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Five stars to redress the balance.
on 1 December 2011
Not so much a review as a balancing response to the deluge of criticisms here, many of which are unfounded.
A number of reviewers complain about the improbability of the story. At the beginning of the book is a section entitled 'The Facts'. At the end of the book is a section entitled 'From the forensic files of Dr Kathy Reichs'. These readers seem to have failed to read either of these sections, both of which set out the actual historicity and factual occurrence of all the main events forming the skeleton (unavoidable pun!) of the story. Including the most improbable - the accidental find of the enshrouded bones in Jerusalem, as recently as 2000, even after the extensive archaeological digging to which the city has been subjected in modern times.
Despite always having to justify her involvement in the crime investigation, the reason for her and detective Ryan going off on this junket together are entirely plausible. Some seemingly have a hard time with their romance. So she has a sexual appetite and is enjoying the ride with Ryan - so what?! Would the same reaction be evident if it were a sexually active male protaganist?
Someone asked how anyone could hold forensic posts in both Canada and the US simultaneously - but this is if course exactly the case in the author's own life.
Someone took exception to the portrayal of the Chevra Kaddisha (the 'bone police'); they may perform a revered service, but the behaviour portrayed in the book was not exceptional, and there have certainly been far more heinous acts committed by other members of the ultra orthodox fraternity in Israel.
Yes, some of the ground covered in the detection and solution did follow a rather spiral path, but that's how some investigations proceed. (Wallander too is constantly convening meetings to retrace the ground covered so far, for instance.)
And yes, the tracing and retracing of the the familial relationships between the various bones, burial sites and ossuaries also became a bit vertiginous.
But overall, an unusual and intricate story, neatly woven and all the loose ends tied up at the end. Those who complained about a lack of resolution could only have been referring to the identity of a certain skeleton being left dangling, which (a) could hardly have been otherwise, given the evidence available and (b) didn't matter to the actual crime and its investigation. Which this remained primarily - the archaology, theology etc were ultimately only the exotic background.