Bone Hunter by Sarah Andrews (1999)

BoneHunterPaperback cover blurb

Forensic geologist Em Hansen uses her keen senses and fascinating scientific background to uncover the buried secrets of the most baffling murder cases. Now Em travels to a Utah paleontology conference, where a renowned dinosaur expert is found brutally murdered…making Em, his houseguest, the chief suspect. Now, digging for clues amidst a canyon of suspects like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, Em’s gotta catch a killer, clear her name, and save herself from becoming extinct…

My thoughts

Bone Hunter is a murder mystery set at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference in Salt Lake City, and it’s a fun one at that.

The best thing Bone Hunter has going for is its likable heroine and narrator, Em Hansen. Em is a “forensic geologist,” which must mean she does something similar to CSI, except her work isn’t as gross. She has been invited to speak about her unique profession at a paleontology conference by George Dishey, a dinosaur hunter admired by the popular press but not well respected by his colleagues. George is murdered before the novel begins (!) and Em is caught breaking into his house, having accidentally locked herself out. She quickly becomes the prime suspect so she sets out to find the real killer and clear her name.

Em is a wonderful creation. She’s funny, smart, and very insecure. Her character helps because the novel drags in a bit where it ventures away from its central drama, such as Em’s stopover at the home of a conservative Mormon family. Also, the resolution of the murder feels like a bit of a cheat on the author’s part, but to give any more away would spoil the book.

Still, the novel is a compelling mystery sprinkled with science lectures, and I definitely recommend it.


  • Bone Hunter is the fifth novel in a series of mysteries featuring geologist Em Hansen. Other titles include Tensleep, Mother Nature, and Earth Colors.
  • The author’s web site is


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