206 Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #12)by Kathy Reichs
There are 206 bones in the human body. Forensic anthropologists know them/i>/i>/i>/i>
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs delivers another “outstanding” book (Publishers Weekly) in her “cleverly plotted” (The New York Times) Temperance Brennan series, the inspiration for the hit FOX television series Bones.
There are 206 bones in the human body. Forensic anthropologists know them intimately, can use them to reconstruct every kind of violent end. When Tempe finds herself regaining consciousness in some kind of very small, very dark, very cold enclosed space—bound, hands to feet—Tempe begins slowly to reconstruct...
Tempe and Lieutenant Ryan had accompanied the recently discovered remains of a missing heiress from Montreal to the Chicago morgue. Suddenly, Tempe was accused of mishandling the autopsy—and the case. Back in Montreal, the corpse of a second elderly woman was found in the woods, and then a third. Seamlessly weaving between Tempe’s present-tense terror as she’s held captive and her memory of the cases of these murdered women, Reichs reveals the incredible devastation that would occur if a forensic colleague sabotaged work in the lab. The chemistry between Tempe and Ryan intensifies as this complex, riveting tale unfolds, proving once again, that Reichs is the dominant talent in forensic mystery writing.
The New York Times
Read an Excerpt
ANOTHER WRISTWATCH CHECK. ANOTHER SIGH. MORE shifting feet.
Above us, a wall clock ticked steadily, indifferent to Ryan’s restlessness. It was the old-fashioned analog kind, round, with a sweep second hand that jumped in one-second increments with sharp little clicks.
I surveyed my surroundings. Same plastic plant. Same bad print of a street scene in winter. Same half-empty mugs of tepid coffee. Phone. LCD projector. Screen. Laser pointer. Nothing new had magically appeared since I last looked.
Back to the clock. A logo identified the manufacturer as Enterprise. Or perhaps that was a name for this particular model.
Did people christen timepieces? Arnie Analog? Reggie Regulator?
OK. I was as edgy as Ryan. And very, very bored.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Old Enterprise said it was ten twenty-two. Oh-six. Oh-seven. Oh-eight. We’d been waiting since nine o’clock.
Finger-drumming recommenced on the tabletop. Ryan had been performing off and on for thirty minutes. The staccato beat was getting on my nerves.
“He’ll meet with us as soon as he can,” I said.
“Our coming here was his idea.”
“How do you lose a stiff in a morgue?”
“You heard Corcoran. They’ve got over two hundred bodies. The facility is overstretched.”
While I have been described as impatient, Lieutenant-détective Andrew Ryan, Section des crimes contre la personne, Sûreté du Québec, takes the term to a whole new plane. I knew the routine. Soon he’d be pacing.
Ryan and I were in a conference room at the Office of the Cook County Medical Examiner, on Chicago’s West Side. We’d flown from Montreal at the request of Christopher Corcoran, a staff pathologist with the CCME.
More than three years earlier, a fifty-nine-year-old woman named Rose Jurmain had taken a trip from Chicago to Quebec to view the fall foliage. On the fourth day of her visit she’d left her country inn for a walk and never returned. Her belongings remained behind in her room. No one saw or heard from her again.
Thirty months later remains were discovered in a forested area half a mile north of the inn. Decomposition was advanced and animal damage was extensive. I’d done the ID. Ryan had led the investigation. Now he and I were bringing Rose home.
Why the personal service? For me, friendship with Corcoran and an excuse to visit the old hometown. For Ryan? A free trip to the Windy City.
For Chris Corcoran and his boss? That would be one of my very first questions. Surely a CCME employee could have come to Montreal to collect the remains. Or a transport service. Until now the family had shown no interest in what was left of Rose Jurmain.
And why the request for our presence in Chicago nine months after resolution of the case? The Bureau du coroner had ruled Rose’s death an accident. Why the special interest now?
