Perhaps because I grew up in New York City and counted the Metropolitan Museum as one of my stomping grounds, or perhaps because one afternoon several years ago I took the elevator down to the basement and wandered through aisles and aisles of similar chairs—I loved revisiting the museum in Linda Fairstein’s novel The Bone Vault.
I really didn’t care who murdered whom or even why— save when knowing those things enhanced my foray through the museum’s labyrinths. Fairstein is an expert when it comes to setting the stage for her mysteries. There is no detail too small if it adds to the atmosphere of the story.
The setting is another character in this tale of museums stealing the skeletons of indigenous people without any regard to them as people. Within the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum—often buried in a warren of rarely used or seen rooms —are the bones of native peoples. The desire to return the bones sets off the mystery part of this novel.
Since I knew that the murderer would be caught and his heinous crime brought to light, I allowed myself the luxury of delighting in the tour of the museums.