile of blankets, a little pink collar with a bell on the front, and a set of silver bowls perched on white doilies. In one bowl was a bit of what looked to be leftover tuna, and in the other were water, a great deal of cat hair, and a live fish. The fish circled uncomfortably, being nearly as wide as the bowl itself.

Jackaby squatted, resting his forearms on his knees and staring into the water. He watched the fish take a few cramped laps, studying its movements, and then he plucked a bit of damp cat hair from the rim, sniffed it, tasted it, and tucked it into a pocket somewhere in the depths of his coat.

I whipped out the little black notepad Jackaby had given me upon the completion of our first case, trying not to let Mrs. Beaumont see that I was still on the very first page. “Your message said something about a sick cat?” I prompted the woman while my employer poked at the sticky pile of leftovers in the other bowl. “I’m sure Mr. Jackaby will want to see the animal.”

The woman’s lip quivered. “Mrs. W-W-Wiggles.”

“Yes, and where is Mrs. Wiggles, now?”

Mrs. Beaumont tried to answer, but she managed only a sort of squeak I could not decipher and gestured toward the alcove.

Jackaby stood. “Mrs. Wiggles is right here, isn’t she?”

The woman nodded.

“Mrs. Wiggles is the fish, isn’t she?”

She nodded again. “Only since recently,” she sniffed.

“I see,” Jackaby said.

His matter-of-fact response seemed to burst a dam within the woman. “You must think me mad! I didn’t know to whom I could turn, but your name has come up from time to time. I entertain, you see. Very prominent people come to my soirees. Mayor Spade had tea here, just last week. Some of the people I dine with tell me that you specialize in things that are . . . that are . . . different.

“To put it mildly,” I submitted.

“Nice to hear I’ve come so highly recommended, madam,” Jackaby said, turning his attention back to the big fish in the little bowl.

“Oh, I wouldn’t call them recommendations, exactly,” she added. “More like anecdotes, some of them warnings, actually . . .”

“Yes, yes, very nice.” Jackaby’s attention had migrated back to his investigation. He dropped to his hands and knees, peeking at the pile of blankets.

“I’ve always taken such good care of Mrs. Wiggles,” the woman continued. “I keep her brushed and washed, and I buy her the most expensive cat food. I even get her fresh fish from Chandler’s Market from time to time. At first I thought she was just feeling a bit off due to her—well—her state. But then she began to sprout s-s-scales, and now . . . now . . .” Mrs. Beaumont broke down again, her voice wavering into uncomfortable octaves.

“Due to her state?” I asked, trying to press forward. “What state was Mrs. Wiggles in?”

“She was pregnant,” Jackaby answered for Mrs. Beaumont.

The woman nodded.

“How did you know that?” I asked.

Jackaby pulled up the corner of the blanket to reveal a pile of adorable, sleeping kittens. Here and there a patch of scales peeked through the fur. The smallest had fuzzy gills, which puffed up and down as it snored, but they were precious nonetheless.

“Do I deduce correctly that, until recently, Mrs. Wiggles has had significantly more freedom to roam about at night?” Jackaby asked.

The woman blinked back to self-control. “Yes, yes, that’s true. I generally leave the window open at night, and Mrs. Wiggles likes to pop out, but she would always be back home in the morning. I decided it was best to keep her in this past month, at least until she had her litter. It’s been freezing cold out, anyway, didn’t want the poor thing—”

“Yes, that’s all very good,” Jackaby interrupted. “You mentioned you purchase fish for her from the market, occasionally. Is it also correct to assume you have been treating her to such morsels more often of late?”

“I just wanted her to be happier, cooped up indoors like—” “Always the same sort of fish?”

“Er . . . yes. Mackerel from Chandler’s Market. Was that wrong?”

“On the contrary, Mrs. Belmont—”

“Beaumont,” she corrected quietly.

“On the contrary, Mrs. Beaumont, it may have been just the thing. Don’t worry. We will have the animals out of your hair momentarily.”

“You’re taking the kittens, too?” She sniffled. Her eyes welled up, and her lip quivered.

Jackaby sighed. “Give me just a moment to confer with my esteemed colleague.” He gestured me closer as Mrs. Beaumont wrung her hands.

Jackaby leaned in and adopted the sort of hushed, secretive tones that one nearby cannot help but overhear. “Miss Rook, on a scale of one to pomegranate, how dangerous would you say this situation has become?”

“Dangerous?” I faltered.

“Yes, Miss Rook,” prompted Jackaby, “in your expert opinion.”

“On a scale of one to pomegranate?” I followed his lead, checking over the notes I had scribbled in my notepad and speaking in my most audible, serious whisper. “I should think . . . acorn? Possibly badger. Time alone will tell.”

My employer nodded solemnly.

“What? What is it? Can you make them . . . better?” Mrs. Beaumont fidgeted, worrying the lace on her collar as Jackaby considered his response.

