All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: A Conspiracy Of Bones by Kathy Reichs

on April 2, 2020

A Conspiracy Of Bones (Temperance Brennan #19)
Kathy Reichs
Simon & Schuster AUS
2020, 336p
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue, working mostly outside the system. That’s because Tempe’s new boss holds a fierce grudge against her and is determined to keep her out of the case. Tempe bulls forward anyway, even as she begins questioning her instincts. But the clues she discovers are disturbing and confusing. Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government? And why was he carrying the name of a child missing for almost a decade?

With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes…

I could not have been more surprised when this book turned up on the doorstep. I had figured that this series had finished – I gave up years ago. I would’ve said it had been about three years but I just looked it up and I last read a Temperance Brennan book (#17) over five years ago – December 2014. But I actually only missed one book – #18. Apparently the series was in limbo a couple of years and the author has now switched publishers. I think the only thing I missed appears to be that Tempe and Ryan are back on (again) and Tempe has a brain aneurysm because well, of course she does. Why not.

In this one, Tempe is back in North Carolina but things aren’t….great. Ryan is somewhere else, back in Canada starting up some PI business after having retired and then he’s in France for portions of the book on a case. Tempe’s old boss in North Carolina is dead (murdered? I must’ve missed that too actually) and the new one hates her so Tempe finds herself out on the outer, especially when a case that’s right up her professional alley is discovered. Someone texts her anonymously, pictures of a corpse that has been attacked by wild hogs post mortem. Tempe tries to help but finds herself rebuffed and threatened but when she sees that the professional is looking like making some critical mistakes, she decides to investigate herself along with Skinny Slidell. Skinny appears to also have followed Ryan in quitting the force and running his own PI business but he’s still at the police station all the time and has a desk there due to assisting on some cold cases or something, I don’t know. Seems like a convenient way for them to have access to police resources but also for Skinny to be able to do whatever he wants.

I nearly DNF’d this. I came really, really close. Tempe was really annoying me, more than I think she has in any other book before. I know she’s always been somewhat reckless and just also does whatever the heck she wants with little regard for her actual job description but it was getting a bit out of control this book. And also her head might explode or something, I don’t know, people seem concerned about it, unless your name is Temperance Brennan and then you are decidedly not concerned about it and you do stupid things that place yourself in danger and then you absolutely do not tell anyone that you are doing these things or wait for assistance and you definitely do not stop once it seems quite likely that someone drugged you, kidnapped you and bashed you over the head (the one that might explode). A lot happens to Tempe in this book, her house is trashed, she is constantly threatened, she discovers disturbing things about the corpse where he has a connection to her and look normally I’d say it’s just an average day in Tempe’s life. But in this one, Skinny is half in and half out of the picture and despite the fact that Tempe and Ryan are ‘on again’ she basically tells him nothing that she should tell him. He turns up at one stage after they find her knocked out under a hedge or something, they bone a few times, he leaves to go back to his case. Ryan used to be almost militantly concerned for her safety in Toronto, he once broke an undercover identity to save her from something, way back in about book 3 or so. Now he’s more like eh, I’ll pop in with some flowers for some love, make sure she’s not dead and then I’m out again. Got a horse to find. To be honest, Ryan feels like a completely different character. And I know things have happened to him since those early days…..but he’s barely Ryan anymore.

There was just a lot about Tempe’s actions in this that actually really bothered me, more than they usually would. Dumb stuff like her phone constantly not working so she constantly finds it turning off/no battery or something, which seems really suspicious and also means that she can’t contact people/be contacted and when you’re stumbling around into some really dangerous stuff, it’s just stupidity to be walking around with this stupid phone that hardly ever works and Tempe for the love of all that is holy go and get a new damn phone. Also the writing…..Reichs has always a very short, clipped way of writing and I guess you either like it or you don’t. It’s bothered me to varying degrees in the past but this book felt really over the top. It’s littered with passages like: got up. Found clothes. Coffee. Drank it. Sat down. Computer. Time to work. That’s paraphrased, not a quote (I’ve an uncorrected proof, I can’t quote from it), but it’s similar. And the more the book went on, the more I felt like Tempe might need a section for mental health reasons. She’s really paranoid throughout most of this and it comes across in almost hysterical sounding internal ramblings. She’s not sleeping and it shows. The only people she really has for support in this are Skinny (a good detective, pretty much does whatever Tempe asks but she rarely if ever listens to him) and her mother, an oddly proficient computer wizard but who is barely capable of a conversation that is in any way grounded in reality and not about men and/or sex.

I finished this, for the love of the series that I once had. I know what these books are capable of being but for me, this one was way off the mark.


Book #42 of 2020

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