Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Bone Code

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs
7/6/21; 368 pages
Temperance Brennan Series #20

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs is a highly recommended procedural featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance (Tempe) Brennan. This is the 20th book in the series but it can be read as a stand-alone novel.

A storm has washed ashore a medical waste container on the South Carolina coast and the Charleston coroner calls Tempe Brennan to examine the two bodies found inside. The decomposed bodies are wrapped in plastic, bound with electrical wire, and each has a shot to the head, something she has seen before. Tempe is taken back fifteen years earlier when she had an identical case in Quebec. Could the two cases be connected? After the examination, she travels to Montreal to gather evidence from the previous case and to see Andrew Ryan, a former Quebec homicide detective turned PI, who’s her current significant other. During the same time South Carolina is experiencing an outbreak of a flesh-eating contagion, Capnocytophaga. There is a side story about a woman searching for the story behind a death mask.

It helps to have some familiarity with the series, or even Bones, the television spin-off of the books, in order to really appreciate the novel. The series features great step by step investigations of the cases and closely follows scientific procedures and advances in forensic medicine. The stories always follow two primary settings and then Tempe will visit other places while conducting her investigations. Tempe is a well- established character, as is Ryan, and her cat. Reichs' writing is always strong and the novel is well-paced, ensuring to keep you reading just one more chapter to reach the end.

It becomes clear that someone has a secret and will go to drastic measures to protect it. Who would have been involved over such a relatively long period of time to keep a secret and why? The final denouement is pitch perfect and ties up all the cases and questions raised in the book. The series is a bit formulaic, but admittedly it works and always results in a novel that is based on real medicine, entertaining and believable.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribner.

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