All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Cross Bones – Kathy Reichs

on June 10, 2010

I finished this book quite a few days ago but I’ve been putting off writing this review, because I didn’t really know what to say about it. Firstly, I do like these books. A lot. This is #8 I think, I skipped #7 as it wasn’t in Borders and I had to have it shipped in from the US, so I bought this one and read it instead. And I can honestly say that it is the first one that I have not enjoyed. At all.

The basic plot (if you can call it that) is that Tempe is called to determine whether or not the death of an Orthodox Jewish man is murder or suicide. He has his own business, is married, well-to-do. Before she can really get into that, a man accosts her in the hallway of the Medical Lab and hands her a photo, saying what is in the photo is the reason the man is dead. She assumes he was one of the Jewish people selected to view the autopsy to make sure it’s in keeping with…whatever is supposed to be done when a Jewish person dies, but it is discovered pretty quickly he wasn’t cleared to be in the room. When Tempe looks at the picture, it’s of a skeleton. So far, it was kind of interesting. Especially when she discovered that it definitely wasn’t suicide.

And here is when the book lost me, because it skeered into the bones possibly being those of Jesus Christ. I’m an athiest, and a fairly devout one at that, so I lack a lot of religious knowledge. Never mind! This book explains everything for me! About thirty-five times! The passages are long and tedious. And repetitive. I might not have much religious background knowledge, but I’m also not stupid. I don’t need everything rehashed for me many times. And if the author felt the need to rehash so much, she must’ve known that it was tedious. And that maybe, a lot of people would skim those bits. So she’d better throw them in a few times so that hopefully, most of it stuck. There was lots of  Yeshua, son of Joseph and Jude, son of Jesus type stuff. It centres around the fact that these bones were found at Masada, a Jewish mountain/cave type fort thing from about 2000 years ago where a bunch of fantatics Sicarii rebels committed mass suicide rather than be captured/beaten by the Romans. And, oh the worldwide devastating effects for Christianity and Catholicism (mostly Catholicism) if it turns out that Jesus didn’t die on the Cross and lived to be a ripe old 80! And got married! And had children! And did normal type things. In the tomb where the bones were found, there are also other bones which are posited as being Jesus’ family – Mary and some brothers and sisters. I didn’t even know he had brothers and sisters and apparently that opinion differs on what religion you may be. Catholics believe she was a Virgin for life. The whole purity thing and all. Same for Jesus.

In process that actually seems far too easy, Tempe gets her hands on the skeleton in the picture. She carbon dates it, or whatever it is that they do, to about 2000 years ago, which fits the timeframe! So then she feels the need to inform the Israeli authorities and before you can blink, her and her boyfriend, Andrew Ryan, are on their way to Israel. With the bones. And one of her archeologist friends happens to be on a dig in Israel! And he takes her into some random caves or something, where they find more bones. Because random archeologist friend doesn’t believe the bones Tempe has are those of Jesus Christ (which is handy, because they’re stolen about 5m after Tempe enters the country. She has just been carting them around in a bloody sports bag or something) he believes that the bones in the cave are those of Jesus Christ.

Ugh. It was just too much for me. First one set of bones, then another set, both they stumble upon so so so so easily it was just amazingly ridiculous, are presumed to be those of Jesus Christ. The religious posturing and historical rambling goes on for pages. I found it tedious and boring to read. There was no real storyline to this book. Why was Ryan there? Because one of the subjects from the murder in the first pages of the book was spotted in Israel. So instead of just extraditing him to Canada, or waiting for him to return, the Canadian authorities okay Ryan to go to Israel and question him on the murder. And the Israeli detectives (holding him for nicking a necklace {a stupid deus ex machina to get him into custody}) are fine with Ryan wandering in and taking over.

Lastly, the book is written in a clipped, choppy style that I found incredibly distracting. Paragraphs are a sentence long. And sentences are between 3-5 words long. It was like the author realised the pacing of the book was going incredibly slowwwwllly so she tried to disguise that by making the writing feel like an episode of the Gilmore Girls on crack. Ryan and Tempe amped their ‘witty banter’ up a notch to forced fakery. I didn’t particularly like either of them in this book. And even though Ryan expressly warns her against going off alone, and to wait for him, after she’s tailed….she blindly goes off alone doing stupid things. Again. Except this time, I never really felt the suspense when she was held at gunpoint. I almost wanted them to shoot her so that this book would be over.

I also didn’t like the last chapter. The second-to-last chapter ends with a fiery crash and Tempe, random archeologist friend Jake and other person trying to escape before the car explodes into a fire ball. And then the last chapter starts with a narrative after everything is all fixed and right. I just thought that it was a lazy way to finish the book.

The authors notes in the back of the book that this was based loosely on a real story – finding of bones and some proposition that they could be the bones of Jesus and someone asked her if she might like to use it as a storyline for Tempe. I didn’t really look into it too much as by then I was just done with this book and everything in it but I might see if the real story was ever published and what happened there. I haven’t heard any major world-wide news broadcasts that the bones of Jesus have been found though. I think she should just stick to writing her mysteries between Montreal and North Carolina. They’re the ones that are the most tightly written and the most enjoyable. Where she uses her real life forensic experiences to create a story. Overall this book felt very forced, like she wrote it because someone else thought it was a good idea, or because she felt she had to. I’ve seen it described as the ‘poor man’s DaVinci Code. I have read The DaVinci Code but about 6 years ago now and I don’t remember it too well. I only remember that I didn’t like it that much either and the world-wide phenomenon that it was completely passed me by.

I really hope that the next book is a return to her old formula.


(Book #28 of my 50 Book Challenge)

4 responses to “Cross Bones – Kathy Reichs

  1. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I do believe that you ought to publish more on this subject, it may not be a taboo
    subject but usually people do not talk about these issues.

    To the next! All the best!!

  2. Audrey Winchester says:

    This. Was. Amazing. Thank you so much for making this review and kind of summary…? I don’t know, but it was absolutely brilliant. I am a fellow atheist and therefore I understood every aspect of this review.

  3. Adelia Bertetto says:

    First of all: thank you for your review.
    I find the style rather sloppy: too many dialogues and superfluous sentences. However, the author has the merit to expose an interesting topic, with the authority of a forensic anthropologist. She is not a product of vapid creative writing workshops.
    I had already read the controversial book «The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles R. Pellegrino (2007).
    I suggest the article:
    […] In the end, examinations of the Talpiot tomb can increase awareness of the questions surrounding the historical Jesus. By promoting scholarly inquiry like Charlesworth’s we can gain a clearer understanding of what really happened, and significantly help demythologize the belief that Jesus was a God who died for our sins.
    Adelia (born 1946)

  4. […] Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs. The binge continued. […]

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