May 4, 2009

Review: Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs

BOOK #: 35
CHALLENGES: Triple 999 Challenge, New Authors Challenge, Genre Challenge, A to Z Challenge
RATING: 3.5 stars

You may have heard of Dr. Tempe Brennan even if you've never read one of Kathy Reichs' books. Dr. Brennan is one of the lead characters on the Fox drama Bones and is played by actress Emily Deschanel.

In this particular story, Dr. Brennan is supposed to be on vacation but body parts keep turning up. There's the dead baby in the woodstove, a bag of body parts found in the woods by her dog near a barbecue she was attending on her day off with her daughter, and then a plane crashes into the side of a rock cliff in the middle of a rural farm area. And that is just the beginning. Soon, even Dr. Brennan and her daughter are in trouble and may end up in body bags themselves.

This is the first Reichs' novel I have read. It may be a strange book to start off with, in the middle of a series, but it was available and looked like an intelligent mystery so I decided to see how she stacked up against my favorite mystery author, James Patterson. While Reichs is no Patterson, she does deliver quite the intelligent and witty story with some fresh ideas and well-developed characters.

Actually, there were a few too many characters in this book. That was one of the downfalls, in my opinion. I couldn't keep track of the lengthy suspect and victim lists. The only other aspect I did not like was that there seemed to be three seperate cases to keep track of in my mind at the beginning, that only later come to be related. While this made the story interesting, it also made it piecy instead of cohesive. I knew that the only reason for knowing about the sepearate incidents were that they would later be related, yet I still felt they were too disconnected from each other.

I did enjoy Reichs writing style and her use of humor to lighten the morbid theme. Dr. Brennan's love interest, Andrew Ryan, was perfect comic relief and made him endearing. Reich gives just enough detail so that you can picture the setting or character in your mind vividly, but she does not drag it out forever and works it into the story nicely, sandwiching it in between dialogue a lot of times.

I liked the way the story was wrapped up in the end, without details of any of the characters left dangling as if the author forgot to mention them. However, I would have liked to have read about the results as they were finding them, not told about it after the fact (even though I can see why this was done). I think Reichs has a good angle with the forensic anthropology and I love that she doesn't dumb down the terminology or the intelligence of the characters. I admire that in a writer. If I need to bust out the dictionary, they've done a good job.

My final analysis is that I will read another of Reichs' books and see if some of the complaints I had with Bare Bones are across the board with her books or if it is isolated to just this one. The story was good enough to recommend and good enough to seek out another one by this author.


  1. I haven't read Reichs latest book, but I really enjoyed all the rest of them. I know part of the appeal to me is that some of the action takes place in Charlotte.

  2. bermudaonion- Yes, I meant to mention that! It was fun to recognize the places and references Reichs gave. In one place, her and her daughter go to Amos' to hear the local band Weekend Excursion. I have been to Amos' and I have heard Weekend Excursion! Very cool. There were also several references to Freedom Park, which is my absolute favorite spot in all of Charlotte.

  3. Reichs was one of the main speakers at a Mystery Writers' conference I went to a few years ago (when I was playing with writing my own mystery, which is another story entirely). I read the first two in the series in preparation for meeting her. I thought they were well-written, I like the feisty and brainy heroine, and I really like the split between Montreal and Charlotte. But the books ended up being just a little too creepy for me. I have a "No Serial Killers" rule and, as I recall, both books violated that rule.

  4. Rose- I don't know which book in the series this one is, but it definitely violates your "no serial killer" rule as well. She did not split time between Montreal and Charlotte in this book, but stuck in Charlotte because of the amount of work for this case. I would like to read one where she goes back and forth. I think it would be fun.


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