Bones Of The Lost (Temperance Brennan #16)
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
When the body of a young girl is found dead by the side of the road, Temperance Brennan finds herself unusually invested in her fate. The detective who has caught the case, Skinny Slidell thinks she’s just another hooker, probably illegal. But she’s also a young girl, a nameless young girl and Tempe desperately wants to not only find out her identity but be able to return her to her family so that she may rest in peace and that they have some closure.
Tempe ignores her own cases, including the inspection of some mummified dogs from Peru and the case of a skull found down an outdoor toilet, for digging around in the case about the young girl. However once she finally gets around to doing some investigating into the Peruvian dogs and who is connected to that she starts to find that the same names are cropping up there as in the case surrounding the young girl. Was she part of an illegal trafficking network?
Tempe also travels to Afghanistan to review the bodies of two locals shot by an American who now faces court action. It is Tempe’s job to determine whether or not the American soldier shot them in defense because they were rushing at him, like he claims, or if he shot them in the back as they were fleeing him, like a witness claims. The career of this soldier hangs on what Tempe will find now that the local authorities have finally granted permission for an exhumation and examination.
Whilst in Afghanistan, Tempe gets the chance to see her daughter Katy who is serving there after signing up. Katy lost a boyfriend, killed in action and signed up in response to that and now Tempe fears for her day and night, much more than her ex-husband Pete does. And speaking of Pete, he’s getting ready for the wedding of the year – or is he? And are him and Tempe finally divorced? Her life is complicated in all corners but even Tempe is surprised when her trip to Afghanistan begins to tie in with her cases at home. If she’s right, then she could be able to save the lives of many more girls like their unnamed victim. But she could also lose her life.
Okay Temperance Brennan. This is the sixteenth book and it’s hard to sustain a series for so long at a high standard. I’ve read all of these books and most -most- have been fabulous. However there are a couple out there that really fall short of the mark and for me, this is definitely one of them. Kathy Reichs has always had a rather clipped way of writing which can become extremely tedious at times and this book takes that to a whole new level. Every sentence. Is truncated and. Seems. To. Be. Like this. It’s. Annoying. Speak. Like A. Normal. Person. Also, she has people ask other people questions that they would know the answer to in order for there to be a large information dump about some form of forensic science or life serving in the armed forces or whatever it is that Kathy Reichs needs to expound upon so that the reader understands as much as the characters do. The downside of this is you have someone lecturing Tempe on something she would already know about or Tempe lecturing someone else. It reads awkwardly.
Paging Detective Lieutenant Andrew Ryan – are you still even in this series? For the first ten books, the chemistry between Tempe and Ryan and then their off-on relationship kept these books sizzling. The last 4-5 books though they’ve been decidedly more off than on and it’s getting worse and worse each book. I can’t figure out if Reichs is phasing out Ryan entirely (and that’s what his 2 page scene in this book was) or what. If she is doing that, then please just do it and be done with it. Don’t mention him (or the lack of him) every other page so that we keep thinking about him. And if you are getting rid of him permanently then please please do not have Tempe go back to her former husband Pete. I cannot stand the Pete character and the stupid “sugarbritches” endearment he keeps dropping. I suspect that Pete must be based upon someone that Kathy Reichs adores because we just can’t seem to get rid of him, no matter what. Their marriage is over, the shared child is well into her twenties. We really don’t need him popping up half a dozen times every book.
I’ve read many books where a character like Tempe is working on two (or more) seemingly unconnected cases and then bam! all of a sudden they are linked. This book does this but unfortunately it does not do it well. It’s drawing rather a long bow to connect the dead girl Tempe is so drawn to with the Afghanistan case and the Peruvian dogs and the same players all being prominent in each. All of this stuff ends up revolving around someone from North Carolina. I know there aren’t many board certified people like Tempe but they do exist. She’s not the only person in the world qualified in her field. To have her connected to so many things was ludicrous. I’d have found it more believable if a colleague had contacted her with a connection or was looking for advice or information which allowed her to put everything together. Instead of her being in possession of all the information about all of the people which connected all of the cases. Not to mention all of the thing Tempe is included in – like going on police raids. “Stay in the car,” says Slidell. “Okay,” says Tempe. 5 seconds later, she’s out of the car and searching the building too. I like Slidell and I like the two of them together (not in that way) but I think he’d be less tolerant of Tempe interfering and being involved than Ryan was in Canada.
This installment isn’t the worst I’ve read in this series but unfortunately it’s far, far below the level of the best.
Book #224 of 2013