Friday, 15 June 2012

Book 49 of 2012: Bones To Ashes

It’s really just as well that I was so determined to get myself ahead on my book reviews because not having OU to work on, and a bank holiday weekend suddenly mean that I had far more time than I knew what to do with. So I did what any normal person would do, I weeded the back garden, spent a whole day playing on The Sims 3, and read and read and read. Between the 1st of June (which I had off, giving me a nice l-o-o-o-n-g weekend) and the 5th I managed to read books 47 through 50 of the year.

And number 49 was Kathy Reichs’ Bones to Ashes. This one begins slightly differently, giving more of an insight into Tempe’s past and early childhood. In previous books we’ve had glimpses of her youth and her life growing up, but never quite in as much sustained detail as this. Previous books have mentioned her father’s alcoholism and her baby brother’s death, but the opening chapters of this book has Tempe tell us all about how this affected her as a child. It also introduces us to a girl she made friends with at the time, Evangeline, from Canada, who after just a few years of friendship disappeared leaving Tempe wondering exactly what happened to her.

Flash forward to the present and there’s a possible serial murder of young girls been discovered in Montreal, coupled with some bones which have been residing at a police station for a number of years which may be linked to the missing Evangeline. And Tempe’s on the case.

This one picks up shortly after the action of Break No Bones (which ended, frustratingly, with her in a sort of romantic limbo between Andrew Ryan and her ex-husband). Tempe’s back in Canada for this case; I can’t say exactly what it is about the Canadian cases, possibly the fact that they usually include a plausible reason for Ryan to be involved in the investigation, but they’re always my favourites. I was quite relieved to discover that in this book Pete announces his engagement to a woman around the same age as his daughter, suggesting that he’s well and truly over Tempe. Unfortunately, it seems so is Ryan, though that didn’t seem to stop them hooking up midway through the book, so I’m curious to see how that’s going to play out in the future books.

This is also probably a good time to mention just how dangerous it seems to be to actually befriend Tempe. I’ve mentioned before the rather formulaic structure of these books with Tempe becoming incapacitated/abducted/ill/bopped on the head/etc. somewhere around Chapter 30 (though this is a structure which hasn’t been quite so strictly adhered to in the later books). Well, in every book there is frequently a friend or family member who, usually as a result of Tempe’s activities (or if not, conveniently connected to them), is attacked or placed in some sort of deadly peril.

Right from the start of this book, as soon as Evangeline was mentioned, I knew that things were not going to go well for the poor kid. Admittedly, her troubles started long before she met young Temperance Brennan and nothing her friend did influenced what ultimately happened to her, but still it seems that she was just the first in a long line of unfortunates who have associated with Tempe; in the first book it was her best friend who was murdered but since then both her sister and her nephew have been abducted by a cult/shot, Andrew Ryan has been shot, as has her husband. Whenever a new friend is mentioned in one of these books I can’t help but wonder what disaster will befall them!

That probably makes it sound like I don’t really like these books, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I really like them. It was so good to finally get my hands on one which I’ve never read before. I think I would have sailed through it even if I hadn’t had so much free time to read, purely because once I start one of Kathy Reichs’ books, I really hate having to put it down. I’m sure that this being the first read of it made me read it quicker.

I also felt a slight sense of smugness at figuring out what condition had caused the deformities in the bones Tempe was examining. You’d think an anthropologist would have recognised leprosy. It was a little convenient how the mystery remains linked back to Evangeline, unrealistic perhaps, but not something I can really complain about. I’ve accepted that with any case Tempe investigates, it will somehow link to another of her cases/something personal she is going through at the time. In a way it works well because it gives you two stories, the foreground one and the background one, and the two can feed off one another.

My copy had the opening for the next book in the series at the back which I’m eagerly waiting to read, it feels like I’m rediscovering Kathy Reichs all over again now. That’s the problem with books like these, once you’ve read them and you know who did it you don’t get quite the same satisfaction from revisiting them. Thank goodness there’s still a handful that I’m yet to read!

Harry has lived in Texas since dropping out of high school her senior year. Long story. Short marriage. Her concept of phone etiquette goes something like this. I’m up. I want to talk. Dial.
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