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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Review: Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs

Spider Bones is Temperence Brennan's thirteenth outing. Do take note that the hardback edition had a different title (Mortal Remains) - several people on Amazon and Goodreads are unhappy about accidentally buying the same book twice.

Title: Spider Bones
Author: Kathy Reichs
Publisher: Arrow
Published: July 2011
Genre: Crime (forensic)

Find it at Amazon UK

The blurb says:
Dr Temperance Brennan spends her life working amongst the decomposed, the mutilated and the skeletal. So the two-days-dead body she is called to examine holds little to surprise her. Until she discovers that the man is John Lowery, an ex-soldier who was apparently killed in Vietnam in 1968. So who is buried in Lowery's grave?

The case takes Tempe to the heart of the American military, where she must examine the remains of anyone who may have had a connection to the drowned man. It's a harrowing task, but it pays off when she finds Lowery's dog tags amongst the bones of a long-dead soldier.

As Tempe unravels the tangled threads of the soldiers' lives and deaths, she realises there are some who would rather the past stayed dead and buried. And when she proves difficult to frighten, they turn their attention to the one person she would give her life to protect.

My verdict: Full-on, typical Brennan fare. Recommended for Reichs fans.
I always enjoy a good Kathy Reichs novel - lots of procedural and scientific fact, plenty of detail that I half regret reading momentarily, a good dose of uncertainty about Brennan's private life, and all delivered with a healthy dollop of dry humour. This novel doesn't disappoint at all. I've seen other reviews which complain about some of these aspects, but it's not like Reichs has suddenly started writing a different kind of book. To those who don't like scientific and forensic detail in their crime novels, I would point out that there are many crime writers out there to choose from and perhaps reading books by those who are forensic professionals might not be the best idea.

The plot centres around the appearance of a body which suggests that another body was misidentified forty years ago. Naturally, this requires investigation and, also naturally, this is not the end of the matter. On top of this, Brennan is pulled into another case while working on this one, leading to plenty of complexity, red herrings and many character names (several of them already dead!) to remember and keep straight. I did feel a bit like making notes at one point about who was who, but Reichs includes enough reminders to help her readers out, and this never actually became necessary.

I read this in two days, as it just kept pulling me back in. If you've enjoyed other Tempe Brennan novels, I'm sure you'd like Spider Bones as well.

1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed most of Kathy Reichs' Tempe Brennan novels, and it sounds like this will be another great read. Thanks for the review.


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