Dry Bones in the Valley

Winner of the 2015 Edgar Award, Best First Novel by An American Author
Winner of the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller Category

When an elderly recluse discovers a corpse on his land, Officer Henry Farrell follows the investigation to strange places in the countryside, and into the depths of his own frayed soul.

In Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, secrets and feuds go back generations. The lone policeman in a small township on the sparse northern border, Henry Farrell expected to spend his mornings hunting and fishing, his evenings playing old-time music. Instead, he has watched the steady encroachment of gas drilling bring new wealth and erode neighborly trust. The drug trade is pushing heroin into the territory. There are outlaws cooking meth in the woods, guys Henry grew up with. When a stranger shows up dead, Henry’s search for the killer will open old wounds, dredge up ancient crimes, and exact a deadly price.

With vivid characters and terrific pacing, Bouman immerses readers in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region in the grip of change. In these derelict woods full of whitetail deer and history, the hunt is on.


“[A] beautifully written first novel.”
–Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“An exciting and disturbing debut … Bouman brings his world to life with texture that gives every room and vehicle and person a history and character, keeping us immersed in this mesmerizing and often terrifying story.”
–Washington Post

“Grit-lit meets wry suspense … a keen rendering of place and politics.”
–New York Magazine

“In the grisly literary tradition of Leonard and Lehane.”
–O, the Oprah Magazine


The snow has melted in Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, but for Officer Henry Farrell, summer has brought nothing but trouble. Heroin has arrived with a surge in burglaries and other crime. When local carpenter Kevin O’Keeffe admits he’s shot a man and that his girlfriend, Penny, is missing, the search leads Farrell to an industrial vice district across state lines that has already ensnared more than one of his neighbors.

Fateful Mornings delivers a thrilling mystery set on the edge of rust-belt America, a place disrupted by gas drilling and the drug trade yet rich with history, music—and long-buried secrets. Fans of James Lee Burke and Daniel Woodrell will love Henry Farrell, a cop with the patience of a hunter, who knows the land and local people and hides his own painful secrets.


“My father always said that you can judge people by the way they keep their tools: clean and sharp or soiled and soft. Tom Bouman’s tools—the words he uses to make Fateful Mornings—cut straight and true, in this riveting mystery about a good man caught in the ruined Eden of rural America.”
—Julia Keller, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sorrow Road

“… An uncommonly intelligent whodunit, haunted by the presence of an unforgettable villain who slinks through the pages with the lubricious evil of Cape Fear’s Max Cady. With meditations on folk-music, ornithology, and the art of timber-framing, Fateful Mornings is the kind of novel that feels more like a porch-sitting conversation with an old friend. Tom Bouman is my new favorite mystery writer.”
–Nickolas Butler, internationally best-selling author of Shotgun Lovesongs, Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Men

“Bouman’s tender portrait of a widower remaking his life infuses his crime fiction with a level of intimacy that is both rare and winning. I was happy to ride shotgun with Henry Farrell again.”
–Attica Locke, author of Pleasantville, The Cutting Season, and Black Water Rising

The BrAMBLE and the Rose

A headless stranger is found in the woods of Wild Thyme, a small town in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. All signs point to a man-killing bear, and Officer Henry Farrell would just as soon leave this hunt to the Game Commission. But doubts arise when he discovers the victim was a retired investigator. What drew the investigator to sleepy Wild Thyme? Before Henry can find answers, his own nephew disappears into the hills. Then an old flame dies under suspicious circumstances, leaving Henry as the prime suspect. Torn between protecting his family and clearing his name, Henry fights to protect the most he’s ever had to lose.



“A master of rural noir.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

““The Bramble and the Rose” has animal-hunting sequences to rival those of William Faulkner and hand-to-hand combat struggles as tense as any depicted by Ron Rash or Daniel Woodrell. Mr. Bouman writes like a poet, whether describing an autumn landscape or a bear autopsy or a man in a midlife crisis. As the tale moves to a close and its storylines converge, Farrell’s personal dilemmas resolve in a burst of grace worthy of the mystery of life itself.”
The Wall Street Journal

“There is a free-form stream-of-consciousness element to Henry’s first-person narration that is very appealing—world-weary yet cautiously optimistic.”

“An elegant tale of an introspective detective whose life experiences have seared his soul without extinguishing his hope.”

“The intensifying mystery delivers an atmospheric tale…”
Library Journal (Starred)