Despite my curiosity, so far there’d been no time for questions. Ryan and I had arrived to find media vans lining Harrison Street and the facility in lockdown.
While parking us in the conference room, Corcoran had provided a quick explanation. The previous day, a funeral home had attempted to collect a body for cremation. Inexplicably, the corpse was nowhere to be found.
All hands were engaged in crisis control. The chief was spinning for the press. A frantic search was under way. And Ryan and I were cooling our heels.
“I suppose the family is going ballistic,” Ryan said.
“Oooh, yeah. And the media is loving it. Lost bodies. Shocked loved ones. Embarrassed politico. It’s the stuff of Pulitzers.”
I’m a news junkie. At home I read, or at least skim, each day’s paper from front to back. On the road, I tune in to CNN or a local station. Earlier, in my hotel room, I’d flipped between WFLD and WGN. Though aware of the story, I’d not anticipated the resulting chaos. Or the impact on us.
Sure enough, Ryan got up and began pacing the room. I checked my pal Enterprise. Inspector Irritable was right on schedule.
After logging roughly thirty yards, Ryan dropped back into his chair.
“Who was Cook?”
I was lost.
“No idea,” I said.
“How big is it?”
“My aunt Dora’s fanny.”
“You have an aunt Dora?”
I stored that bit of familial trivia for future query.
“Cook is the second most populous county in the U.S., the nineteenth largest government in the nation.” I’d read those facts someplace.
“What’s the largest?”
“Do I look like an almanac?”
“Some almanacs contain census data.” Defensive. After the trip from Montreal, I was no longer in the mood for teasing.
Though generally cheerful, Ryan is not a good traveler, even when the aviation gods are smiling. Yesterday they’d been grumpy as hell.
Instead of two hours, our flight from Pierre-Elliot Trudeau International to O’Hare had taken six. First a weather delay. Then a mechanical complication. Then the crew went illegal for dancing naked on the tarmac. Or some such. Annoyed and frustrated, Ryan had passed the time nitpicking everything I said. His idea of jolly good banter.
Several moments passed.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Ryan was pushing to his feet when the door opened and Christopher Corcoran entered, dressed in lab coat, jeans, and sneakers. With his pale skin, green eyes, red hair, and freckles, Corcoran was a walking Irish cliché. And decidedly nervous.
“I’m really sorry for the delay. This missing body thing turned into an Italian opera.”
“I hate it when corpses go walkabout.” The old Ryan wit.
Corcoran gave a mirthless smile. “Especially when the decedent’s under your care.”
“It was your case?” I asked.
Corcoran nodded. As I looked at him, a million memories flooded my mind. A scrawny kid, all spindly limbs and wild carrot hair. Wrought-iron desks floor-bolted in long straight rows. Impromptu street games on hot summer nights. Interminable Masses on hard wooden pews.
As kids, Corcoran and I were back-fence neighbors in a South Side neighborhood called Beverly, and card-carrying members at St. Margaret’s of Scotland. Keep in mind that Chicago Catholics map people by parishes, not geography. An oddity, but there you have it.
When I was eight, my father and baby brother died, and my family relocated to North Carolina. Corcoran stayed put. We lost touch, of course. I grew up, attended the University of Illinois, then graduate school at Northwestern. He studied at Michigan, undergrad through med school, then completed specialty training in pathology. It was forensics that brought us back into contact.
Reconnection occurred in ’92 through a case involving a baby in a suitcase. By then Corcoran had married, returned to Chicago, and purchased a house on Longwood Drive. Though a little farther east and a lot upmarket, Corcoran had returned to the old spawning ground.
“Turns out it was here all along.” Corcoran’s voice brought me back. “The guy was so scrawny he got hidden behind an obese woman on an upper gurney shelf. The techs just missed him.”
“Happy ending,” Ryan said.
Corcoran snorted. “Tell that to Walczak.”