“Contamination, madam. Viral infection, no doubt. You’ve been thoroughly exposed, but don’t worry, you’re probably just a carrier. It is most unlikely you will display any symptoms yourself. What’s important now is to be sure the litter does not further contaminate the neighborhood.”

“Is it really as bad as all that?” she asked. “Sh-should we tell the police or . . . or the animal control officer?”

“If you like.” Jackaby looked thoughtful. “Of course, it might be best if we simply take Mrs. Wiggles and her litter to our facility and keep the whole thing quiet. I’m no expert in entertaining, but I do not imagine one’s social standing would weather well the news that one is a carrier to an exotic, viral plague. How is Mayor Spade, by the way?”

Mrs. Beaumont sniffed and digested the detective’s words for a moment. “Let me fetch you a bigger bowl,” she squeaked. “I want Mrs. Wiggles to be comfortable, at least.” With one last sniffle, she ducked away into the house.

Some girls work in shops or sell flowers. Some girls find husbands and play house. I assist a mad detective in investigating unexplained phenomena—like fish that ought to be cats but seem to have forgotten how. My name is Abigail Rook, and this is what I do.

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Beastly Bones (Jackaby Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series so far. It's a lot of fun to read and I can't wait for the next book!
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
After investigating a case in New Fiddleham, this one takes Jackaby and Abigail out of town to a valley where a new set of fossils has been found. It partly connects to their case back in town about dangerous shape shifter pets, and partly because Abigail loves paleontology, so Jackaby relents and they both go there. While there, the trio of Charlie (because he is also working the case from the police side), Jackaby and Abigail try to solve the case amidst two quarreling scientists, a mourning widower, an intreprid hunter (who might make Charlie his newest find), and an overenthusiastic reporter while also trying to keep the supernatural under wraps. This book has Abigail more confident in her role as Jackaby's assistant, and their chemistry is awesome - with frequent quips, them teaming up and taking down people with snark - all without any romantic implications. Charlie is definitely the love interest for Abigail, and there promises to be a slow burn about it. Abigail also befriends the reporter who seems like a lady she would adore - independent, brave and out to get the world. Meanwhile, Jenny back home rises to case level, as her ghostly nature undergoes some changes that Abigail witnesses for the first time, and questions about her murder resurface. That mystery is left for the aptly named third book, so in this one, they are dealing with some bones, a new predatory threat, and the possibility of vampire attacks. The mystery is a bit convoluted, and unexpected, but it resolves well. Jackaby's version of history definitely gets more exciting as it involves the supernatural. The character developments in the book may be minor, but they also give levity and some stasis to the book in key moments. Overall, it is a good sequel, and stands equally with the first.
DarqueDreamer More than 1 year ago
Beastly Bones is fast paced and intriguing! It is full of humor and mystery. For a ridiculously good read, look no further than book 2 in the Jackaby series! I found this one very humorous, just like Jackaby. It was a jolly good time full of laughs and thrills. Though it was quite predictable, it was highly entertaining! Ritter is known for his unique writing style. In both books, he was able to lay out the mystery in plain sight without spoiling the story for the reader. I found myself laughing at the humorous parts, and smiling so much at Abigail, that I didn’t mind the predictability. Beastly Bones had some nice world building. We were brought back to the house on Auger Lane, the home of Jenny and Douglas and Jackabys “office”, but we were also introduced to a new part of the world, Gadston. The book was rich with imagery, allowing me to visualize the town of Gadston as the investigation was occurring. I still loved Jackaby’s character. He was clever and asinine at the same time. He was the source of most of my laughs. But, Abigail was still my favorite. I loved her positive “can do” attitude. I loved her fierceness and intelligence. This one, just like Jackaby, was an insanely easy read. It required little to no thinking, but did require a sense of humor. I knew that I would love the humor in this one. So, if you were on the hunt for a fun, paranormal “mystery” with strong characters and plenty of entertainment, you should have picked up Jackaby by now, and then picked up Beastly Bones because the series has been extremely dynamic so far!
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
While I like the first one a little better, I still liked this one too. It does have its good moments and is a good installment in the series so far. I love the covers for these books though. Looking forward to the next one.
bluegreen91 More than 1 year ago
Another great book in the Jackaby series! Interesting beasts, both human and mythological, a fast-moving plot, and a great lead-in to the 3rd book in the series. I keep picturing Jackaby as Eddie Redmayne in Fantastic Beasts... not that I've seen the movie, but from the images, he looks like I imagine Jackaby to look like. And his socially awkward but brilliant manner is quite charming. Abigail is a realistic and admirable female lead... adventurous, brave, and independent, but also interested in friendship and love.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
