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Thursday 22 October 2015

‘Speaking in Bones’ by Kathy Reichs

Published by Heinemann,
30 July 2015.
ISBN: 9780434021192

You’d think there was a limit to the number of variations on murder mysteries based around old or well-weathered bones. Yet Kathy Reichs’s bestselling series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan now runs to nineteen titles, and still she succeeds in pulling something a little different out of the hat each time.

Speaking in Bones, the latest of Tempe’s adventures, has a lot in common with the earlier titles: a mystery which requires a lot of unravelling; interesting characters and a vivid sense of place; further developments in  Tempe’s emotional rollercoaster of a personal life; and the clipped, idiomatic style liberally laced with technical terms which has become something of a trademark for Reichs.

The first of the interesting characters is one of the factors which makes this title a little different from the others. Hazel ‘Lucky’ Strike, self-styled websleuth, is present from the outset, and her investigation is what fires up Tempe’s own sleuthing brain cells. ‘Lucky’ is as eccentric as they come and determined to follow her intuition through to the bitter end.

Websleuths, it appears, take it upon themselves to follow up cold cases of murder, missing persons and other crimes which the police have given up on, mainly by picking up leads online, but also in the real world. Lucky has been pursuing a teenage girl whose family insist has run off with a boyfriend, and enlists Tempe’s help when she unearths a vital piece of evidence the police have missed, and becomes convinced the girl’s bones are stashed in the  county medical examiner’s store.

Religious fanaticism soon enters the picture, and the case becomes a great deal more complicated than it appears. Tempe follows Lucky’s trail with the help, and sometimes hindrance, of two contrasting cops, discovers more bones and a lot of conflicting information, and eventually has a narrow escape as the denouement approaches.

Meanwhile, her personal life is in chaos. The case is taking place in North Carolina, and her former lover in Montreal is pressuring her to resume their relationship; her mother is in love; her soldier daughter is in Afghanistan; and her accountant is chasing her for information for her tax return.

The sum total is another intriguing episode in the life of one of crime fiction’s most popular protagonists. Kathy Reichs knows how to tell a good story and keep the reader enthralled.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Kathy Reichs was born July 7, 1948 She is a crime writer, forensic anthropologist and academic. She is vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists; a member of the RCMP National Police Services Advisory Council; forensic anthropologist to the province of Quebec; and a professor of forensic anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Her first book, Déjà Dead , catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller, a Sunday Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis award for best first novel. She is a producer of the chilling hit TV series Bones. She has written eighteen bestsellers featuring Dr Temperance Brennan, the most recent include Bones of the Lost and Bones Never Lie. She has also written five bestsellers featuring Tory Brennan: Virals, Seizure, Code, Exposure and Terminal. Kathy is a forensic anthropologist herself

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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