It was said of Stanley Walczak that only his ego surpassed his ambition in raw tonnage. His cunning was fierce too. Upon the resignation of the previous ME nine months earlier, having forged a complex web of political connections, to the surprise of few, and the dismay of many, Walczak had called in his chits and been appointed Cook County Medical Examiner.
“Walczak is pissed?” I asked.
“The man detests bad publicity. And inefficiency.” Corcoran sighed. “We handle roughly twenty pickups a day here. Between yesterday and this morning the staff had to phone over sixty funeral homes to see if a delivery had been made to the wrong place. Four techs and three investigators had to be pulled off their normal duties to help check toe tags. It took three sweeps to finally locate the guy. Hell, we’ve got half a cooler set aside just for long-term unknowns.”
“Mistakes happen.” I tried to sound encouraging.
“Here, misplacing a body is not considered a career-enhancing move.”
“You’re a fantastic pathologist. Walczak’s lucky to have you.”
“In his view, I should have been on top of the situation sooner.”
“You expect fallout?” Ryan asked.
“The family’s probably lawyer-shopping as we speak. Nothing like a few bucks to assuage unbearable anguish, even when there is no injury. It’s the American way.”
Corcoran circled the table and we all sat.
“Walczak says he won’t be long. He’s closeted with the Jurmain family lawyer. You’re gonna love him.”
“Perry Schechter’s a Chicago legend. I once heard him interviewed. Explained his style as confrontational. Said being abrasive knocks people off their stride, causes them to reveal flaws.”
“Character flaws? Testimonial flaws?”
“Beats me. All I know is the guy’s a pit bull.”
I looked at Ryan. He shrugged. Whatever.
“Before they arrive,” I said. “Why are we here?”
Again, the mirthless smile. “Ever eat a Moo-Moo Bar or a Cluck-Cluck Pie?”
When Harry and I were kids, Mama had packed dozens of the little pastries into our lunches. Though uncertain of the relevance, I nodded recognition.
Ryan looked lost.
“Think Vachon,” I translated into Québécois. “Jos. Louis. May West. Doigts de Dame.”
“Snack cakes,” he said.
“Thirteen varieties,” Corcoran said. “Baked and sold by Smiling J Foods for two generations.”
“Are they still available?” I couldn’t remember seeing the little goodies in years.
Corcoran nodded. “Under new names.”
“Quite a slap in the face to our barnyard friends.”
Corcoran almost managed a genuine grin. “The J in Smiling J stood for Jurmain. The family sold out to a conglomerate in 1972. For twenty-one million dollars. Not that they needed the cash. They were bucks-up already.”
I began to get the picture.
So did Ryan.
“Family fortune spells political clout,” I said.
“Thus the kid gloves.”
“I don’t get it. The case was closed over nine months ago. The Jurmain family got a full report but never responded. Though the coroner sent registered letters, until now no one has shown any interest in claiming the remains.”
“I’ll do my best to summarize a long but hardly original story.”
Corcoran looked to the ceiling, as though organizing his thoughts. Then he began.
“The Jurmain family is blue-blood Chicago. Not ancient, but old enough money. Home in East Winnetka. Indian Hills Country Club. First-name basis with the governor, senators, congressmen. North Shore Country Day, then Ivy League schools for the kids. Get the picture?”
Ryan and I indicated understanding.
“Rose’s father is the current patriarch, a sorry old bastard named Edward Allen. Not Ed. Not Al. Not E. A. Edward Allen. Rose was a black sheep, throughout her life refusing to follow any course Edward Allen deemed suitable. In 1968, instead of making her debut, she made the Tribune for assaulting a cop at the Democratic National Convention. Instead of enrolling at Smith or Vassar, she went off to Hollywood to become a star. Instead of marrying, she chose a lesbian lifestyle.
“When Rose turned thirty, Edward Allen pulled the plug. Deleted her from his will and forbade the family to have any contact.”
“Until she saw the light,” I guessed.
