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‘Bones To Ashes’ by Kathy Reichs

‘BONES TO ASHES’ – A little bit about the book

The skeleton is that of a young girl, no more than fourteen years old – and forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan is struggling to keep her emotions in check.

A nagging in her subconscious won’t let up. A memory triggered, deep in her hindbrain – the disappearance of a childhood friend; no warning. no explanation.

Detective Andrew Ryan is working a series of parallel cases: three missing persons, three unidentified bodies – all female, all early-to-mid teens …. Could Tempe’s skeleton be yet another in this tragic line of young victims? Or is she over-reacting, making connections where none exist?

Working on instinct, Tempe takes matters into her own hands. But even she couldn’t have predicted the horrors this investigation would eventually uncover …. Can Tempe maintain a professional distance as the past catches up with her in this, her most deeply personal case yet?

Dr. KATHY REICHS – An author in the spotlight

Image Of Contemporary Author Dr. Kathy ReichsFrom teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as one of only seventy-seven forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Dr Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerising forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec.

Kathy Reichs has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted with identifying remains found at ground zero of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Kathy Reichs has served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Board in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

A native of Chicago, she now divides her time between Charlotte and Montreal. Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller, a Sunday Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. All eleven of her novels have been international bestsellers. She is also a producer of the chilling hit TV series Bones.

Catch up with all Kathy’s news at her website

Follow Kathy on Twitter

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To this day, a phone ringing after midnight makes me shiver. Perhaps I am alarmist. Or merely a realist. In my experience, late-night calls never bring good news.

‘BONES TO ASHES’ My thoughts about the book

“Babies die. People vanish. People die. Babies Vanish.”

As this was the first Temperance Brennan mystery I had read, it was good to find that the series didn’t obviously appear to need to be read in any chronological order and I found that this book stood alone as a great ‘one off’ story.

The plot, although sometimes disturbing, was racy and fast moving, with plenty of new twists and turns being thrown into the equation periodically, yet still not losing sight of the core storyline.

The tie-in between the present day investigation and Tempe’s childhood mystery, doesn’t just appear at the start and end of the book, leaving the reader wondering where it had disappeared to for the rest of the time; but is ever present, bubbling away under the surface and is a central part of the narrative.

The only thing that did irritate me slightly, was the introduction of Tempe’s sister into the story. Whilst I assumed she was there to strengthen the ties to Evangeline’s part in the mystery, I did feel that she was rather too simpering and a little surplus to requirements. The plot would have moved along just fine without her.

All the technical details of the story were explained clearly and in great detail. I almost felt as if I was leaning over Tempe’s shoulder, when she was in her lab, where she was describing and cataloguing the various stages of a corpses decomposition, putrefaction, autopsy and bone cleansing techniques …. I wondered if it was going to get a bit too technical at one point, but that definitely only added to the tension and interest, in my personal opinion and only provided information which was pertinent to the case.

Kathy also offered a concise, brief and interesting insight into the the life and culture of the Acadian community in Canada. It was just enough to whet my appetite, so that I went off and did quite a bit of extra research into the subject, which was fascinating reading.

Temperance herself, was quite a complex character, keeping her emotions well in check for most of the time, until just occasionally, the chinks in her armour showed for a brief, few moments …  The memories of losing both a parent and sibling at a young age and the void that it created in her life. The inability of her mother to communicate with her, leaving her confused, secluded and alone. Finding a friend,of her own age, with whom she could be herself, no questions asked, no judgements made. Then that friend disappeared from her life, with no explanation, leaving her bereft for a second time…This had all impacted on her adult life, which was still in turmoil. However, when offered the chance to have closure on a long ago mystery, Tempe spotted the opportunity to turn things around.

The character of Temperance Brennan, was given great strength, yet with enough softness showing through, in the difficult and demanding task of having to carry out forensic examinations on children. Helping to track down and bring to justice, the perverted individuals, who had caused their suffering, was very cathartic for her. although knowing that to get too personally involved could colour her judgement and jeopardise the whole case.

