Bare Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #6)

( 163 )

Overview

"Fans of TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation should be in heaven" (People) stepping into the world of forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan, star of Kathy Reichs' electrifyingly authentic bestsellers.

She works with the dead, but she works for the living.

"Down time" is not a phrase in Tempe Brennan's vocabulary. A string of disturbing cases has put her vacation plans on hold; instead, she heads to the lab to analyze charred remains from a suspicious fire, and a ...

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Bare Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #6)

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Overview

"Fans of TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation should be in heaven" (People) stepping into the world of forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan, star of Kathy Reichs' electrifyingly authentic bestsellers.

She works with the dead, but she works for the living.

"Down time" is not a phrase in Tempe Brennan's vocabulary. A string of disturbing cases has put her vacation plans on hold; instead, she heads to the lab to analyze charred remains from a suspicious fire, and a mysterious black residue from a small plane crash. But most troubling of all are the bones. . . . Tempe's daughter's new boyfriend invites them to a picnic — a pig pickin' — in the North Carolina countryside, where a cache of bones turns up. But are they animal or human? X-rays and DNA may link the crimes, but they can't reveal who is closing in on Tempe and her daughter — and how far they will go to keep her from uncovering the truth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fascinating." — The New York Times

"Right up there with Patricia Cornwell's early Kay Scarpetta mysteries." — Booklist

The New York Times
… the science is fascinating, and every minute in the morgue with Tempe is golden. — Marilyn Stasio
Sunday Tribune
Scalpel-sharp....Suspense-filled.
Publishers Weekly
Feisty forensic anthropologist Temperance (Tempe) Brennan is supposed to be on vacation, but body parts keep turning up. At the start of her sixth adventure, she's awaiting the arrival of her current flame, Quebecois sleuth Andrew Ryan, so she can head for the beach near her hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Before he shows up, she's called in to use her world-class forensics skills when a local janitor's infant granddaughter is found dead and charred in an oven. Then some strange, decomposing remains (" `Human?' `I'm not sure' ") are discovered by Brennan's dog during a barbecue at a local lakeside resort. Ryan finally arrives, but Brennan's vacation is indefinitely put on hold when a small plane crashes nearby. Two people are dead, and her expertise is required yet again ("The skull had suffered massive communitive fracturing on impact. The fire had done the rest"). Brennan eventually realizes that all three cases are linked to a drug-smuggling ring that also dabbles in poaching exotic animals. As she pursues her investigations, she is forced to work with "Skinny" Slidell, a redneck cop who rubs her the wrong way, but tension is defused by the presence of Ryan, who gamely gives up his vacation to pitch in. He matches Brennan quip for quip, and Tempe's dog, Boyd, provides extra comic relief. Reichs has built a reputation on cut-to-the-chase writing and swift plotting, and this latest effort delivers everything her fans have come to expect. (July 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
At last, Reichs fans who have waited patiently for the next entry in her Tempe Brennan series will be rewarded. In this sixth novel (following Grave Secrets) Tempe has returned home from Guatemala and is finally preparing for the romantic vacation that never was with Canadian cutie Andrew Ryan when a baby is found incinerated in a wood stove, two victims of a plane crash are burned to an unidentifiable crisp, and a pile of bones dug up by Tempe's dog is discovered to include portions of a human hand. With the trip put on hold, Tempe and Ryan sort through the evidence that draws them closer to solving the crimes. Like Brennan, Reichs is a forensic anthropologist practicing both in North Carolina and Quebec. Her intimate knowledge of forensics and crime scene investigations makes for an honest rendition of a thrilling tale. Though often compared to Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta, Tempe Brennan stands alone above other characters in the genre. Highly recommended for all popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/03.]-Nanci Milone Hill, Lucius Beebe Memorial Lib., Wakefield, MA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Returning from Guatemala (Grave Secrets, 2002) to home turf in North Carolina, globetrotting forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan juggles three cases that will require analyzing a lot more than bare bones. The first case is the most straightforward and heart-rending: the search for Tamela Banks, daughter of a retired colleague at UNC-Charlotte, who left behind a woodstove stoked with the bones of her newborn infant. Eager to escape the depression such discoveries bring on, Tempe accompanies her daughter Katy to a barbecue that's interrupted by a bizarre second discovery-the decapitated remains of six bears neatly buried in a pair of plastic bags-and news of a third that provokes even fewer tears: a mountainside plane crash whose two corpses have to share attention with some neatly packaged cocaine found in the woods nearby, some mysterious black powder on the underside of their ruined Cessna, and the occasional feather from an exotic bird. Though all three investigations, which a closing note broadly suggests are based on real-life cases, have their moments, hard-working Reichs overreaches herself when she insists on linking them all, together with the disappearance five years ago of a pair of Federal Wildlife Service officers. The results are fascinating, grueling, and ultimately exhausting. Solid, overplotted work from an author so determined to emerge from Patricia Cornwell's long shadow that she's willing to try every trick in the coroner's book. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh/William Morris
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743453004
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Series: Temperance Brennan Series , #6
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 137,974
  • Product dimensions: 6.82 (w) x 4.10 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs, like her character Temperance Brennan, is a forensic anthropologist, formerly for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and currently for the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale for the province of Quebec. Reichs’s first book, Déjà Dead, catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her latest Temperance Brennan novel, Bones Are Forever, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Her website is KathyReichs.com.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Kathleen J. Reichs (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Québec
    1. Education:
      B.A., American University, 1971; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