“Exactly. But that wasn’t Rose’s style. Thumbing her nose at Daddy, she chose to live on a small trust fund provided by Grandpa. Money Edward Allen was unable to touch.”
“A real free spirit,” I said.
“Yes. But things weren’t all sunshine and poppies. According to her partner, Janice Spitz, at the time of her disappearance, Rose was depressed and suffering from chronic insomnia. She was also drinking a lot.”
“That clicks with what we learned,” Ryan said.
“Did Spitz think she was suicidal?” I asked.
“If so, she never said.”
“So what gives?” I asked. “Why the sudden interest?”
“Two weeks ago, Edward Allen received an anonymous call at his home.”
Corcoran was always a blusher, did so often and deeply when embarrassed or anxious. He did so now.
“Concerning Rose’s death?” I asked.
Corcoran nodded, avoiding my eyes. I felt the first stirrings of uneasiness.
“What did this anonymous tipster say?”
“Walczak didn’t share that information with me. All I know is I was tasked with overseeing a review of the case from this end.”
“Tabarnouche.” Ryan slumped back in disgust.
I could think of nothing to say.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Corcoran broke the silence.
“Edward Allen is now eighty-one years old and in failing health. Perhaps he feels like a schmuck for having driven Rose from his life. Perhaps he’s still the same controlling sonovabitch he always was. Perhaps he’s nuts. What I do know is that Jurmain called his lawyer. The lawyer called Walczak. And here we are.”
“Jurmain thinks the case was mishandled?” I asked.
Corcoran nodded, gaze locked on the tabletop.
“Walczak shares that belief?”
“Mishandled by whom?” It came out sharper than I meant.
Corcoran’s eyes came up and met mine. In them I saw genuine distress.
“Look, Tempe, this is not my doing.”
I took a calming breath. Repeated my question.
“Mishandled by whom, Chris?”
Meet the Author
Kathy Reichs is the author of more than twenty New York Times bestselling novels featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, including her most recent The Bone Collection. Like her protagonist, Reichs is a forensic anthropologist—one of fewer than one hundred ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. A professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she is a former vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and serves on the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. Reichs’s own life, as much as her novels, is the basis for the TV show Bones, one of the longest-running series in the history of the FOX network.
Linda Emond's film credits include Stop Loss, North Country, and Across the Universe. Television credits include The Sopranos, all four Law & Orders, and American Experience: John & Abigail Adams. On Broadway she has performed in 1776 and Life x 3 (Tony nomination & Outer Critics Circle Award) and Off-Broadway in Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul (Obie & Lucille Lortel Awards).
- Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Québec
- Place of Birth:
- Chicago, Illinois
- B.A., American University, 1971; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is the 12th book in the series. Temperence Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who divides her time between Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In this book she is also in Chicago partly for business and also for a holiday visit with her Latvian ex-inlaws. The book opens with Tempe bound, injured and confined in a small underground space and the story is told in flashbacks. This book is both engrossing and entertaining and is better than her last two books. That being said, my only complaint would be the blindingly obvious suspect that went unnoticed until the end and tangents that serve only to slow down the reader and show off the author's researching and/or trivia skills. Also, the very, very end devolves into what feels like a self-serving (although probably justifiable) tirade about qualifications to be a forensic anthropologist. While she may have a point, it was about a subtle as an anvil to the forehead and brought the book to a screeching halt. Granted, it was the last page so halting is to be expected, but the tone just didn't fit in with the overall book. You decide. I was okay with it.
Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan is confused as to how she got where she is. Somehow, Brennan is badly injured and tied securely in what appears to be an underground tomb. As she regains her senses, slowly flashes of what happened to her begin to appear in her mind. Based on an anonymous tip to authorities, Brennan arrived in Chicago with Andrew Ryan of the Serete du Quebec where she is being accused of erring in her autopsy of Canadian heiress Rose Jurmain. Meanwhile back in her Montreal lab, Brennan links Jurmain's death to the brutal murders of other elderly women by a particularly nasty serial killer. As she explores her premise further, she is just beginning to understand she is a trapped rodent in a deadly cat and mouse game. This is a super thriller that contains several strong subplots; especially intriguing is the challenge to the heroine's competency from an unknown source who seems to know forensics. Much more personal than usual, the courageous Dr. Brennan feels like a hunted animal who though wounded goes after her predator. Kathy Reichs provides a strong entry in one of the better mystery series of recent years. Harriet Klausner
This was a very exciting book and I read it very quickly, BUT I was gripping my chair when Bones found herself in the coffin. I should ask Kathy to pitch in to by me another dental appliance, as I ground my teeth to the nubs waiting for her ever Knight in Shining Armor to ride in on a white steed and save her. Kathy's writing is perfect for such a show as BONES and I am now watching all of the reruns. I never miss the TV show, BONES, and I will definitely buy any coming books written by this very talented author
206 Bones is a little different than the other books in this series, because it runs two parallel stories. The first has Tempe trapped, hurt, and confused - not knowing where she is or how she got there, but understanding she is in real trouble. The second tells us the back story of the case that led to her current situation. Both are terrific and when they come together? Powerful! As much as I enjoyed the complex story line, clever plot, and always intriguing personality Tempe displays, I couldn't wait to get this book to find out what happens next to Tempe and Andrew Ryan. Fans of the series will enjoy the format and the puzzles that abound in this book.
Interesting, informative and exciting read! I love the Temperance Brennan character! I learned a lot reading this book. Thoroughly enjoyed it! A few others I thoroughly enjoyed, but were totally different, except you learn wonderful, feel good lessons in life that when you come away from them you kind of glow!......SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by Linda Pirrung, and THE HELP, by K. Stockett....
Has Dr. Brennan lost her edge? She can't concentrate, has trouble relating to her staff. Have the years taken a toll? She has over looked evidence at a crime scene. She misses clues left on teeth. Items that a newly hired less exprianced pathologest easily finds. What is happeneing is telgraphed to the astute reader before Brennan finally figures it out, but this does not take away from enjoying this book. Kathy Richs once again takes us into the lab and the area of forensic pathology and teaches us that there is a lot to learn from a bunch of bones.
The story 206 Bones begins with Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan waking up in a cold, dark, and confined space. She realizes that her arms and legs are bound and that she is badly injured. Once she regains her composure, she sorts out the events that put her in this situation. She recently discovered the remains of Canadian heiress Rose Jurmain and linked her death to the brutal murders of a serial killer. However, based on a tip to the authorities she is accused of mishandling the autopsy. With more murders lining up in Montreal, it seems almost as Brennan is being framed. The plot and charracters in this book are very practical and it is a great read.
206 Bones is a thriller, a mystery, a medical lesson, a geography lesson, a history lesson, and contains all the enjoyment that comes with the Temperance Brennan character in Kathy Reichs series of books. While the story is probably mostly fiction the locations and medical parts are undoubtedly not fictionalized. Temperance give 206 Bones her normal humor and romantic twists with the reader never sure where her mind is all the time but definitely mostly on her work as a forensic anthropologist. 206 Bones begins with Tempe aware that she is in a dark, tight, dirty, moldy, and musty place surrounded with dirt. She has no memory of how she got there or where she is but she knows she must get out of this godforsaken tomb! The story then shifts to before her entombment and gets the reader up to what she is working on. Tempe's very close "friend" is Lieutenant detective Andrew Ryan who is on the police force in Quebec, Canada. With Tempe's knowledge of forensics and the crimes involved, she and Ryan work together quite a bit, in this case traveling to Chicago. In her position, Tempe works for Montreal and teaches in North Carolina. During the story she travels around between parts of Canada, Chicago, and North Carolina. The story shifts occasionally back to Tempe trying to get out of this tomb. Several bodies have turned up, several of which had been discovered after many years missing and the forensics can get very tough with bones this old. Tempe has troubles with things going wrong in the morgue/laboratory along with threats she seems to have received from someone. She has no idea if that someone was a fellow employee or an outsider that might be connected with one of the new found murders. The story is very interesting and mysterious and a great read. The only trouble I occasionally had were some of the many technical names for many things connected with her work and locations in Canada but these would generally explain themselves to the reader as time goes on. Tempe is a great character, as those of us that watch the television series "Bones" know. You never know what she will say or do, or what she will come up with to get a case on track-or not! Kathy, I love your vocation and your way of thinking. I have read quite a few of your books and have never been disappointed from beginning to end. I also enjoy your personal input that you use to let us readers know what you are all about in your life.
