Book Review: The Bone Collection, by Kathy Reichs

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_bone_collectionMost readers and viewers of crime and thrillers would have come across Kathy Reichs at some point. For those who haven’t heard of her yet, now would be a good time to check her out. Shifting from novels to short stories, the Number One New York Times Bestseller has recently published a new book, The Bone Collection. This exciting book comprises four short stories featuring North Carolina forensic anthropologist, Temperance “Tempe” Brennan. Tempe is the well-known protagonist of the eighteen novels of the Temperance Brennan series, as well as in the hit television series, Bones.

In the first short story, “Bones in her pocket,” Tempe investigates the bones of a young woman, Edith Blankenship, found in the woods. In “Swamp Bones,” a case leads Tempe to the Everglades of Florida, where human remains are discovered in the stomach of an eighteen-foot Burmese python. In the third short story, “Bones on Ice,” Tempe examines the human bones of a young female climber, found on the top of Mt Everest. The final short story, “First Bones,” is the prequel to Reichs’s first novel, Déjà Dead, and concerns Tempe’s first encounter with her current profession. Instead of pursuing a career in academia, Tempe is pulled into the dark, grisly world of murder and deception after a well-loved physician, Keith Millikan, goes missing.

In reading these short stories, I was drawn to the values that bind Tempe to her work. Her determination to uphold justice through the laboratory is rooted in her belief that her John and Jane Does were once living and breathing, only to have their existence on earth abruptly terminated by people who considered their own lives more important than those of their innocent victims.

Reichs’s writing style boasts a balance between terseness and descriptiveness, reflective of her complex experiences in the field of forensic anthropology. Like Tempe, Reichs subdues the cold objectivity of each forensic case with warm, human empathy. Her concern for all animal and human life on the planet is evident in her notes to the reader, where she reflects on the inspiration of, and meticulous research preparation for, each of her short stories. In her notes, Reichs reveals that she undertook a great deal of research into international and regional law, and branches of zoology such as ornithology and herpetology. The learning process doesn’t stop there; Reichs provides additional links and interesting information to the reader.

For those partial to crime and thriller fiction from the likes of Richard Montanari and John Grisham, this gripping and educational read would make a great summer reading addition.

Reviewed by Azariah Alfante

The Bone Collection
By Kathy Reichs
Published by William Heinemann
ISBN 9781775432784

Book Review: Bones of the Lost, by Kathy Reichs

This book is available in bookstores now. cv_bones_of_the_lost

Kathy Reichs’ Bones of the Lost is her eighth in the series upon which the television series Bones, featuring forensic anthropologist Temperence Brennan, is based. Fans of Reichs’ previous novels in the series will have no surprises or difficulties adjusting expectations of the main character. Duffers like me, for whom this has been my first encounter with the Reichs’ Tempe, will have to adjust to some differences between the two characters in their medium.

It’s not too difficult to switch perceptions – after finishing Bones of the Lost I’m wishing the TV Temperence was more like the book Tempe. The book Tempe now seems more ” real” than the spectacularly television-chick Temperence.

Even their workplaces now seem at odds. The TV set of the Smithsonian (to which I have never been anywhere near) no longer “feels” like a real anthroplogist’s forensic lab. Too much glass and chrome I guess.

The story is a double conundrum for Ms Brennan – a case of a hit-and-run girl’s death needs examining and closure, and a government agency urgently needs her expertise in Afghanistan to prove or disprove two murders of local natives by a US soldier.

In Afghanistan she meets her adult daughter, a member of the forces in action over there.

As she applies her expertise to the two exhumed local natives, her discoveries prove the US soldier’s innocence – but give her clues relevant to the case of the hit-and-run girl’s death.

Back in the states, her work continues, and develops into an investigation into people smuggling and junior sexual slavery. Of course she puts the pieces together. Isn’t that the way of Bones?

I absolutely loved this book, will never watch the TV show again with the same expectations, and am off to track down copies of Reichs’ earlier Temperence Brennan novels.

Reviewed by Lynne Street

Bones of the Lost
by Kathy Reichs
Published by Random House
ISBN 9780434021161
Also available as an e-book