(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Finding dead bodies on Mount Everest is hardly unusual. Around 250 people have lost their lives while attempting to reach the top of its treacherous peak, some from exposure, some from falls, some due to deadly avalanches, others from heart attacks, mountain sickness, and a host of other causes. Most of their corpses remain on the mountain, their removal impossible in such an unforgiving terrain and climate. They serve as a grim reminder of nature's awesome power, its dominance over man with his foolhardy notions and (often) fatal conceit.
When the body of a climber is discovered on Everest after an earthquake jostles it loose, it's assumed to be that of Brighton Hollis, a 24-year-old woman who disappeared on the mountain three years ago. Her family—wealthy and very well-connected—wants to be sure it's her. Enter Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who examines bones discovered in both Charlotte, North Carolina, and Montreal. Her job is "simple": identify the remains. But what she finds is much, much more complicated. According to evidence on the battered corpse, Brighton Hollis didn't die from exposure or frostbite or an accidental fall. She was murdered.
As Tempe helps the police investigate Brighton's death, she learns that plenty of people had it in for the young climber. In fact, every member of her climbing team had reason to want her dead. Did one of them kill her, using Everest's extreme nature to cover up their crime? Or is someone else responsible for her brutal murder? Tempe needs to figure out what really happened to Brighton—and fast—or hers could be the next body lying on a gurney at the swanky new Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner facility.
Everyone knows I'm a huge Temperance Brennan fan (book version, not Bones version). I've read every book in Kathy Reichs' popular series starring the dedicated forensic anthropologist. While I've raved about many of them, ho-hummed over others, I always learn something from them. Reichs knows how to explain the complexities of forensic science in a way that is clear and engaging without insulting the reader's intelligence. Then, there's our heroine. Tempe, who is smart, funny, devoted, and self-deprecating is the kind of character that always speaks to me. I adore her, as well as all her quirky colleagues. Of course, Reichs' novels also offer tons of action, suspense, and mystery to keep the reader engaged.
So, yeah, it's a given that I'm going to enjoy—at least to some degree—every book Reichs writes about Tempe. Still, I found Bones on Ice (a novella that fits between Bones Never Lie and Speaking in Bones) to be especially intriguing. Knowing nothing at all about mountain climbing or Mt. Everest, I was riveted by every detail Reichs included, from the descriptions of climbing culture to the heartbreaking idea of a mountain littered with the bodies of dead dreamers. Learning about the methods use to examine a frozen corpse was likewise fascinating. Naturally, the novella also has lots of action, intriguing characters, and sparks flying between Tempe and her cohorts. Reichs blends all of these elements into a tight, engrossing story that kept me thoroughly entertained. Although Bones On Ice is not a full-length novel, it's still one of the best installments in the series. My mind and heart are still haunted by the sobering images of Everest Reichs planted in my head ...
(Readalikes: Other books in the Temperance Brennan series [Deja Dead; Death Du Jour; Deadly Decisions; Fatal Voyage; Grave Secrets; Bare Bones; Monday Mourning; Cross Bones; Break No Bones; Bones to Ashes; Devil Bones; 206 Bones; Spider Bones; Flash and Bones; Bones Are Forever; Bones in Her Pocket; Bones of the Lost; Swamp Bones; Bones Never Lie; and Speaking in Bones])
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives) and violence
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of Bones On Ice from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.