As I was packaging what remained of the dead baby, the man I would kill was burning pavement north toward Charlotte.

I didn't know that at the time. I'd never heard the man's name, knew nothing of the grisly game in which he was a player.

At that moment I was focused on what I would say to Gideon Banks. How would I break the news that his grandchild was dead, his youngest daughter on the run?

My brain cells had been bickering all morning. You're a forensic anthropologist, the logic guys would say. Visiting the family is not your responsibility. The medical examiner will report your findings. The homicide detective will deliver the news. A phone call.

All valid points, the conscience guys would counter. But this case is different. You know Gideon Banks.

I felt a deep sadness as I tucked the tiny bundle of bones into its container, fastened the lid, and wrote a file number across the plastic. So little to examine. Such a short life.

As I secured the tub in an evidence locker, the memory cells floated an image of Gideon Banks. Wrinkled brown face, fuzzy gray hair, voice like ripping duct tape.

Expand the image.

A small man in a plaid flannel shirt arcing a string mop across a tile floor.

The memory cells had been offering the same image all morning. Though I'd tried to conjure up others, this one kept reappearing.

Gideon Banks and I had worked together at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for almost two decades until his retirement three years back. I'd periodically thanked him for keeping my office and lab clean, given him birthday cards and a small gift each Christmas. I knew he was conscientious, polite, deeply religious, and devoted to his kids.

And he kept the corridors spotless.

That was it. Beyond the workplace, our lives did not connect.

Until Tamela Banks placed her newborn in a woodstove and vanished.

Crossing to my office, I booted up my laptop and spread my notes across the desktop. I'd barely begun my report when a form filled the open doorway.

"A home visit really is above and beyond."

I hit "save" and looked up.

The Mecklenburg County medical examiner was wearing green surgical scrubs. A stain on his right shoulder mimicked the shape of Massachusetts in dull red.

"I don't mind." Like I didn't mind suppurating boils on my buttocks.

"I'll be glad to speak to him."

Tim Larabee might have been handsome were it not for his addiction to running. The daily marathon training had wizened his body, thinned his hair, and leatherized his face. The perpetual tan seemed to gather in the hollows of his cheeks, and to pool around eyes set way too deep. Eyes that were now crimped with concern.

"Next to God and the Baptist church, family has been the cornerstone of Gideon Banks's life," I said. "This will shake him."

"Perhaps it's not as bad as it seems."

I gave Larabee the Look. We'd had this conversation an hour earlier.

"All right." He raised a sinewy hand. "It seems bad. I'm sure Mr. Banks will appreciate the personal input. Who's driving you?"

"Skinny Slidell."

"Your lucky day."

"I wanted to go alone, but Slidell refused to take no for an answer."

