Tuesday, July 6, 2010

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

Reviewed for Edwards Magazine Bookclub
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, Canada

Is Tempe Brennan losing her mind? Or is there something more sinister going on? Is she really responsible for things disappearing and the anthropological mistakes she is making? In this novel, someone is trying to discredit and possibly oust Tempe, and is doing a moderately good job of it in the beginning but that soon escalates. Kathy Reichs has a writing style that builds the tension throughout, and drives you on to discover what you will find at the end. No disappointment there!

She is accused of mishandling an autopsy by an unknown tipster. With the body exhumation she just attended she counted and bagged 206 bones, in other words all bones accounted for. But strangely when she comes to complete reconstruction of the body, and looks for the most accurate marker she knew could give a positive ID, she finds she is now down to 203 bones. Tempe is then accused of mishandling evidence; she requests that she be allowed back to the site to see if they really had been left behind, but is turned down. When the newest member of the team is allowed to recheck the exhumation site, she remarkably 'discovers' the bones. Missed diagnoses are brought to light by the oh-so-helpful young Dr. Briel, who has insinuated herself into almost everyone's work. Tempe must find out how she could have made an error worthy of a warning that "someone's out to get you". She is also beginning to doubt herself.

Cases are suddenly piling up of suspected murders of elderly women, but each died in a different manner, in a different location, and over a period of years. Is there a link or not? Throw in a few old bones dredged from a lake just to bring a little more excitement into the mix and you have a number of mysteries to gnaw on. ID'ing most will be an almost fruitless job, but Tempe is sure she is up to the task. Teaming up with her detective partner Ryan, they both link up with colleagues and associates in Chicago and other areas over the elderly deaths trying to find a common denominator other than that they are all elderly, but when they arrive in Chicago, Tempe finds herself already in hot water. With all the red herrings, sidetracks, and downright dirty tricks in this book, you just know you are going to enjoy going along for the ride. Who of the many possibilities is out to get Tempe, and just how far will he or she go?

In the version of "206 Bones" I'm reviewing, there is an essay with facts and explanations of some of the things Temperance talks about which I found to be very interesting as well. I appreciated learning (in an aside), a bit more about the 1990 "Oka Crisis" that we in the west didn't hear about on the news at the time. The interaction with Tempe's family and Ryan were pure entertainment. Another great forensic mystery by a person who knows what she's talking about, Kathy Reichs.

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