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Friday, August 31, 2007

Bones to Ashes A Page-Turner of the Highest Order

Is it just me or have you had sequels coming out your ears, too? Or more accurately, sequels overflowing your bookshelf. I love series fiction for many reasons, but mostly because the characters feel like old friends, and I've always been better at maintaining old friendships than building new ones. At any rate, my newest sequel read was Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs. Her Temperance Brennan series is one of my favorites.

Bones to Ashes seems more personal than Reichs' previous books, mostly because it discusses Tempe's background in more depth than before. Specifically, it examines the disappearance of her childhood friend, Evangeline Landry. Well, that and a boatload of other cases - as a forensic anthropologist working in both the U.S. and Canada, Tempe always has her hands full. While she works overtime on the Landry cold case, she has a slew of bones from more recent deaths to examine. Several of the murders seem to be linked, possibly the work of a serial killer. As if that wasn't enough, Tempe also has to deal with an extended visit from her impulsive sister, Harry, as well as her more-complicated-than-ever love life. Her estranged husband, Pete, announces his engagement to a woman 20 years his junior, while her on-again-off-again boyfriend, cop Andrew Ryan, decides to heal a relationship with his ex for the sake of their daughter. Between the rejection from two men, a missing old friend and onimous telephone and email threats, Tempe's dealing with more than she can seemingly handle. Still, she can't let the disappearances go, not the cold ones or the active ones, despite the very dangerous turns they seem to be taking.

Fast-paced and exciting, this is a page-turner of the highest order. I did think the bad guys were a little bit generic, and the ending is kind of predictable. Still, it's always fascinating to "watch" Tempe solve a case. Reichs is a master at explaining forensic science simply and understandably, without coming across as condescending. Her writing style engages with warmth and wit. The character of Tempe Brennan shines, as always. As for minor characters, Harry wins the title of Most Entertaining, as Ryan and Pete don't clock much time in this one. I love Ryan, so I'm anxious to see what happens to him and Tempe. Alas, another sequel I'll have to read...

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