"Not Skinny?" Mock surprise.

"I think Skinny's hoping for some kind of lifetime achievement award."

"I think Skinny's hoping to get laid."

I pegged a pen at him. He batted it down.

"Watch yourself."

Larabee withdrew. I heard the autopsy room door click open, then shut.

I checked my watch. Three forty-two. Slidell would be here in twenty minutes. The brain cells did a collective cringe. On Skinny there was cerebral agreement.

I shut the computer down and leaned back in my chair.

What would I say to Gideon Banks?

Bad luck, Mr. Banks. Looks like your youngest gave birth, wrapped the tyke in a blanket, and used him as kindling.

Good, Brennan.

Wham-o! The visual cells sent up a new mental image. Banks pulling a Kodak print from a cracked leather wallet. Six brown faces. Close haircuts for the boys, pigtails for the girls. All with teeth too big for the smiles.

Zoom out.

The old man beaming over the photo, adamant that each child would go to college.

Did they?

No idea.

I slipped off my lab coat and hung it on the hook behind my door.

If the Banks kids had attended UNC-Charlotte while I was on the faculty, they'd shown little interest in anthropology. I'd met only one. Reggie, a son midrange in the offspring chronology, had taken my human evolution course.

The memory cells offered a gangly kid in a baseball cap, brim low over razor-blade brows. Last row in the lecture hall. A intellect, C+ effort.

How long ago? Fifteen years? Eighteen?

I'd worked with a lot of students back then. In those days my research focused on the ancient dead, and I'd taught several undergraduate classes. Bioarchaeology. Osteology. Primate ecology.

One morning an anthro grad showed up at my lab. A homicide detective with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD, she'd brought bones recovered from a shallow grave. Could her former prof determine if the remains were those of a missing child?

I could. They were.

That case was my first encounter with coroner work. Today the only seminar I teach is in forensic anthropology, and I commute between Charlotte and Montreal serving as forensic anthropologist to each jurisdiction.

The geography had been difficult when I'd taught full-time, requiring complex choreography within the academic calendar. Now, save for the duration of that single seminar, I shift as needed. A few weeks north, a few weeks south, longer when casework or court testimony requires.

North Carolina and Quebec? Long story.

My academic colleagues call what I do "applied." Using my knowledge of bones, I tease details from cadavers and skeletons, or parts thereof, too compromised for autopsy. I give names to the skeletal, the decomposed, the mummified, the burned, and the mutilated, who might otherwise go to anonymous graves. For some, I determine the manner and time of their passing.

With Tamela's baby there'd been but a cup of charred fragments. A newborn is chump change to a woodstove.

Mr. Banks, I'm so sorry to have to tell you, but —

My cell phone sounded.

"Yo, Doc. I'm parked out front." Skinny Slidell. Of the twenty-four detectives in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD Felony Investigative Bureau/Homicide Unit, perhaps my least favorite.

"Be right there."

I'd been in Charlotte several weeks when an informant's tip led to the shocking discovery in the woodstove. The bones had come to me. Slidell and his partner had caught the case as a homicide. They'd tossed the scene, tracked down witnesses, taken statements. Everything led to Tamela Banks.

I shouldered my purse and laptop and headed out. In passing, I stuck my head into the autopsy room. Larabee looked up from his gunshot victim and waggled a gloved finger in warning.

My reply was an exaggerated eye roll.

The Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner facility occupies one end of a featureless brick shoebox that entered life as a Sears Garden Center. The other end of the shoebox houses satellite offices of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Devoid of architectural charm save a slight rounding of the edges, the building is surrounded by enough asphalt to pave Rhode Island.

As I exited the double glass doors, my nostrils drank in an olfactory cocktail of exhaust, smog, and hot pavement. Heat radiated from the building walls, and from the brick steps connecting it to a small tentacle of the parking lot.

Hot town. Summer in the city.

A black woman sat in the vacant lot across College Street, back to a sycamore, elephant legs stretched full length on the grass. The woman was fanning herself with a newspaper, animatedly arguing some point with a nonexistent adversary.

