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by Kathy Reichs
Scribner, March 2020
336 pages
ISBN: 1982139358

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Kathy Reichs is back after a two-year hiatus with her 19th Temperance Brennan novel, A CONSPIRACY OF BONES. Since her first book, DEJA DEAD, she has followed Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, dividing her time between Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Quebec.

There have been a great number of changes in Tempe's life, most notably a brain aneurysm and brain surgery. Back now at work, she is experiencing migraines, nightmares and, possibly, hallucinations. She is unsettled and beginning to doubt her memory.

To make matters worse, her new boss hates her and won't let her do her job. So she must go rogue to identify a body ravaged by feral pigs. Who knew they were a huge problem in North Carolina? The body is without hands, face or intestines, so Brennan has little to work on, if she could work.

She pairs up with Skinny Slidell, her longtime boyfriend Andrew Ryan's partner in their new PI agency. Ryan is now a live-in but he is off in Europe chasing a missing horse. Skinny Slidell is the opposite of handsome blue-eyed Ryan. He's crude, loud-mouthed, sloppily dressed and often stinky. But he is a great detective!

It takes about a hundred pages to figure out who the unidentified corpse is, and another hundred to figure out what happened to him and why. The journey is dangerous and the bad guys are repulsive child pornographers, among their other criminal activities. Through the dark web, they have found a new way to get their vile material out to buyers who are prepared to pay $5000 for access to the stuff videos of children being sexually abused in real time.

Eventually the corpse leads Tempe and Skinny to the villains and their very complicated dark web scheme explained in great detail but beyond my ability to understand. Not that it really matters 'cause Skinny, Tempe and their pals break the case with flourishes.

I have been a fan of Kathy Reichs' work since DEJA DEAD, but this is one of the most exciting and complicated Temperance Brennan novels to date. Reichs' work has become so much more nuanced, her characters have grown funnier and more loveable, the dialogue sparkles and the pace keeps the reader breathless. And finally she is settling down with Ryan, although they barely ever seem to be in the same place at the same time. Perhaps Tempe has found the perfect kind of relationship and the sex is still great. Can she ask for more?

Read it. You will love it. Or go back to DEJA DEAD and follow the whole series from the beginning.

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, March 2020

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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