Every year or two I read another Kathy Reichs crime novel. I’m reading them in order so that I can also keep tabs on Temperance Brennan’s personal life. Recently I was excited to be in the audience at a BBC radio interview with the author, and got to ask her a question. She is a forensic anthropologist who divides her time between Canada and the US, sits on various boards, and is often a witness in court cases where an expert is needed to testify. Where does she find the time to write novels as well? I asked her if the topics from her series actually come from her own work, and they do. Not surprising, but still nice to know. I’ve actually never watched the popular TV series Bones, based on Reich’s books, mostly because I don’t want to alter the image of the novels in my own mind.
‘Cross Bones’ has an archaeological focus and takes place mostly in Jerusalem. Masada features briefly as well. Temperance and Ryan actually go on the trip together because there is police business to attend to as well. In addition to the taut drama around solving the case, it is obvious from sidebars in the story and in reading between the lines, that the author was affected by her trip to the Holy Land. It is hard not to be, when you see firsthand how conflict is splitting the region apart.
Reichs writes a story with a smart sassy narrative. And Temperance always finds herself in trouble somewhere along the line. But what I enjoy most about her novels is what I learn about the human anatomy from the authentic examination of the bones in her lab. She sort of honours these dead people with her curiosity about who they were and how they lived. As a result she almost brings them back to life.
When an author cranks out a novel a year, you know that it is going to be slightly formulaic and have some repetitive stylistic qualities. Some readers may become irritated by her ‘end of chapter cliffhangers’ and her tendency to sum everything up in lengthy explanations towards the end of the book. But I still find the series quite enjoyable.