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At the heart of the 1952 novel Beat Not the Bones is an indictment of violence. Written by Geraldine Halls under the pseudonym Charlotte Jay, the story, which won the inaugural Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1954, is a disquieting exploration of not only bodily horrors, but the darkness of colonialism. After the mysterious death of her husband in Papua New Guinea, Stella Warwick is convinced that the act was a murder, not the suicide it was reported to be. So she travels from Australia to investigate his death for herself. But once there, Stella soon discovers that his untimely death isn’t the only horrific show of violence or unsolved mystery in the jungle, and that the answers she seeks may be more than she bargained for. While the book reflects many of the problematic attitudes toward race at the time, its critique of the horrors of colonialism is urgent, sharp, and surprisingly prescient, making it as relevant today as it was when it was first published.Cady Lang

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