Adult · Book review · Short fiction

Review: Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw


Hammers on Bone is the first novella in the Persons Non Grata series, followed by A Song for Quiet. Both novellas can be read as standalones.

John Persons is a private investigator who lives in Croydon, London. At the beginning of the novella he is hired by a ten-year-old. The kid wants him to kill his stepdad, who is a monster.
Persons is perfect for the job, since he’s a monster too.

Hammers on Bone is both a detective story and a discussion of domestic abuse, because more often than not we don’t recognize the monsters in our lives.

I read another work by this author before, the short story These Deathless Bones (read it here). It wasn’t for me, but I noticed that the writing was beautiful. When I heard she had written a novella that was Lovecraftian Noir, I decided I had to try it, even though I know close to nothing about both the Noir genre and Lovecraft.
Sometimes I like to try new things, and it works.

It’s not until I’ve clicked the door shut that I hear tiny feet scrabbling over wood, hear the steady rhythm of hammers on bone.


I loved the writing style. This author describes food and gore with the same degree of detail, which means that sometimes you’re thinking “I love this quote” and “but that’s gross” at the same time. And I like this. If you don’t like in-depth descriptions of entrails, this book is probably not for you—probably. A few months ago I thought I didn’t like horror, and I was wrong.

This is currently my favorite novella series. If the plot sounds interesting to you, try it!

My rating: ★★★★½

Have you read Hammers on Bone? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Review: Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

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