||A Review of: Bare Bones
by Des McNally
This sixth novel in the Temperance Brennan series opens at a sprightly
pace. In fact, so pacy are the early chapters, that when the author
turns to introducing and developing her characters, the narrative
slows considerably, like changing from fourth gear to first in one
Set in North Carolina, this mystery includes many friends that
Reich's readers are familiar with: Andrew Ryan our heroine's current
flame, Katy her daughter, and of course her pet dog and cat, Boyd
and Birdie, to whom Brennan often confides her most secret thoughts.
Not content with a single compelling mystery, Reichs involves us
in drug smuggling, possible infanticide, the poaching of rare animals
and the trafficking of their various body parts, a plane crash that
causes the death of two people, a headless corpse and many disconnected
human remains at a plethora of locations all seemingly without a
common denominator. Assisted by an obnoxious detective, "Skinny"
Slidell-whose use of folksy down south sayings and "witticisms"
truly irritates at times-Brennan manages to pull all of these crimes
and illegal activities together at great risk to her personal safety,
and presents us with an interesting finale.
While this novel will make pleasant Sunday afternoon reading, some
questions must be raised: For example, Brennan, after an encounter
too brief, expresses grave concerns about her daughter's new
boyfriend, Palmer Cousins, for no reason other than that he is very
good looking. We're first subjected to these misgivings of a doting
mother on page 27, but afterwards, we're forced to wait until page
166 to hear of him again. In addition, I have yet to understand why
Ryan, born in Nova Scotia, employed as a Police detective in Montreal,
constantly talks like Hopalong Cassidy in a "B" western
movie. Frankly it's irritating! As is the use of too many abbreviations
such as "mope", "perp", "vic" and
"pax"-the latter apparently referring to "passenger"
and I've thought for all these years that it meant "peace"
in Latin! These things undermine Reich's writing.
Despite these criticisms, Reichs is undoubtedly superior to her
contemporaries when she tackles the forensic aspects of her cases.
At these times, her style changes for the better, and she seems
much more at ease. Both at the crime scenes and in the morgue, her
vivid descriptions and explanations are excellent.
Reichs has filled this latest novel with so many situations,
characters and locales that the plot is at times confusing. The
author herself seems to be aware of this, and twice recapitulates
the myriad of conundrums she, and we, are confronted with. For this
the reader is most grateful.
If you were disappointed by Reich's previous offering, Grave Secrets,
you should be pleased with this latest improved effort.