Customer Reviews: Devil Bones: A Novel (Temperance Brennan Novels)
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If you are a long-time fan of this series, I've written this review for you. You can skip this book if you want to. In terms of series continuity, I'm sure Dr. Reichs will be able to put in two sentences near the start of the next book to handle what happens in this one.

If you haven't read any books in the series, don't start with this one. Start with Deja Dead, a much better book.

If you like mysteries that are hard to solve as a reader, you will like Devil Bones much better than most readers. That's also true if you are fascinated by pagan religions and cannot get enough information about dead bodies.

On the other hand, if you want an entertaining story that's an easy read, you will probably think this is a two-star book. The book also features an easy-to-hate politician who makes the story less appealing. If you like to see Dr. Tempe Brennan's love life get somewhere, this book is pretty close to a zero.

Let's face it. We all have bad days. Tempe seems to be having one throughout this book. That also makes the book more of a downer than it had to be.

Tempe is called out when an apparent root cellar turns out to contain a human skull, associated with what looks like some sort of pagan religious rite. Tracking down the rest of that body becomes the focus of much of the story in Devil Bones. Soon thereafter, a body is dumped that displays satanic signs. Are the two events connected? How?

The investigation has many unexpected twists and turns, most of which wouldn't have happened if Tempe had been a little sharper in assessing one of the clues. If you are quicker than Tempe, you'll unravel the mystery faster than she did. But you'll probably miss the real criminal until all is revealed unless you have ESP.

I learned way too much about pagan religions and medical details from this book, but I liked the mystery being difficult to solve. So I rounded up from two stars to three.
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Temperance Brennan, the forty-plus forensic anthropologist, explores alternative religions in "Devil Bones," the latest Kathy Reichs thriller. An employee of the state of North Carolina, Tempe is under contract to Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She examines "the burned, decomposed, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, and skeletal." This time around, she has a great deal on her plate. First, she is called to a "chamber of horrors" containing human and animal remains and various objects, including cauldrons, statues, candles, and dolls pierced with miniature swords. Was this the site of some sort of satanic ritual? Next, a dog walker finds a headless body near a lake. The victim's torso had been carved up with various markings that might also point to a ritualistic killing. These findings set off a firestorm, fueled by hysterical media coverage and the ranting of a grandstanding politician named Boyce Lingo, who decries "murderous devil worshippers" allowed to go unpunished. Tempe is livid not only about the leaks, but about Lingo's wild speculation and baseless accusations.

Tempe, who teams up with Erskine "Skinny" Slidell, an unkempt but hard-working and insightful homicide detective, is destined for much grief as she tries to make sense of these seemingly unrelated cases. Not only are they bashed by Lingo and disreputable reporters, but they are also frustrated by contradictory evidence, a lack of credible witnesses, and leads that go nowhere. In addition, Tempe's personal life is in turmoil, as she struggles to come to terms with her alcoholism, her ex's engagement, and her mixed feelings for Andrew Ryan, the Montreal detective who stole her heart and then proceeded to break it.

In "Devil Bones," Reichs imparts a great deal of geographical, sociological, and historical lore about Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, plus a great deal of information about maggots, putrefaction, and skeletal remains. The author's didacticism can be grating at times, although hard-core forensic junkies will most likely be fascinated by Reichs' detailed and exhaustive explanations. The plot is carefully constructed, albeit dizzying in its complexity. One of the book's main themes is the ubiquity in our country of such ideologies as Santeria, voodo, and Wicca. Are the practitioners of these unconventional belief systems harmless individuals who should be allowed to practice their faith in peace, or do they pose a threat to the population at large?

Although "Devil Bones" is exciting and suspenseful, it is far from realistic. In an interview, Reichs admits that it is rare for a forensic anthropologist to go into the field along with detectives to question witnesses and work cases from an investigative angle. Although the mysteries are involving enough, the story's most appealing angle is its focus on Tempe's midlife crisis. She cannot keep her opinions to herself, even when her boss orders her to be silent. She still has trouble avoiding alcohol and the oblivion it provides. In addition, she hates being alone, but is afraid to trust any man after the betrayals she has suffered. Anyone who has followed Tempe during her long and arduous journey will want to accompany her once again as she tries to solve some of the strangest puzzles she has ever encountered.
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on September 3, 2008
I have to come to expect so much more from the series than this book was able to offer. The historical background is dry and uninteresting, not the usual transfer of intriguing information by the author. It is not that the topic is not interesting to me as I am a practicing member of an earth-oriented religion. However the intellectual areas do not mesh with the interpersonal on a level I have come to expect from the author. The use of ending a paragraph negating all that was just written in terms of dire future events became annoying. Bringing an new romantic character and then not developing him at all was a letdown and the coming of Andrew Ryan into the storyline seem trite and contrived as if he was there as a useless appendage. His part was also never developed to satifaction. Lastly we have he ex-husband and dragging in all THAT involves with the half his age fiance' and again the developement was left undone. I think the book would have been better served to leave off so many personal demons, including the off the wagon drinking binge that happens and then is treated as if there were no physical effects and fewer mental ones. All in all it was an OK read, but not up to standards of the other Tempe Brennan novels.
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on November 6, 2008
This book and the entire series has a good plot line, but Tempe could definitely use a few courses in diplomacy and anger management. How hard is it to follow your bosses order not to talk to the press, then Tempe goes head to head with a politician on TV. If you don't like your heroes making a fool of themselves in the extreme (and I don't) this book will drive you nuts. To be truthful I had to skip entire paragraphs because her actions were so stupid
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on July 2, 2009
Normally love Kathy Reich's books, but this was a real slog. Way TMI about Charlotte, and too much excruciating forensic detail. Half the book before the story picked up. Her normal wit and humor are almost totally absent, and the plot had an unbelievable number of coincidences to wind up the story. Hope her next book is back to her old standards.
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on October 15, 2008
This is probably the least likable of Reichs' Temperance Brennan novels. The subject matter concerns ritualistic killings connected to Santeria, a religion commonly found in the Caribbean Islands and Cuba. The usual subplots involve Tempe's love life (daughter Katy is setting her up with an old friend from school) and a fundamentalist minister running for office, who insists that the perpetrators of these killings get the death penalty. His character is the reason people firmly believe in the separation of Church and State.

