Scribner, June 2003, 23.95, 320 pp.
Tempe Brennan shuttles between Charlotte, North Caroline and Quebec serving as a forensic anthropologist as needed. Currently she is in Charlotte, informing someone she knows that his granddaughter was burned to death in a wood stove and the police want to question his daughter. After she performs that grim duty, she, her daughter and their dog attend a barbecue party.
When the canine behaves like he did once before when he found a body, Tempe looks and finds bones. Her initial determination is that they are bear remains, which leaves her happy that no one was murdered and she and her Canadian boyfriend can go on a vacation. Just hours before she is to pick him up, she is called to the site of a plane crash where the bodies of two men were burned beyond recognition. While examining the bones for clues to the identity, Tempe relooks the bear remains and finds a human bone. This discovery leads to a series of events that force Tempe to either take a life or forfeit her own.
Kathy Reichs gets better with each book she writes. Considering the stratospheric level she started at that is quite an accomplishment. Her protagonist has made life-altering decisions and acts upon them so that the character stays fresh. BARE BONES is a thriller that fans of Patricia Cornwell and Linda Fairstein will enjoy. The novel contains just enough forensic data to make the story line understandable but not enough to overwhelm the reader. It is easy to predict that this book will be a New York Times best seller.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner