Book Reviews

Blog Tour: The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane

The Bone Jar Cover

Released: July 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Pages: 335
Rating: 4/5

Two murders. An abandoned asylum. Will a mysterious former patient help untangle the dark truth?


From the publisher:

The body of an elderly woman is been found in the grounds of a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. Gradually, the secrets of Blackwater Asylum begin to reveal themselves; there are rumours of secret rooms, unspeakable psychological experimentation and a dark force that haunts the ruins.

Urban explorer Connie Darke has her own interest in the asylum; it’s where her sister died in a freak accident and she’s determined to help Kirby expose its grisly past. Meanwhile Kirby discovers a devastating family secret that threatens to turn his life upside down. As his world crumbles around him, Kirby must put the pieces of the puzzle together to keep the killer from striking again. Only an eccentric former patient knows the truth—but will he reveal it to Kirby or Connie before it’s too late?


The eerie location of The Bone Jar was more than enough to draw me in. Luckily, the well written and compelling plot kept me hooked.

Blackwater, the abandoned asylum looming at the centre of this story, was almost a character in itself. Its seemingly spectral presence not only shaped the lives of many of the characters in this book, but it also shaped the community around it- more often than not in devastating ways.

If you’re wondering how an asylum can remain abandoned in London where space is already at a premium, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Despite being a large piece of extremely valuable real estate, any development attempts at its site inevitably fell apart. It was almost as if the asylum was protecting itself and its secrets, repelling away any attempts to erase it from history.

It was right to harbor its secrets. As the plot unfolded, twisting and turning in so many unexpected ways, you began to see how sinister the asylum’s past was. Except it wasn’t the asylum that was evil. Instead, it was those running it that were the cause of all the horrors within its walls.

The writer’s background in architecture as well as her interest in urban exploration (urbexing) were clear throughout The Bone Jar. She was able to use her knowledge to describe settings in such a realistic way that you could picture yourself there with the characters. Often I could even almost smell the damp and mildew of some of the places they went to as well as hear the waters of the mighty Thames.

Inspired by these descriptions, I ended up doing a bit of side research afterward on some of the influences for the book’s locations. It made for some seriously fascinating reading. Kane’s educational and hobbyist backgrounds added so much to what would have already been a chilly and atmospheric tale.

With this being the first in a series, there was bound to be a lot of set up. In DI Lew Kirby’s case in particular, there were several pages devoted to giving us information about his life, his job, and his background. Because of this, quite a few of his storylines and loved ones were barely more than mentioned in passing as he investigated this bizarre murder.

I’ve seen some reviewers that were unhappy with this, feeling like way too much was crammed into the book. However, I can only see that being an issue if this were a standalone novel. Since more installments are coming, I’m hopeful that some of the more compelling things that weren’t explained in depth will be broached throughout the series. I’m also hopeful Connie Darke will continue as a main character, maybe acting as like Lew’s cracking urbex sidekick/civilian consultant. Otherwise, I’ll have a bone to pick with S.W. Kane because you can’t just let us get invested in such a captivating character to only hide her away from us!


Even though urban exploration isn’t something I’ve taken part in, my husband used to do it with some of his photographer friends. Funnily enough, the last place they went into together was an abandoned asylum that was due for demolition after being left to ruin for decades. There is no way that place wasn’t haunted. The photos and their stories are more than enough to support that and you can’t change my mind.

Having urbexing as a plot element isn’t something I’ve come across in a book before and I have to say it added a unique twist to the tale. It almost made me wish I had known my husband when he and his friends explored that definitely haunted asylum.


The Bone Jar is out today, buy your copy now at Amazon!


SW Kane Author pic

About the Author:

SW Kane studied History of Design and worked at the RIBA before taking on a series of totally unrelated jobs in radio and the music industry, where she still works as a freelance music PR. She has an MA in Creative (Crime) Writing from City University. She began reading crime fiction from an early age and developed an obsession with crime set in cold places. A chance encounter with a derelict fort in rural Pembrokeshire led to a fascination with urban exploration, which in turn became the inspiration for her crime novels. She lives London.

Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on The Bone Jar Blog Tour!

The Bone Jar BT Poster

Thank you to the publisher and Random Things Tours for a copy of this thrilling book in exchange for a blog tour review.

4 thoughts on “Blog Tour: The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane”

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