Dr. Temperance Brennan is one of the world's best forensic anthropologists, but when three dead newborn babies have been abandoned in the walls of an apartment, she is determined to find their mother and put her away. Temperance Brennan has seen many deaths, but three murdered babies and eventually a fourth, bother her more than most. Unfortunately, the suspect is nowhere around and she is forced to work with the only two men with whom she has had a sexual relationship with since the end of her marriage in order to find her.
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Various clues bring them to the area surrounding a Native American reservation, where the murderer's identity becomes more obvious. The probable mother of all four babies is a disabled woman who works as a prostitute and has a drug problem. Her name is Annaliese Ruben and she too, is murdered.
She was both physically and mentally challenged, so when she unexpectedly gave birth at home the first time to what her pimp said was a stillborn baby, she believed everything he said. He told her that because of her problems, any baby that she ever had in the future would be very sick and die right away, so if she had any more babies, she should hide them somewhere and leave so the police wouldn't arrest her for prostitution.
The dead babies lead to her, which resulted in her murder, which caused another investigation. Dr. Brennan's on/off fling Detective Andrew Ryan and her fling that lasted only a week many years ago, Sergeant Oliver Isaac Hasty, are both called into consult on the case. When they all wind up investigating near an Indian reservation known as Yellowknife, the situation expands further.
She is stalked and eventually kidnapped, while finding that the waitress who works at the restaurant in her hotel is familiar with a criminal involved in the case. The waitress soon disappears as well, with her body turning up later in water. Eventually, it is found that the mastermind behind Annaliese's and the server's murder is a seemingly innocent man named Horace Tyne, who claims to want to protect an indigenous animal, the Caribou.
In actuality, Farley Mcleod had little in life and less in death, owned what appeared to be worthless rights to a mineral dig. The dig was actually found to be an immense source of diamonds and would make the owner very, very wealthy. However, he did not know it and therefore his children, to whom he left his rights did not know either
His associate, Horace Tyne, did and planned to claim them for himself. To do so, he murdered Annaliese, her brother Daryl and convinced the sole surviving beneficiary, Snook, to sign over what she thought was the worthless land in exchange for him paying the taxes on the land. She was told he would be using the land to create a sanctuary for the Caribou and Dr. Brennan figured it out.
She diverted his attention just in time to save Snook, at which point the actual law enforcement involved filed reports and answered questions. Temperance, Andrew and Oliver return to Canada after talking about some of the tension present, although it is important to remember that there were only very brief implications of a sexual relationship and never anything more than a flashback with Oliver.
Best part of story, including ending:
It is part of an on-going series of books by a woman who does the type of things she writes about. It is a very precise series without being a medical text and emotionally intimate without being sappy. In addition, the story itself ( murdered babies, rare Caribou, etc.) were important aspects of the novel that led to a bigger story, although it was not always obvious.
Best scene in story:
Partway through the book, we discover that Dr. Brennan's daughter, Katy, has decided to join the military and although proud of her, she is also terrified. Her fear is put into context when she and Andrew Ryan are talking and he shares that his daughter is once again in drug rehab. That daughter, Lily, was only found to be his daughter as an adult and she was the reason that he and Temperance ended their romantic relationship. It was a telling scene that made it clear that there is likely to be more between them in the future.
Opinion about the main character:
Dr. Temperance Brennan is brilliant, educated and has an important job, but she also rarely cooks and forgets to buy groceries. She has endured countless murder sites, but the dead babies impact her immensely and that is an interesting adaptation of her existence as it is presented to the reader.