“Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs
There are a couple of strands to the plot of this book. There is the main thread that describes the professional life of Temperance Brennan where she receives fragmentary human remains at her office, and there is the ongoing personal life thread which links each of this series of books. Professionally, Brennan gets involved with a police deputy from a neighbouring jurisdiction as they try to track down a missing person by the name of Cora Teague and try to identify the remains that have been found in fragments a few years ago. They get a little flirty, which brings an element of humanity to Brennan, which is a refreshing change from the way that the character is shown in the TV series “Bones”. Along the way of finding Cora Teague, Brennan and Ramsey get involved with an amateur web-sleuth who is convinced she knows what has happened to Cora Teague, and the pair of them find themselves involved with a fanatical church leader who is suspected of being involved with her disappearance and possible murder.
Personally, Brennan has to put off a trip to Montreal and her long-term boyfriend/partner Ryan in order to solve this case and it throws up a lot of issues for her, such as whether she wants to share her professional life with him as well as – or instead of – her personal life. The book ends with some sort of conclusion to her ongoing struggle with her personal life and her relationship with him.
My overall impression?
As with all of the previous books in this series I loved it. Reichs’ writing style is highly compelling and she has a knack of building in cliff-hangers to keep the reader interested in the story and wanting to know the next bit almost before the current bit is over. I love the descriptions of the rural settings in which this story is partially set, and I really liked the developing relationship between Brennan and Ramsey.
As far as plotting and narrative are concerned, Reichs is almost faultless. I could see no plot holes (or at least none that mattered), and the conclusion, though twisted, was logical and believable. I liked the balance of “standalone” plot, i.e., the search for the identity of the fragmentary remains etc and the “meta” plot, i.e., the development of Brennan’s character and the advancement of her personal issues that have developed over the whole series. There is enough of the standalone plot to make it readable as a one-off, although obviously a reader would get more out of the book if they know the backstory of Brennan and Ryan and understand the relationship with Slidell and so on.
Overall, great book and a cracking plot.
Who are the main characters?
As already discussed, this is a Temperance Brennan book and the story is told from her narrative viewpoint. There is a new “main” character in this book, Ramsey the neighbouring deputy, and apart from the “baddies” (which I can’t tell you about otherwise it will spoil it for you) most of the other characters have all been in the series before. Interestingly, they only play a small part in this story and I think the book works the better for it. For example, the small inclusion of Ryan, Slidell and Larabee means that the focus of the plot is Brennan herself which is something I have felt had started to become a bit of a problem in the last couple of books in the series.
Where is it set?
It is set in and around Charlotte (Brennan’s office), and in the Blue Ridge Mountains which is about a two-hour drive away for her.
Will I read the next in the series?
Most definitely, yes.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Yes I would. It would suit anyone who is interested in reading crime fiction and it is possible to pick up the threads of Brennan’s personal life in this one so it could be read without reading the previous ones. It is lighter on the forensics than earlier books in the series and it is less gruesome in that respect so if you haven’t read any of them because you feel a bit squeamish at that kind of thing, this one is more gentle on you, I promise.
Just a quick note on the character Temperance Brennan: She appears in this series of books and also as a TV character in “Bones”, and confusingly, Kathy Reichs has a creative hand in both. However, the character is completely different so don’t be surprised if you read the books expecting to find FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth et al and find them all distinctly absent. I prefer the written Brennan to the screen Brennan, but that’s just my personal choice and I’d love to see what you think of the differences/similarities between the two .