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The Bone Code: A Temperance Brennan Novel


The Bone Code: A Temperance Brennan Novel

“DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” – Richard Dawkins

The above quote, which opens the 20th novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, may not be commonplace to the average reader, but it means a lot to both Kathy Reichs and her protagonist. It speaks to the power of DNA and foretells the major role it will play in this engaging thriller.

Tempe is about to leave her South Carolina office due to the impending hurricane. However, before she can exit the premises, she needs to greet the elderly guest who has been waiting for her in the lobby. Seventy-three-year-old Polly Beecroft does not need help with a cold case or assistance with a current one. Rather, she has brought with her three photos to show Tempe, one of which depicts her and her identical twin, Harriet, who has since passed away. Then she pulls out a picture that was taken in the late 1800s featuring her grandmother and her grandmother’s sister, also identical twins. After seeing the final photo, Tempe becomes engaged and inquisitive.

"Kathy Reichs handles the forensic and genetic code details in such a manner that readers will never feel lost or confused, adding another layer of credibility to a solid thriller."

The Polly Beecroft story will factor into THE BONE CODE, but it is not central to the plot. Reichs has a real doozy in store for her readers with the revelation of the main storyline. Two bodies are pulled in from the shore, wrapped in plastic, bound with metal wires and encased in drum containers. Tempe shares these details with her partner, Andrew Ryan, who indicates that the remains remind him of a case he worked on in Montreal 15 years ago. This makes Tempe jump on the next plane to Canada to compare notes on both sets of victims to see if there is any connection between them.

As the two face an unexpected snowy October in Montreal while they investigate the cold case, they narrowly escape tragedy when a vehicle drives up to the sidewalk where they are. Ryan, who shields Tempe from impact, is hospitalized with minor injuries. They acknowledge that they have angered someone with their inquiries. But who and why?

Ryan makes a full recovery and continues to pursue the old case while Tempe heads back to South Carolina to team up with another detective who is overseeing the two unidentified bodies found there --- unidentified because teeth and fingers had been removed from the victims. Their leads produce valuable information that points them in the direction of a missing mother and daughter, and further investigation does tie the case to the Montreal one. Tempe and Ryan now must find out why four seemingly innocent women had to die.

Everything will be revealed during the final act of THE BODE CODE, and it deftly ties in to the DNA code that we were promised from the start. Kathy Reichs handles the forensic and genetic code details in such a manner that readers will never feel lost or confused, adding another layer of credibility to a solid thriller.

This case really hits Tempe hard, and when the Montreal victims are identified as Melanie Chalmers/Mèlanie Chalamet and Ella Chalmers/Chalamet, she loses herself in their mysterious backstory. In a great moment, she asks herself, “Who are you, Mèlanie Chalamet? Where did you come from? Why did you move to Canada and change your name? Whom did you fill with such rage or so seriously threaten that they took your life? And why your daughter’s?” These questions, and many more, will be answered. Trust me, it will be well worth the wait.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 24, 2021

The Bone Code: A Temperance Brennan Novel
by Kathy Reichs

  • Publication Date: May 3, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1982139978
  • ISBN-13: 9781982139971