TA Moore

Books: Mystery | Queer

Digging Up Bones: Bone to Pick (2017), Skin and Bone (2019)

Digging up Bones

Bone to Pick (2017)

Cloister Witte is a K9 deputy. He also has a problem with authority and recurring nightmares from his childhood.

He was tanned the color of whiskey, and his hair was wet and honey streaked, dripping onto his shoulders. Ink scrawled up over his ribs, but the pattern was shattered by a burst of pale white scar tissue.

Javi Merlo is the Acting SSA for the FBI's one-man office in Plenty CA. Plenty has more than it's share of troubles, with active drug traffickers and a local police department that was disbanded due to corruption. He's a good agent, but he has zero interest in romance, wants only to recover his reputation.

Sometimes Javi was such a prick it was hard to share his head with himself.

Let's be clear, Javi IS an asshole.

"Seriously?" Cloister asked, raising his eyebrows. "So instead of commitment issues, you'd rather people think you're a snob with a taste for rough trade?"

Cloister is a mess, and is willing to take fucking over a relationship, because he doesn't believe he deserves anything else. It's actually difficult at times to watch Cloister have so very little respect for himself.


"Really?" Javi asked. "I thought that was a nickname because you were religious. I didn't know your mother hated you."

Cloister did a rolling stop at the exit. There weren't enough people on the road to merit a full stop. Sometimes being a cop made you worryingly blasé about traffic laws.

"It was her maiden name," he said. "She didn't hate me till later."

(H)e thought the fact that his mother hated him would sting until the day they tossed the dirt on top of him.

Especially since Cloister will defend the helpless and those in need at the drop of a hat, but is unable to see any value in himself–he looks like a bully redneck, and sees little use in dressing and acting in a manner that might convince people otherwise.

For most of his life, looking like the guy most likely to throw a punch had helped him avoid having to throw any punches.

He'd rather spend all his time and money on Bon, his partner, and to hell with the rest of the world.

"You want to walk around here barefoot?"

"I'm not a dog," Javi said.

"Neither is Bourneville," Cloister said. "She's a sheriff's department deputy, and it costs more when she's on sick leave than it does when you are." Javi snorted like he didn't believe that. He'd obviously never seen a vet bill.

Cloister and Javi have to work together on a missing child case–Cloister because he and Bon do Search & Rescue, and Javi because the FBI is of course involved in a missing child case.

It was an interesting mystery, because it didn't go anywhere I had been expecting. That doesn't mean I didn't have suspicions about characters and who was involved, but they whys were both surprising and understandable–and so many things came back to the past corruption of the Plenty PD.

I quite enjoyed this, even as I kept thinking Javi was a complete asshole and wanted Cloister to stand up for himself already.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Skin and Bone (2019)

Oh Cloister. You deserve to be treated well.


Cloister had been more than happy to make a fool of himself over Javi the last few months, up until he decided to see what would happen if he screwed everything up instead. He couldn't even remember what the fight was about. That was a lie. It was about Javi's lunch with that hot PI and the beer he hadn't wanted to have with Cloister. But they hadn't spoken since.

It had been a week— not even a week yet— but Cloister knew the terms of his relationship with Javi. He knew he'd fucked things up and that he did it at least partially on purpose. That's what he usually did.

They hadn't been dating, exactly, and they hadn't even been not-dating that long.

A young woman missing from her car that went off the road sends Cloister and Bon out in a storm to search. Unfortunately, she wasn't just missing, but seems to have been attacked, and the attacker tried to mow down Cloister to get to her.

First things first, I really like Tancredi.

"Thank you for the heads-up," he said coldly. "Is there anything else?"

Tancredi stared at him for a second and then thinned her mouth in disapproval and shook her head.

"No, sir," she said. "I just thought you'd care."

She slammed the door behind her as she left.

One thing I forgot to mention about the first book is that I really liked how the first mystery was solved–it was team work and Tancredi was part of the team and had major input–even if she isn't a major character.

Very nice.

In this book, I was DELIGHTED by how injuries were shown–especially the aftermath.

"I didn't know the sheriff's department did dress-down days," (the male nurse) said skeptically.

"They don't," Cloister admitted. He never was a good liar. "I was the one who found her. I—"

"Got hit by a car, sneaked out before the doctors had finished with you," Ivan finished for him. A faint smirk curled his mouth when Cloister gave him a startled look. "Oh, we've all heard that story. You just made me twenty dollars by not dying in the night."

"You're welcome?"

First, Cloister left against doctors orders. Second, since he had a possible concussion, Javi woke him up every twenty minutes, to make sure he didn't die.

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you deal with the aftermath of a concussion.

OH! I also adore the coroner, who we met in the first book, and is just as irascible as every corner in every other police procedural I've read.

But she's also delightful in her own way, such as here when she's checking on the patient Cloister found. (She was the victim of assault, it's a small town, so the corner would also be the police expert.)

"I still have privileges here. It only makes sense to maintain them, but it's been a while since I had to conduct an examination on someone who's warm," she said as she smoothed the sheet down flat. "Or who'd care if someone saw them naked. It's disconcerting."

If it wasn't for the whole going to medical school and dealing with live people, I might have considered becoming a pathologist.

THERE WAS always an odd quality to the calls Galloway took while she was at work in the morgue. The background noise was disconcertingly banal, interrupted by only the squeak of a wheel that needed oil and the muted squeal of a saw. It could have been a kitchen remodel going on around her instead of human bodies being taken apart and put back together.

At least until you heard the crack of bones and the squelch of organs being moved.

Well, plus having a good sense of smell. That's not a plus in that line of work.

Javi is still an asshole in this story, but on the plus side, he KNOWS he's an asshole.

Half the time he didn't like himself much. If he had a pet, he wouldn't want it to be intelligent enough to understand his failings.

Someone nicer would apologize to Cloister. If Javi went out, he'd just say the wrong thing again, even knowing it was the wrong thing. Cloister just… scared him sometimes. No one should care that little about themselves, especially not someone who deserved… well… at least someone nicer.

Doesn't excuse his behavior, but at least he's aware of being a dick, and sometimes feels guilty about it.

I enjoyed the mystery. It's a pretty messed up town, and the repercussions of the corruption of the old police force is still being felt (which I also appreciated the realism of).

It feels like there will be another book in this series, because there are still issues between Javi and Cloister, but it at least ended in a comfortable place–even if Javi's new boss / replacement is still looming.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press