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by Kathy Reichs
Heineman, August 2009
303 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 0434014680

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There's no denying that Kathy Reichs is an excellent writer. She combines a wonderful ability to write about what she knows with inventive plotting and excellent characterisation.

The beginning of the book is distressing, told in the first person by Temperance Brennan. She is in a cold, dark, confined space with no memory of how she got there. To make it worse, she is tied up. Then gradually memory starts to seep into her brain.

The entombed portion of the story is told in italics while the rest, in flashbacks, is recounted in ordinary font, which makes it easier for the reader to gather a protective layer around him/herself to armour against the worst part of the horrors.

Tempe is startled to be accused of hiding the truth about the death of Rose Jurmain, an elderly female who apparently got drunk and wandered off into the Quebec woods where she died of exposure. Edward Allen Jurmain, father of Rose (and apparently soon-to-be corpse himself, albeit the decease caused by senescence rather than foul play) has complained that the autopsy was botched. Jurmain's agent, Schlechter, further astonishes Tempe, who has explained apparent anomalies to his satisfaction, by telling her she has an enemy as Jurmain has received an anonymous telephone call accusing Tempe of deliberately covering up the murder of his daughter.

Meanwhile, back in Montreal, the corpses of first one and then another elderly women are discovered in the near countryside. Working in her Montreal lab, Tempe comes gradually to the conclusion that these deaths may be related to the

Reichs is very good at characterisation and at specific detail. When Ryan and Tempe have dinner with Tempe's former in-laws, the Latvian family party is excellently well depicted (speaking as a veteran of many such). Also, the depiction of Tempe's less than ethical colleague is, unfortunately, a realistic reflection of what is encountered in real life.

The plotting of the various mysteries is effective and the motives for the various aspects not too unconvincing.

There is one aspect of the Tempe Brennan novels that I find less than satisfying and that is the on again off again romance between Tempe and Ryan. I just wish Reichs could ditch those blue eyes and find another romance for her forensic anthropologist!

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, July 2009

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