Another delight. I had this book (#2) on reserve at the library. In the time until it came I was distracted by numerous other books I read. Imagine my delight to start reading and remembered what great fun this author is! Total mayhem. Two strong women. A wonderfully "other" employer. Multiple mysteries. Incipient romance. It has it all. And a great sense of humor.
Trinitytwo More than 1 year ago
In Beastly Bones, the second installment in the Jackaby series, paranormal detective R.F. Jackaby and his young assistant Abigail Rook are sent on assignment to the rural town of Gad's Valley. A perfect set of dinosaur bones have been unearthed on Hugo Brisbee's farm, but on the heels of this momentous discovery comes a brazen theft and a baffling death by unnatural causes. Another body turns up in New Fiddleham with an identical cause of death. Due to the unusual circumstances, the acting Police Commissioner feels that only someone with Jackaby's unique skill set can solve the case. Shape-shifting police officer Charlie Cane, who has recently transferred to Gad's Valley, concurs with the Police Commissioner's assessment. Together, with Jackaby's friend Hank Hudson, a hunter of rare and extraordinary creatures, the trio must discover the secrets surrounding the Beastly Bones. Not as strong or as fast-paced as its predecessor, William Ritter's second offering in the Jackaby series still delivers a fresh and exciting adventure. Ritter's portrayal of both his major and minor characters is flawless; it's the story itself that lacks the same bite. Part of the problem is the loose ends. For example, much time and effort is spent on 926 Augur Lane's resident ghost and questions about her mysterious past, but maddeningly no answers are provided, just the promise of some in the future. Abigail's frustration at never being able to accompany her famous father on any of his archaeological digs was put to good use. She revels in the opportunity to work on an actual site, but the incessant bickering of the rival paleontologists and the tedious dig ended up weakening the story. Beastly Bones is at its best when Jackaby and Abigail engage in their special brand of bantering. While their professional relationship is similar to Sherlock and Watson, Abigail's attention to detail complements Jackaby's brilliant deductions which puts them on a more even keel. Abigail possesses a vibrancy and enthusiasm lacking in Watson. The fact that she is not afraid to kick her employer in the shins if he needs it makes her even more likable. Reading book one in this YA series is not a necessity, but I would definitely recommend it. Beastly Bones is a solid follow-up into William Ritter's humorous and horror-filled fantasy world. Reluctant readers rejoice, this series is a gem.
Silk-Serif More than 1 year ago
In Beastly Bones we return to the city of New England in 1982 with Abigail Rook and R.F. Jackaby where we follow them on yet another adventure of the paranormal nature. When I read book one of this series I had a hunch that the first book would be the foundation of a series that only improve with each installment which, so far, seems to be a fair assumption. I definitely felt like there was plenty of character development and general story building in this installment. Unfortunately, Beastly Bones was rather slow and took awhile to read, but it is definitely worth the read once you've completed it! What do a shape-shifting litter of kittens, mysterious murder, dinosaur bones and animal mutilation have in common? They're all cases Jackaby must tackle before mayhem occurs. And Abigail gets a second chance to make a romantic connection with her endearing dog-shifter Charlie. The relationship between Jackaby and Abilgal is growing into something supportive and deliciously awkward. Jackaby is an unwilling participant to Abigail's troubles with love and is unprepared for her to share personal details about herself so he reacts in a very "Jackaby" fashion. Secretly, Jackaby is a huge softie! It's adorable. Abigail and Jackaby have some humourous conversations regarding Abigail's indecision whether or not to pursue the handsome cop Charlie and in turn we get some pretty fantastic advice from Jackaby on love. Surprisingly, the friendship between Abigail and Jackaby appears to be developing naturally with a lot of emotional investment being tied up in the interactions between these two in their shared moments. It might have actually made the book worthwhile for me because the actual case took so long to be solved. I absolutely love how the characters are building a repertoire! Perhaps the story moved too slowly because I read far too carefully, attempting to find clues rather than enjoying the mundane details. I learned from book one that no detail is superfluous and a reader needs to pay attention if they want to solve the case before Jackaby does his big reveal at the end of the book. I probably spent too much time combing over the text and pondering the details rather than enjoying the flow and general language to really enjoy the full effect of this book. That being said, I really enjoyed Jackaby and can't wait to read book three. I'm certain the relationships between Jackaby, Abigail and Charlie will continue to develop in lovely but hilarious ways. It's not imperative to read book one of this series to enjoy the detective story, but new readers wont understand the dynamics between the two main characters. The history between these two along with their daring adventures will prove to be the ultimate crown on a very unique and fun series. My only request for book three? More Jackaby! This book is all about Abigail and her relationship decisions..lets have more Jackaby related oddity in book three! This book is appeal to readers who enjoy alternate historical fiction, paranormal young adult detective story with a sense of humour. A fantastic rendition of Sherlock Holmes with strange and extraordinary mysteries for our heroes to solve. Just like book one, Beastly Bones is witty, intelligent and stands completely on its own as a new experience for young adult fans.