It’s hard to resist another Kathy Reichs’ novel and I could not resist access to an advance copy of Speaking in Bones. Well, I say that, but I had somehow missed the last 3 novels since this is my first one since Flash and Bones and Spider Bones in 2011, which I read just before starting this blog. Blame all those reading projects and literature MOOCs I spent time on in the past 3 years: I neglected one of my favorite mystery writers.
I met Kathy Reichs in the early 90s, much before the publication of her debut novel Déjà Dead in 1997. She was a visiting professor in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Concordia University. I was a Sociology graduate student with interests far removed from forensic anthropology but when she offered to give a lecture for students with pictures from real life cases, who could have said no? And when I later say her name in print I was really excited… I was already a Patricia Cornwell fan but Kathy Reichs had this extra aura of authenticity, she was the real thing! Now, could she make it as an author? The proof of that has been amply made.
Speaking in Bones covers familiar ground with Tempe Brennan working in the medical examiner’s office in Charlotte, North Carolina, when she receive a phone call from a certain Harriet Strike, aka Lucky Strike, who claims that she has evidence about a missing person. The key problem is that the young woman that Lucky Strike claim has been missing has not been reported by her own parents. They seem to strongly believe she left of her own accord.
Dr. Brennan is skeptical and questions Ms. Strike about her information sources. The latter introduces her to the online underworld of web sleuths, amateur investigators who use the web to solve missing person or cold cases. She then realizes that Ms. Strike was instrumental in solving a famous case of a body long unidentified.
Her own investigation takes her into the mountains of western North Carolina, to a church run by a rogue priest, to treacherous hiking paths, and friendly encounters with a local law enforcement official and his home-schooled cadaver dog.
Unfortunately, this new investigation causes her to cancel a trip to Montreal where detective Andrew Ryan awaits an answer to his wedding proposal. Tempe has a hard time understanding her own discomfort with his proposal and the relationship is in peril again. She could very well take a lesson from her elderly mother’s own plunge into the risky territory of new love…
After a couple of dead bodies, including the early demise of the not-so-lucky Lucky Strike, Tempe stumbles per chance on a clue that could very have led her to an early grave as well… The key to the mystery will surprise more than a few, but this blog is not where you will find out about it.
The book is now featured prominently in displays in airports and bookstores around the US (as I have seen in the past few days). I recommend this book to mystery lovers who like to spend a lazy summer afternoon reading in the shade. Y’all have yourselves a sweet iced tea while you’re at it.
Reichs, Kathy. Speaking in Bones. Bantam Books, New York, 2015.