As usual with many fictional detectives, Tempe had a private life and past history, which was very much there in the present and threatened to intrude on the objectivity needed to bring closure to this complex case. The author handled these relationship issues with just the right amount of even handed emotion, which enabled the pair to separate their private and professional lives, although you knew that the issues were only being side-lined for the time being and were very much an unresolved storyline for the future.

Would I read more books from the series … Very likely, although probably not all of them and definitely not those which came before ‘Bones To Ashes’.

Check out the opening lines from the book here

Read just a few more random teaser lines here

This book was taken from my personal library collection and was originally a charity shop purchase.

This in no way influenced any comments I may have expressed about the book, in any blog article I have posted. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • This is an author and a series I’ve always heard wonderful things about, yet never read. I’m afraid I couldn’t stop myself from starting at the beginning of the series, but it’s nice to know I could jump in anywhere if I wanted.

    I love the line you shared. We’ve always said a middle of the night phone call either means someone’s died or someone’s in jail!

    • Hi Kelly,

      With some 18 books now in this series, I am not sure that I would want to become quite that addicted to it!

      Reviews of the earlier books are very good, however comments and ratings seem to have gone a bit downhill by the time they get to this book, ‘Bones To Ashes’, which is 10th in the series, although I believe that the authors reputation in her field of forensics, will probably keep the books relevant and relatively popular.

      I enjoyed this as a one off story and was considered it genuinely worth the four star rating I gave, however I certainly won’t be reading the entire series, although I will possibly dip into it from time to time.

      Late night phone calls never bode well do they, although I have never yet received that call directly from the police 🙂

      Enjoy your Sunday and thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi Katherine,

      I don’t know how many of the earlier books you managed to read, but there are now some 18 books in the series in total, so you may have some serious catching up to do 🙂

      Seriously, the books do work quite well as stand alone stories and any back story is very easy to pick up!

      Thanks for stopping by, I always look forward to your comments 🙂

  • I discovered this series when we were living in Charlotte and really enjoyed reading about a place I was familiar with. I haven’t read any of the books in a while but need to get back to them because I love Tempe!

    • Hi Kathy,

      I always like to check out books which I can relate to, either because they are set in a place I am familiar with, or because they are written by an author who lives locally to me, or who has their roots in the area. It somehow makes the process so much more personal and pleasing.

      I hope renewing your acquaintance with Tempe, is like meeting an old friend in the street, unexpectedly and it is just as though you had never been separated 🙂

    • Hi Tracy,

      I just love a good murder / mystery / thriller, so combine that with some excellent forensics scenes and you are on to a winner as far as I’m concerned!

      ‘Silent Witness’ used to be one of my favourite TV programmes, although I haven’t watched it for some time now. This is more to do with the fact that hubbie no longer works away, so I no longer have control of the TV remote, rather than me having lost interest!

      For the same reason, I have never seen the ‘Bones’ programme, although I know that it is available on our package. It’s funny how hubbie will watch US films until the cows come home, but mention a US drama, or series such as ‘Bones’ and it will always be a definite ‘No’

      I hope that you have enjoyed many of the ‘Bones’ books and thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Me again. On a slightly different note…. I’ve always wanted to watch Bones, the series based on her books. Only available on Sky in the past I was delighted to discover it on Freeview last week. As to whether it is any good or not. After only one episode the jury is still out.

    Loving your last post, thanks for the mention. How anyone can have a fear of chocolate is beyond me.

    • There are some strange sounding phobias out there, with some even stranger sounding names, but like yourself, I think that a fear of chocolate has to be the strangest!

      Dave has been following a facebook friend who has a habit of using a daily ‘minion’ quote in his posts. Today’s was very apt and made me chuckle …

      “When you’re stressed, you eat ice cream, cake, chocolate and sweets. Why?
      Because stressed spelled backwards is desserts”

      Have a good week 🙂

Written by Yvonne