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A Conspiracy of Bones: A Temperance Brennan Novel

Review

A Conspiracy of Bones: A Temperance Brennan Novel

During a brutal heat wave and still dealing with the aftereffects of a brain aneurysm that has brought on vicious headaches and mild hallucinations, forensic anthropologist Temperance “Tempe” Brennan should be in no shape to deal with the case that may end her career. A CONSPIRACY OF BONES finds Tempe at odds with her new boss, Dr. Margot Heavner, at the medical examiner's office in Charlotte, North Carolina. She would like to just hang it all up after the many years of service she has given them, but the latest case that has arrived at their lab cannot be ignored.

What drives Tempe's interest is a series of text messages she receives, each containing a different photo of a hideously damaged corpse. Most of the face is gone, as well as the eyes and ears. Additionally, the chest is badly scarred with the stomach and all-surrounding organs removed. Both forearms are mangled from the elbow down. Whoever took the time to mutilate the body certainly did not want identification to be an easy process.

"Reichs continues to provide top-notch forensics, along with her highly skilled writing style, making each story in this series both a learning experience and a terrific thriller."

Tempe rushes to the medical examiner’s office to find that the very same body has arrived there. Unfortunately for her, Dr. Heavner has taken control of the case and has made it quite clear she does not want or need Tempe’s assistance. Tempe humbly moves aside, but has no desire to stay away completely. With a phone call to an old friend and colleague, former homicide detective Skinny Slidell, her own investigation has just begun.

Heavner gets word that Tempe may be working on her own and threatens her away from the case. She also wants to pursue the investigation as a high-profile murder rather than a suicide to make her results shine brighter. At this point, Tempe would like nothing more than to leave a finished file on Heavner's desk along with her ID. Tempe and Slidell have to start slow, and with neither of them technically working on the “inside,” they must rely on their skills and smarts to dig deeper into this gruesome John Doe case.

Eventually they determine the victim’s identity: Felix Vodyanov, who is of Latvian descent. Latvia was once part of Russia, and they need to see if there is any significance to this connection. Kathy Reichs uses her strength in both expert plotting and slick writing to keep everything hopping, as there appears to be a new revelation in every chapter. Slidell is full of great quips and snappy dialogue, which nicely balance with the usually stalwart Tempe.

Their questioning turns up information that targets Vodyanov as a possible Russian spy who may have been involved in transferring top secret technology from Russia to the West. It seems like each person they speak with provides more details that spin things into unexpected directions. There is the possibility that Vodyanov may have been involved with heavy government experimentation, including mind control. I suddenly felt like I was reading THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE!

What happens next really blows things up for Tempe and Slidell. They find photographic evidence that links Vodyanov with popular conspiracy theorist Nick Body. Additionally, these men are involved with a group that calls themselves DeepHaven, which deals with the sale of underground bunkers and safety shelters. The possibility that some of these members may have been involved in child pornography makes them that much more dangerous to be around.

When Tempe's nice townhouse is completely tossed, with some of it burned, the disappearance of her computer and all her case notes are the least of her troubles. The situation is getting quite serious, yet nothing will stop the bulldog-like Tempe from getting the answers she needs.

Readers of these books will be surprised at how different they are from the now-finished FOX series "Bones." I admit that I gave up on the program a few years before it ended because I thought it was becoming too goofy and lighthearted. Be assured, fearless readers, there is no such silliness in the novels. Reichs continues to provide top-notch forensics, along with her highly skilled writing style, making each story in this series both a learning experience and a terrific thriller.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 20, 2020

A Conspiracy of Bones: A Temperance Brennan Novel
by Kathy Reichs

  • Publication Date: March 17, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1982138882
  • ISBN-13: 9781982138882