James Mason is a deacon in the Church of England sent to Geneva to help with the closure of the city’s Anglican church. While trying to off-load Thomas a Becket’s toe-bone, the church’s only treasure, he discovers that relics have a life of their own. As professed in the Middle Ages, they impose the characteristics of their original owner on whoever approaches too closely.

In the spirit of self-improvement, James Mason can’t help but notice that Switzerland’s cemeteries contain the world’s most impressive collection of dead famous people.

In contact with a selection of the celebrity dead unearthed from Swiss cemeteries, from Charlie Chaplin through James Joyce to John Calvin, James Mason is soon forced to decide what kind of person he really is. And how best, in the modern world, to live.

‘A device with huge comic potential, and one that Richard Beard exploits with ferocious intelligence and considerable wit . . . a rollercoaster philosophical journey of Stoppard-like brilliance.’
– Glasgow Herald

‘Beard is a hugely playful novelist who thrives when making things most difficult for himself. Dry Bones is scabrous and profane, but also very human in a good way, and probably a little bit profound too.’
– Independent on Sunday

‘The playful, witty English novel is not dead: Richard Beard’s story of a young vicar who digs for the bones of famous people in the graveyards of Geneva is lively, imaginative and entertaining.

‘Beard covers a lot of ground in his novel: the blandness of today’s Church; the lives of Thomas à Becket, Richard Burton, Charlie Chaplin and Elizabeth Taylor’s dogs; and the gullibility – or otherwise – of people who believe in the power of relics to intercede in their lives. Farce is never far from the surface of the writing, but farce is often employed as a cover for essential truths, and Beard knows it.’
– Booktrust

‘Switzerland’s cemeteries are bursting with celebrity bones – Jung’s knee, Chaplin’s shoulder and Calvin’s hip. Richard Burton’s leg is worth almost as much as Thomas à Becket’s toe. What is most refreshing about this crisp farce is its suave lakeside setting and cast of ingratiating Euro-clerics.’
– The Independent

‘Some gimmickry of form or plot is a great alleviator too – as in Richard Beard’s Dry Bones, about the hunt for profitable relics in present-day Genevan churches and graveyards (Thomas-à-Becket’s toe, Calvin’s bones, Richard Burton’s skull, and such) – a compellingly zany engagement in a sort of secular resurrectionism in the face of profound religious decline.’
– Valentine Cunningham, British Council Literature Matters magazine

Richard Beard, writer, author, novelist, Sad Little Men, The Day That Went Missing, Acts of the Assassins, Becoming Drusilla, Manly Pursuits, UK