The plot moves along quickly, but I wasn't quite as drawn into this book and I have been her others, namely "Bones to Ashes" and "Fatal Voyage." This book feels more like she's just going through the motions.
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VINE VOICEon October 9, 2008
I'm not going to recap the story for you as it has been covered several times.

I have read every novel by Kathy Reichs and this is the first one I have NOT enjoyed. What's worse is I have been aware of it all along. Every page has been a little too much, a little too much detail, a little too much covering of the info we already know about Temperance. Not nearly as bad as Patricia Cornwell. One of the reasons Cornwell is so tedious is because she is the center of every novel. In Temperance Brennan novels, the mystery is the center.

But there is a terrible disconnect between the novel and the television program. The characters are unpleasantly different. The television program has a character who is wooden, unfeeling, scientific to a fault. The differences make it very difficult to read the book.

Part of the problem is that I can't figure out which Temperance I like better. It may be the one on television.
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on October 15, 2014
You all have had "one of those days" -- days when it feels like nothing is going right, and even when something is r I got in one respect, it is wrong in oh! so many more?
Well, in this book, Temperance is having one of those days. And one of those cases -- or is it not one case, but more? And one of those days with her long-time boyfriend; well, maybe not -- they are broken up... or are they?
Couple that with exceedingly hot or extremely cold with her daughter, and you have Tempi's personal story during this book.
Did I mention that her daughter is trying to hook her up with one of her coworkers in the attorneys office in which she works?... And that Tempe had more than simply known him during her school days? And that she is also actively pursuing a meeting of Temperance with Summer, her father's fiance, nearly young enough to be her sister?
Yes, Temperance is having a slew of very, very bad days. And you'll feel every bit of emotion emitted from those days. And even laugh at how much her responses resemble those you had in similar circumstances.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg; let's not risk revealing anything that might be considered a spoiler.
And the cases... Bones found in strange configurations, suggesting stranger still religious practices, including devil worship. And, of course, the media latches onto that. Not just reporting, but nearly calling for vigilante organization against the immoral devil-worshippers infecting the community.
Will the bambling [Ok, not a real word: think rambling politician overflowing with self-promotion ideas (more aptly, ideals) with Billy Graham charisma, always at the right place at the wrong time (for everyone else, especially law enforcement), and hell-bent upon inciting a modern version of the Salem Witch Trials] politician succeed in inciting public wrath, leading to violent outcry and actions? Will the apparent reporter (who also appears at all the wrong times, in all the wrong places) finally break down her targets, gaining information intended to remain under wraps?...and whose career will she burn in the process?
And will the links between these cases -- apparent satanic ritual, apparent form of voodoo or witchcraft, murdered cop, possible murdered innocent -- ever surface, or will they prove to be disparate crimes linked merely by temporal proximity?
No answers here. But you'll be firmly gripped by the author as she leads you through the investigations and, finally, after trials and errors pulling you in all these directions, guides you through to the conclusion. And you'll enjoy every step of the process.
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on March 30, 2015
Fast-paced mystery with plenty of twists to keep the reader interested. Informative and educational. These stories are not HEA. They are brutal and realistic. Fear of someone's sexual persuasion and religious intolerance are the base of this story.

“Fear of women’s power runs like a subtext through most of today’s religions. Modern church doctrines are full of stories of sirens and witches and enchantresses under the full moon. Empowering male propaganda. “And it’s so ironic, because ancient artifacts suggest people first worshipped a female deity, a goddess or earth mother. Did you see the image over the coven house door?”

"I learned of the Law of Threefold Return, the belief that both good and bad deeds reflect back on the doer, and of the Eight Wiccan Virtues: mirth, reverence, honor, humility, strength, beauty, power, and compassion."

I may re-read this story and always look forward to other works by this author.
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on June 6, 2015
I have been a fan of Kathy Reichs since a friend recommended her over 10 years ago. Somehow I missed this one and was happy to see it on sale in the Kindle store. It filled in some of the relationship mysteries of later stories I have read.

The story involves the discovery of some bones in a cellar during home renovations. At various times the clues point towards Voodoo, Santeria, Wicca and possibly other murders. There is a suitable amount of background information and technical details so we can follow Brennan's logic, even when it leads to dead ends.

I am also a fan of the TV show Bones, but in some ways that is almost a parody of the Temperance Brennen books. The books are much more serious and richer in content, and the characters are less cliched.
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