Yet another wonderful addition to the Temperance Brennan Series. I am looking forward to the next.
This is a great book to join the others in the series. The characters are well rounded and the plote is one that makes you keep reading. This is a book that is hard to put down.
The writing is enjoyable and found it very informative from a medical standpoint. Well worth reading especially since most people in our society today don't seem to know anything about biology and the human body.
Ms. Reich's previous books were page turners from the beginning and this latest book is no exception.
Excellent always enjoy the Bones series and look forward to the next one
I returned to reading Kathy Reich/Temperance Brennen after a couple book break and have to say I really loved 206 Bones. The balance of science, investigation, thriller and the humanistic side of the characters captivated me and was really well done. The mystery was unique and the vulnerability of the 2 main characters made this a favorite for me in this series. Guess the break was for the better as I look forward to next installment.
Between the writing style, plot twists, and the great scientific explanations, Reichs has created another hit. Can't wait for the next Temperance Brennan adventure.
In a real departure for this series, this book is a snoozer. While there is mystery and there is suspense, there is also an over-abundance of technical jargon, micro-detailed medicalese, irrelevant geographic and historical dialogue, long drawn-out discussions in French, and painfully slow, horribly exhaustive and descriptive soliloquies. The plot is disjointed, bouncing from Tempe's personal problems to her professional concerns, to a nasty neighbor, to a series of suspicious deaths, to her relationship with her ex in-laws, to her waking up battered and dazed in a burial vault. Even the descriptions of various characters are verbose to the point of no point, and we get to share numerous nasty moods and bouts of griping and moaning, both mental and verbal, of Tempe's as the book moves along. And those don't even include the mental calisthenics and freaking out that she does when she realizes she's buried alive. Little real excitement, as every situation is dissected and talked to death before it has a chance to play out in some more interesting manner.
Love the suspense and the subject matter...Kept me turning pages long after I shoud have been asleep...but, that's okay! That's what I love!! Another spectacular find...EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by LINDA MASEMORE PIRRUNG...Oh! Yes! I want a sequel!! I loved it so much I can't get it out of my head!! Check out the reviews! They hooked me big time!!
not the best in the series, but still a good book
This is a good book. The last few in the series were ok. This one brings back the suspense and intrigue that was there in the beginning of the series. This book also does not have Tempe traveling back and forth from the U.S. to Montreal that much. It was a very enjoyable read.
Without fail, This author knows how to write a good book! The complex plots are well-crafted and not a word appears to be wasted. I love the characters in these books and the interaction between them. The cover of this book notes its link to the Fox TV Series BONES . . . I wish that you wouldn't say this on the book covers as it detracts from the book; the series BONES is so "lightweight" compared to the sophistication of the Kathy Reichs books. I am eagerly awaiting Kathy Reichs' next offering on the life of Dr. Brennan.
I'm a fan of Kathy Reichs but this one was a slog to get through. I like to learn a bit when I read but not looking for a full blown education in pathology. Story was a bit weak also. Maybe given up to background information?
A great listen to for fans of the show Bones.
I HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK AT ALL