Bone Wires by Michael Shean (REVIEW)

With Bone Wires, Michael Shean weaves a story that pays homage to multiple genres and tropes, creating a whole that is definitely more than just the sum of its parts. On the surface, this is a police procedural played out against a science fiction backdrop. Beneath the skin is an alternately shiny/gritty surface is an undercurrent of horror, backed by its serial killer atrocities, marked by a throbbing vein of socio-political commentary, centred around the privatization of law enforcement.

In a world where justice and profits are interchangeable, the investigation of a murder is considered a low-priority task, with little profit involved. Up the stakes with a string of gruesome serial murders, however, marked by the removal of the victim's spinal cords, and suddenly the detective involved is not just a celebrity, but a poster boy for the corporation. Suddenly, a seemingly simple investigation is complicated by the need to appease the shareholders as well as the public at large.

Shean's narrative style is well-suited to the mix of genres, coming across as a hard-boiled detective thriller with a strong sense of technological self-awareness. The story itself is paced well, and even when the action lags, there are enough ideas being explored to keep the reader engaged. In terms of detail, this is a book that's both gruesome and vulgar, but never to the point of being excessive.

More importantly, especially for the police-procedural genre, the characters are well-drawn, well-rounded, and well-executed. You can not only 'see' the characters as Shean describes them, but you can 'hear' them as well. They seem to exist beyond the page, bringing life to the story while also maintaining a sense of significance or consequence when they're out of sight.



Michael Shean was born amongst the sleepy hills and coal mines of southern West Virginia in 1978. Taught to read by his parents at a very early age, he has had a great love of the written word since the very beginning of his life. Growing up, he was often plagued with feelings of isolation and loneliness; he began writing off and on to help deflect this, though these themes are often explored in his work as a consequence. At the age of 16, Michael began to experience a chain of vivid nightmares that has continued to this day; it is from these aberrant dreams that he draws inspiration.

In 2001 Michael left West Virginia to pursue a career in the tech industry, and he settled in the Washington, DC area as a web designer and graphic artist. As a result his writing was put aside and not revisited until five years later. In 2006 he met his current fiancee, who urged him to pick up his writing once more. Several years of work and experimentation yielded the core of what would become his first novel, Shadow of a Dead Star (2011). Michael is currently signed with Curiosity Quills Press, who has overtaken publication of Shadow of a Dead Star and the other books of his Wonderland Cycle.