"As I was packaging what remained of the dead baby, the man I would kill was burning pavement north toward Charlotte."
With this opening sentence, Kathy Reichs serves notice that her heroine, Temperance Brennan, is in for one of her scariest, most gruesome adventures yet. As fans of this popular series already know, Tempe is a forensic anthropologist: an expert in the human form (especially bones) who helps solve crimes. The abovementioned infant is only the first in a series of grisly remains, both human and animal, that Tempe must sort through and decode. Meanwhile, as several seemingly unrelated cases begin to intertwine, her sleuthing puts her in the crosshairs of a very nasty stalker who hides behind an e-mail alias.
Reichs knows how to keep the narrative ball rolling with a canny mix of plot developments, character delineation, and scientific detail, all relayed in Tempe's smart, breezy, sarcastic voice. In fact, Bare Bones has a few too many characters and plot lines for Reichs--or most readers--to keep perfect track of. But it's a fun ride anyway, enlivened by some steamy romantic scenes and some fascinating, appalling information about the illicit trade in endangered wildlife (did you know that bears' gall bladders fetch more money per ounce than cocaine?). Bare Bones is a crisp, enjoyable read that cements Kathy Reichs's standing as the best forensic-thriller writer at work today. --Nicholas H. Allison
From Publishers Weekly
Feisty forensic anthropologist Temperance (Tempe) Brennan is supposed to be on vacation, but body parts keep turning up. At the start of her sixth adventure, she's awaiting the arrival of her current flame, Quebecois sleuth Andrew Ryan, so she can head for the beach near her hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Before he shows up, she's called in to use her world-class forensics skills when a local janitor's infant granddaughter is found dead and charred in an oven. Then some strange, decomposing remains (" `Human?' `I'm not sure' ") are discovered by Brennan's dog during a barbecue at a local lakeside resort. Ryan finally arrives, but Brennan's vacation is indefinitely put on hold when a small plane crashes nearby. Two people are dead, and her expertise is required yet again ("The skull had suffered massive communitive fracturing on impact. The fire had done the rest"). Brennan eventually realizes that all three cases are linked to a drug-smuggling ring that also dabbles in poaching exotic animals. As she pursues her investigations, she is forced to work with "Skinny" Slidell, a redneck cop who rubs her the wrong way, but tension is defused by the presence of Ryan, who gamely gives up his vacation to pitch in. He matches Brennan quip for quip, and Tempe's dog, Boyd, provides extra comic relief. Reichs has built a reputation on cut-to-the-chase writing and swift plotting, and this latest effort delivers everything her fans have come to expect.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.