Written by Kathy Reichs — Temperance Brennan has come a long way in 18 books, but readers have never really learned how she got into forensic anthropology in the first place.
Until now, that is. Because one of the four novellas that make up Kathy Reichs’ latest work is a prequel to the very first Tempe novel, Deja Dead. In it, we learn exactly how she fell into the job that would lead her into danger and disaster – and how she first met Skinny Slidell!
As a lover of thick, juicy, tie you in a knot crime fiction, I was somewhat bothered by the prospect of a collection of short stories. But these are no mere snippets of tales, with the shortest at 60-plus pages and the longest weighing in at over 100 there is plenty for the reader to get their teeth into. Reichs fans already know she can handle the long game – now they’ll discover she is adept at the short game too. And we certainly get around in the process. From the Florida Everglades to the top of Mount Everest, to be precise.
The Bone Collections features four stand alone stories that are snappily written and deftly plotted. The reading journey begins with Bones in Her Pocket, which sees Tempe close to home as she checks out a bag of bones found floating in a lake in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. She is already investigating the discovery of a handful of human bones discovered close by and is hoping upon hope that this latest find will help to identify the dead man. But closer inspection reveals the skeleton to be female. Suddenly, the death rate in Mecklenburg has doubled.
Razor sharp dialogue and a good array of killer twists make this an entertaining tale that keeps you guessing, and the same can be said for the other three novellas – Swamp Bones (the Florida story), Bones of Ice (Everest) and First Bones (prequel). All have that Reichs trademark of grabbing you and engaging you from the get-go and are well scripted enough that you don’t feel let down by their brevity – although I still felt myself longing for more.
Swamp Bones has our heroine studying remains found in the stomach of an 18-foot python, and although she is lab bound in Bones of Ice, Mount Everest, and the dangerous climb to its summit, loom large. You’re always guaranteed to learn something in a Kathy Reichs book, and here we discover a number of interesting snippets and statistics, whether about puppy mills, pythons or the corpses that litter Everest. My favourite tale of them all is First Bones, where Tempe’s very first impressions of Skinny Slidell are revealed, and Reichs aficionados won’t be surprised to learn that they are not favourable! This final story is topped and tailed by scenes set in the present day and fans may need a tissue handy for the final denouement.
One of the things I love about Kathy Reichs is that she knows all about forensic anthropology and can convey it to her readers in simple terms, never talking down but constantly keeping us in the loop. Tempe is always at the heart of things and she’s a steady rock upon which to build a gripping narrative. The Bones Collection is quartet of stories that will keep Reichs and Brennan fans happy as the nights draw in – but I can’t help looking forward to the next full-length novel.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars