Author – Kathy Reichs
Published – 2010 (hardback)
Genre – crime fiction
When I first started reading ‘crime fiction’ it was hard to find authors who had a female central character, with the exception of Miss Marple of course! I don’t think I felt I was missing out, but it would certainly have been better to have a character I identified with more. Then came along characters like Kay Scarpetta, Kinsey Millhone and Tempe Brennan and I got some new favourite authors. So I have been reading the “Bones” series by Kathy Reichs since the first book was published in 1997. Mortal Remains (or Spider Bones in the US) is the 13th in the series.
When Tempe is called to the scene of an autoerotic death, she has little idea of the tangled chain of events that will follow. Because the man whose body she is examining apparently died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam 40 years before. So who is buried in the soldier’s grave?
Tempe’s investigations take her to Honolulu where she is caught up not only in the mystery of the unidentified body in the soldier’s grave, but also dragged into investigating who, or what, killed the young men whose body parts have floated up onto a popular Hawaiian beach. And as Tempe gradually unravels the tangled threads of the mystery, it becomes clear that there are some who would rather the past stays dead and buried. And when Tempe proves difficult to frighten, they turn their attention to the person who means more to her than anyone else in the world.
The story starts in Quebec and the discovery of a body in a lake. When the corpse is identified as a North Carolina man who died in Vietnam, Tempe has to travel to Hawaii to investigate further – with me so far? Her arrival in Honolulu features something I found very irritating in her early books – the use of acronyms and the need to explain them all. Over two pages there are CIL, JPAC, CIL-THAI, CILHI, JTF-FA, DOD, POW/MIA and SEATO. Helpfully she explains them all – but this just gets in the way of the story telling. In general there was too much background and description for me.
I do like Tempe as a main character – she is certainly more engaging than Kay Scarpetta, and the relationships with her daughter & Detective Ryan are well written & very believable. As a viewer of the Bones TV series I do find it hard to keep the two characters apart in my head. Kathy Reichs may not see them as the same person, but I’m afraid there are too many similarities for me not to think of one when faced with the other.
While in Honoloulu Tempe is asked to help with the identification of some body parts which appear to be the remains from a shark attack. I’m not a huge fan of coincidence – and the fact that the shark remains are connected, all be it in a roundabout way, to Tempe’s other investigation is a bit too neat for me.
As ever with books like this, the people Tempe is investigating attempt to stop her and she’s attacked. As the blurb says “they turn their attention to the person who means more to her than anyone else in the world” – but despite this getting a mention upfront, it’s a short piece of action, around 5 or 6 pages form the end of the book, and not quite as the blurb describes.
Not one of the best books by Kathy Reichs. I’m sure that I’ll carry on reading her novels – but I’ve read some great first novels recently and hope that there may be a few new authors whose books I may pick up first.
Score – 3/5