Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review of Kathy Reichs's Bones Never Lie

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

I had rather lost track of author Kathy Reichs's Temperance Brennan series, so I leaped at the opportunity to read and review Bones Never Lie, the 17th in this series, which many consider the equal of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta books. Tempe is a forensic anthropologist who divides her time between Montreal and North Carolina, where her mother still lives. In the opening of this book, Tempe's Montreal partner and sometime lover, Andrew Ryan, has taken an extended leave and dropped completely out of sight after the death of his teenage daughter from a drug overdose. The police in North Carolina desperately want his expertise and experience to help catch a serial killer who had previously eluded arrest in Montreal, so Tempe's first assignment is to track down Ryan and persuade him to return to duty.

Old Montreal
Anique Pomperleau is a monster who kidnaps, tortures, and kills young girls. During an earlier case (I have not read that book yet), she had threatened Tempe, whose team had so nearly captured her. DNA found on the victim's clothing matched that of Anique; could the madwoman possibly have followed Tempe from Canada to North Carolina to extract revenge?

The suspense tightens and the case expands, as unsolved disappearances of young girls throughout the eastern US and Canada seem tied to the current investigation. The author is very good at ratcheting up the suspense gradually in her books, and this one is no exception.

It has been awhile since I read any of this series, so I don't remember Tempe's mother very clearly, if at all. This formidable woman, suffering from a variously diagnosed mental illness, has been in and out of private institutions for many years. In Bones Never Lie, her mother's online research is invaluable in tracking down the killer and linking previously unsolved crimes to the one Tempe and Ryan are investigating.

The team navigates its way through a variety of competing and sometimes grudging jurisdictions, until a surprisingly sticky twist that I will dream of for awhile turns the case on its head. Then a young friend who dog sits for Tempe in Charlotte disappears, and the case becomes both urgent and personal.

Emily Deschanel
Reichs, like her character Tempe, is a forensic anthropologist, one of only 56 certified in North America. Also like Tempe, she divides her time between Montreal and Charlotte. Her first novel, Déja Dead, won the Arthur Ellis prize, and the series has been shortlisted for many awards since. She was the inspiration and an early consultant for the TV series Bones, based on the books and starring Emily Deschanel as Tempe. I watched a couple of the episodes, and believe me, the books are much better!

It will be interesting to see how––or if––Tempe's personal relationship with her partner develops after his tragedy. Her mother is a charming addition; I'd love to see Mama's new computer research skills featured in upcoming books. The series had become less suspenseful and, frankly, somewhat depressing in recent years, but Reichs is back on form in this one. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys forensics thrillers.

Note: I received a free review copy of Bones Never Lie, which will be released by Bantam/Random House on September 23, 2014.


  1. IMHO Patricia Cornwell went off the rails with her 4th or 5th book and I've never returned, but Reich seems to maintain a consistent level of plot that I like.

  2. I agree, Eric, about Cornwell. A few of her later books were good, but she may just have run out those characters out as far as she could.