Most readers know by now that Kathy Reichs’ series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is the basis for the FOX TV show “Bones.” On that show, Tempe is single and has a cast assembled around the fictional Jeffersonian Institute where they all work and solve crimes.
In the novel series, Tempe Brennan is a sober, divorced mother of a college-aged daughter, with a patchy love life, who divides her work time between her office at the NC Medical Examiner and that of her counterpart in Montreal, Canada. This work-situation reflected Reichs’ own work situation before the novels took off.
Spider Bones returns Tempe to Montreal for the opener, where a dead body found in a pond under surreal circumstances has fingerprints that match those of a Viet Nam vet buried in Georgia. How can that be possible? Unraveling this mystery sends her to Hawaii for this decades-old mystery, and she brings along her daughter, Katie, grieving over the death of a close friend in Afghanistan. Brennan’s former Canadian lover, Ryan, and his drug-addict daughter Lilly somehow manage to become a part of this team, to the detriment of the novel. The acronyms of the various agencies Brennan must work cloud the story, true as they might be. At times this reader felt the weight of Reich’s exhaustive knowledge over powered her story, and some of the plot points felt off. Add in a shark attack with two victims, and the pacing became plodding.
This was not Reich’s best novel, uneven and off in places, but her large body of work is usually a rewarding read. This one you could miss without a dent in the series.