Christopher Rice hails from a family of literary luminaries and has spent his career so far experimenting with several genre crossovers mixing erotic fiction with thriller and supernatural elements. For many years he has also hosted a streaming radio satire program entitled “The Dinner Party” and has interviewed many fiction giants whom are likely inspirations for his blended style – e.g. Patricia Cornwell and Armistead Maupin. Recently his mother Anne Rice and Christopher co-authored a sequel to Anne’s novel The Mummy, entitled Ramses the Damned. We reviewed this book here at PopMythology recently and found both the story and collaboration to be mesmerizing.
Bone Music is a solo effort for Christopher, and represents an exploration into new fictional territory: the science fiction thriller. This is an interesting crossover combination which provides fast-paced excitement while maintaining an undercurrent of potential future plausibility. This injection of real possibility augments the fearful thrill in a way that more supernatural themes cannot do quite as well. In Christopher’s hands, the thematic combination also takes on a dystopian look at the potential dark side of pharmacological manipulation of human psychology and physical capability.
The back story of the main character, Charlotte Rowe, is a twisted one. Charlotte was abducted as a child by a pair of serial killers who murdered her mother. The couple raise the child in isolation, intending to indoctrinate her into the “family killing business.” Charlotte witnesses many cruel atrocities but is rescued by authorities at the age of seven before being forced to commit any herself. She is returned to her father, who proceeds to exploit her and her story for personal financial gain. Charlotte eventually escapes his manipulative guardianship and, with money from a legal settlement, moves to Arizona.
In an isolated desert location, she, changes her childhood name of Trina Pierce, builds herself a fortress-like home with advanced security and tries to heal into a stable adulthood.
But unfortunately, her past notoriety has attracted obsessive stalkers determined to re-awaken and resume her childhood training in Serial Killer 101. One of these, Dylan Thorpe, poses as a caring, committed counselor and slips her an experimental drug designed to augment aggressive physical and psychological responses. What happens next is a thrilling ride you’ll want to experience for yourself.
On the surface, Bone Music is a perfect poolside vacation read (and I’m sure many of us are ready for the accompanying warmer weather!). But Rice is additionally exploring many deeper, classical story elements. The effects of the drug itself, christened with the contemporary pharma-like name “Zypraxon,” recalls the chemical concoction which produced Jekyll’s “Mr. Hyde.” Similarly, this theme of the duality of human nature is explored in Bone Music. But additionally, the impact of Charlotte’s sinister upbringing brings additional elements to the discussion. How much does nurture play a role in adult behavior? And another more disturbing question – a deeply embedded fear of Charlotte’s – can the impact of her early childhood trauma be overcome or is she doomed to follow her abductor’s dark path?
In summary, Bone Music is a successful experiment by Rice to incorporate new genre elements into his writing. Fans will also be delighted to know that, similar to his other novels, Bone Music shows every sign of becoming a series, so stay tuned!