Crow Stoneby Published 01 May 2007
A compulsively readable thriller that skillfully weaves together past and present to uncover the sinister secrets buried in the ancient stone quarries under Bath.
Kit Parry is reluctant to take the job shoring up the ancient quarries beneath her hometown of Bath — a place as riddled with memories she d rather forget as it is with Roman ruins. The miners certainly don t want her there, and her burgeoning romance with lanky foreman Gary looks likely to complicate matters even further. But when dark developments threaten the spa town s placid façade, Kit must face up to the past she s tried so desperately to bury. Someone wants her out of Bath — that much is clear — but who was it that brought her childhood to an abrupt end in the summer of her fourteenth year? Why has she never been back to Bath, and how did she escape her violent father? When Kit stumbles across evidence of a lost Mithraic temple, the mysteries in her own past become entangled with a search for what could be the archaeological discovery of the decade — and what turns into a dangerous obsession...
"Crow Stone" Reviews
CROW STONE (Suspense-Kit Perry-UK-Cont) – G+
Mills, Jenni – 1st book
HarperPress, 2007, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780007247127
First Sentence: Look at this.
*** Kit Perry, a mining engineer, has returned to Bath, where she was raised but she would rather people there not recognize her. At fourteen, known as Katie and after a difficult childhood with a mother who left and a strict, unpredictable father, she left Bath in a large black car. Now she is back working with a team to shore up the Roman quarries which are putting at risk parts of historic Bath. But the past is never far from the present; especially when her best friend wants her to help him possibly find a lost temple of Mithras and the man leading the investigation is one on whom she and her friends had a crush.
*** Jenni Mills has a wonderful voice. From the very beginning, I was caught up in Katie/Kit’s live and fascinated by the way Mills masterfully intertwined the past (1970s) and the present resulting in a very good, and at times quite suspenseful, story. The relationships are complex and very real; from her insecurity as a child to her frustration of working with male miners who don’t want a female engineer underground with them. Yes, the story could have used editing and tightening up but, overall, it is quite an impressive debut.
Got this through a UK bookclub not really knowing much about the author or book. I was pleasantly surprised - a really strong debut from this author, particularly with the development of the main female character and her interactions within the hostile work environment she finds herself in while pursuing her underground passion. The intertwining storylines are well worked and I found the final resolution very satisfying. Highly recommended author and one to look out for in the future.
Absolutely fabulous book. Thought I had worked out who was what but was surprised. Hope the author writes more books! Soon!
"Corax the Raven - the messenger of the gods. Just when you think life is on track, along comes a socking great bird, squawking news of a divine quest. My advice is, shoot the bloody thing....."
The quote at the start of CROW STONE hinted at something with a very dry, quirky sense of humour and it definitely delivers - on the lighter moments, with good characterisation and a tremendous, taut, tense and frequently disturbing plot.
Katie was a little girl in Bath, living with her overbearing father, her mother left them when she was only a toddler. In many ways, Katie's a normal teenager - she watches the teenage boy who lives over the road through the curtains; she's under pressure to keep up her results at school; and her friends are obsessed with clothes, boys and parties. Katie's a little different though, a bit withdrawn, obviously missing her mother - her love is archaeology - she fascinated by the fossils that are found around Bath and by the ancient stone mines that have been dug out under Bath.
20 years later and Katie has grown into Kit, now a mining engineer, back in Bath and working with the team that are trying to shore up those very same mines before there are major collapses. She's always denied her connections with Bath, but the status of the mines and her past in the area get complicated when Katie discovers something that seems significant from an archaeological point of view. She must call in her best friend, professor of Archeology Martin, and together they have to get into an off limits area of the mine to check out the discovery.
The possibility of a much sought after Roman Mithraic temple is not the only secret that the mines hold, and Kit is struggling with being back in Bath, let alone finding the teenage boy has also grown up into the foreman of the works. But what was it that happened all those years ago, where is Kit's father now, and why did her mother leave her?
CROW STONE covers Kit's life as the teenage Katie in alternating chapters with the current day. There's a slow burning, gripping, building tension that comes with this approach. This is not a book where a crime happens up front, instead, something has happened in the past, something is happening in the present and the reader rapidly learns the details of either event. What holds both of these threads together is Kit. She's a fabulous, engaging character, sometimes full of attitude and confidence, sometimes doubting and unsure of herself. There's a lot that has obviously happened in Kit's life and she's handling it in the only way she knows how.
Along with Kit there's a well drawn cast of supporting characters, Gary the young boy over the road now foreman, Kit's dearest friend Martin, the creepy site archaeologist Dickon and the miners who are horrified to have a woman underground.
CROW STONE was one of those books that you opened, read the first chapter and settled down for the ride. It is a first novel for Jenni Mills, and you can't help hoping that there's lots more to come.
Really enjoyed this one. I picked it up because I used to live in Bath, and the book is set in the stone mines (now I know the correct term is quarries!) beneath one of the city's seven hills.
The story follows Kit, who lands a job as a mining engineer when the mines are being assessed prior to filling them with concrete to make the surface safe for the housing estates and a school built above. But an MOD site also lies above part of the mine, and Kit suspects the danger has been exaggerated to rush the job through but does not know why. During an illicit underground survey, she and her gay friend Martin think they have found the remains of an old Roman Mithraic temple, but as a woman in a man's world Kit suffers from sexism and bullying at work.
Her life is complicated by the site foreman Gary, an old flame from her teenage years, who used to live in the house opposite and was stolen from Kit (known as Katie in the teenage sections of the story) by her best friend Trish, who later stole her husband too.
The two time lines - adult Kit working at the mine, and teenage Katie who explored the old workings before they were blocked up - interweave to create an interesting archaeological thriller/romance. Kit has a dark past, which comes out gradually as the book progresses, and this part of the story could have made a decent YA book in itself. Woven with the adult parts, it is a sophisticated and gripping read that women especially should enjoy.
Just one question... who is the fair haired girl on the cover?