From the distressing opening scene of a small maggot-infested corpse, you know straightaway that this latest from Kathy Reichs is seemingly more edgy in it's subject matter and choice of victim than her usual fare, as Temperance Brennan once again finds herself embroiled in murders most foul. With typical attention to detail, we follow Brennan's crucial forensic discoveries as she pieces together- sometimes literally, as later she solves a macabre jigsaw involving exhumed remains- the secrets that dead bodies can yield up under her close scrutiny . No matter how many times the song `Dem Dry Bones' crosses my mind in Reichs' detailing of which bone connects to which, I always find the specificity of this information strangely compelling andit always adds to the perennial authenticity of Brennan's logical and focused investigations of the human body.
Another weapon in Reichs' armour is her ability to perfectly capture place and atmosphere, whether in the `nuts and bolts' description of location, or is as particularly evident in the setting of Yellowknife, the own peculiar history of that location. Reichs' takes us on a historical trip back through Yellowknife's former fortunes as an area rich in gold, to it's now new lucrative position as a diamond -mining town. Personally, I rather enjoy this sojourn down a rags to riches memory lane (at least for some of the prospectors) to flesh out what is at times a slightly leaky story with some twists in the plot signposted a little too clearly for the seasoned crime reader. Also, in the course of the book, Reichs' tries a little homespun social analysis on the subject of race and dips her toe into a somewhat stereotypical depiction of environmental campaigners and, although I can understand her needing to employ these facets of the story to drive the plot forward in a particular direction, it does feel a tad forced and, dare I say it, slightly clunky at times.
On an altogether lighter note, Brennan finds herself torn between two lovers as a couple of former suitors flex their muscles and vie for her attention, with the inevitable butting of heads that always ensues in these situations, and with rather a surprise announcement by Brennan's daughter Katy to add to her personal chagrin, there is a nice balance as usual between Brennan the professional forensic anthropologist, a concerned mother and quite possibly a lover...no spoilers here!
I must confess after not having read a Kathy Reichs for a while it was quite nice to revisit a familiar character- like pulling on a comfy pair of slippers- and despite its flaws it was great to spend some time in the company of Temperance Brennan. I'd rather missed her!
(And it goes without saying, extra points for the adaptation of a Bond movie for the title...!)