All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

on May 14, 2021

The Bone Code (Temperance Brennan #20)
Kathy Reichs
Simon & Schuster AUS
2021, 368p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: A storm has hit South Carolina, dredging up crimes of the past.

On the way to Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan receives a call from the Charleston coroner. During the storm, a medical waste container has washed up on the beach. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Chillingly, Tempe recognizes many details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec fifteen years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she flies to Montreal to gather evidence and convince her boss Pierre LaManch to reopen the cold case. She also seeks the advice—and comfort—of her longtime beau Andrew Ryan.

Meanwhile, a storm of a different type gathers force in South Carolina. The citizens of Charleston are struck by a bacterium that, at its worst, can eat human flesh. Thousands panic and test themselves for a rare genetic mutation that may have rendered them vulnerable.

Shockingly, Tempe eventually discovers that not only are the victims in both grisly murder cases related, but that the murders and the disease outbreak also have a common cause… 

I wasn’t really intending to read this – I read the last one, which appeared after a gap of several years and didn’t enjoy it that much. It feels like it’s been quite a while since I had enjoyed one of these. Early on, the writing style didn’t bother me as much, or it’s become more clipped over time. But so much of this feels like key words that make up sentences are missing and Tempe tends to think in like handfuls of words that get the point across like “Got up. Drove. Snowy roads. Work. At my desk. Bones. Phone calls. No sign of Ryan”. It just gets on my nerves a bit but I don’t know, I’m a sucker for a series and I think I always have this hope that the new one is going to be better. I did the same thing with the Janet Evanovich books before I finally let the dream go.

In this book, bodies that wash up in a barrel after a hurricane in South Carolina, turn out to be connected to a case Tempe once had in Montreal over 10 years ago (because of course they are, it’s like there’s literally only Tempe investigating everything in the US and Canada and something is almost always connected to something else from her past). It becomes a goal of hers to finally be able to identify the two bodies in the barrel in Montreal, who were buried unidentified. She’s back and forth between the two locations, investigating and digging and pressuring the relevant people to conduct this test or that, as science has moved on in the decade plus since the Montreal case.

I actually quite enjoyed the case, it was gruesome and sad and you could understand Tempe’s desire to give the victims a name and also, get some justice for them. The two in Montreal seemed to be a grown woman and a child, the two in South Carolina teen girls. Someone murdered them all, presumably the same person, given the identical methods, even with the distance and time between the two. Tempe is always the sort of person that crusades and doesn’t rest until she has her answers. Also if you’re curious, her head still might explode but she’s too busy to do things like book an MRI.

There be ***SPOILERS*** ahead.

But. There was one problem I did have with this plot and I’m surprised that the author thought it was a good idea to be honest. This takes place in a post-COVID19 world and presumably everyone is vaccinated and things are fine now as life is “back to normal” and Tempe and Ryan have no problems travelling around everywhere. However, what Tempe uncovers is that someone developed a way to use a vaccine to be able to make people more susceptible to a particular disease, transmitted via canine saliva. The same person would then profit off how to “protect” people from this disease.

I found this a really, really unfortunate time to make vaccines the bad guy. It feels like the anti-vax movement is at an all time high and given we are going through a worldwide pandemic which has decimated places, killed millions and affected pretty much every country on the planet in some way or other, despite that, there’s still a distrust of vaccines. There’s some pretty crazy stuff peddled out there on the internet and it’s actually surprising what people will believe: that vaccines cause autism, that they are a way for the government/Bill Gates to control us by inserting microchips, that the vaccines are worse than the disease, that they contain XYZ, it will infect you with the disease it’s claiming to protect you from, they don’t work so what’s the point anyway, everyone else is vaccinated so I don’t need to be, healthy people won’t die from COVID/the measles/the flu/etc. Now some of these are so crazy you wonder how any could believe them….but vaccination levels are actually at severe lows as more and more people “conscientiously object” and nut jobs like Pete Evans (an Australian chef of all things, who thinks he’s some sort of medical expert) spout their beliefs with zero medical evidence. Sometimes, it’s a genuine fear that people have, and it’s becoming harder for people to actually discern between actual medical fact and something Uncle Joe shared on Facebook. I honestly didn’t think vaccines needed another potential scaremongering, even one in a fiction book as the world attempts to get its citizens vaccinated for COVID19 as people are still dying in the thousands every day. Especially by an author who is a scientist.

Look it’s possible this is making fun of the ways in which people mouth off that vaccines are dangerous but Tempe is a scientist who uncovers a bunch of people working for a vaccine company that discovered a way to do this and a person killed like 5 people to protect this secret and make money. It doesn’t feel like satire or a joke and it just felt like it was a really ridiculous time to try and do this, even though this is a fiction novel. There’s already so much difficulty out there regarding trust and vaccines at the moment, it literally felt like the author could’ve made anything else the reasoning for murder.

4/10

Book #76 of 2021


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