A man in a Hornets jersey was muscling a shopping cart up the sidewalk in the direction of the county services building. He stopped just past the woman, wiped his forehead with the crook of his arm, and checked his cargo of plastic bags.

Noticing my gaze, the cart man waved. I waved back.

Slidell's Ford Taurus idled at the bottom of the stairs, AC blasting, tinted windows full up. Descending, I opened the back door, shoved aside file folders, a pair of golf shoes stuffed with audiotapes, two Burger King bags, and a squeeze tube of suntan lotion, and wedged my computer into the newly created space.

Erskine "Skinny" Slidell undoubtedly thought of himself as "old school," though God alone knew what institution would claim him. With his knockoff Ray-Bans, Camel breath, and four-letter speech, Slidell was an unwittingly self-created caricature of a Hollywood cop. People told me he was good at his job. I found it hard to believe.

At the moment of my approach Dirty Harry was checking his lower incisors in the rearview mirror, lips curled back in a monkey-fear grimace.

Hearing the rear door open, Slidell jumped, and his hand shot to the mirror. As I slid into the passenger seat, he was fine-tuning the rearview with the diligence of an astronaut adjusting Hubble.

"Doc." Slidell kept his faux Ray-Bans pointed at the mirror.

"Detective." I nodded, placed my purse at my feet, and closed the door.

At last satisfied with the angle of reflection, Slidell abandoned the mirror, shifted into gear, crossed the lot, and shot across College onto Phifer.

We rode in silence. Though the temperature in the car was thirty degrees lower than that outside, the air was thick with its own blend of odors. Old Whoppers and fries. Sweat. Bain de Soleil. The bamboo mat on which Slidell parked his ample backside.

Skinny Slidell himself. The man smelled and looked like an "after" shot for an antismoking poster. During the decade and a half I'd been consulting for the Mecklenburg County ME, I'd had the pleasure of working with Slidell on several occasions. Each had been a trip to Aggravation Row. This case promised to be another.

The Bankses' home was in the Cherry neighborhood, just southeast of I-277, Charlotte's version of an inner beltway. Cherry, unlike many inner-city quartiers, had not enjoyed the renaissance experienced in recent years by Dilworth and Elizabeth to the west and north. While those neighborhoods had integrated and yuppified, Cherry's fortunes had headed south. But the community held true to its ethnic roots. It started out black and remained so today.

Within minutes Slidell passed an Autobell car wash, turned left off Independence Boulevard onto a narrow street, then right onto another. Oaks and magnolias thirty, forty, a hundred years old threw shadows onto modest frame and brick houses. Laundry hung limp on clotheslines. Sprinklers ticked and whirred, or lay silent at the ends of garden hoses. Bicycles and Big Wheels dotted yards and walkways.

Slidell pulled to the curb halfway up the block, and jabbed a thumb at a small bungalow with dormer windows jutting from the roof. The siding was brown, the trim white.

"Beats the hell outta that rat's nest where the kid got fried. Thought I'd catch scabies tossing that dump."

"Scabies is caused by mites." My voice was chillier than the car interior.

"Exactly. You wouldn't have believed that shithole."

"You should have worn gloves."

"You got that right. And a respirator. These people — "

"What people would that be, Detective?"

"Some folks live like pigs."

"Gideon Banks is a hardworking, decent man who raised six children largely on his own."

"Wife beat feet?"

"Melba Banks died of breast cancer ten years ago." There. I did know something about my coworker.

"Bum luck."

The radio crackled some message that was lost on me.

"Still don't excuse kids dropping their shorts with no regard for consequences. Get jammed up? No-o-o-o problem. Have an abortion."

Slidell killed the engine and turned the Ray-Bans on me.

"Or worse."

"There may be some explanation for Tamela Banks's actions."

I didn't really believe that, had spent all morning taking the opposite position with Tim Larabee. But Slidell was so irritating I found myself playing devil's advocate.

"Right. And the chamber of commerce will probably name her mother of the year."

"Have you met Tamela?" I asked, forcing my voice level.

"No. Have you?"

No. I ignored Slidell's question.

0 "Have you met any of the Banks family?"

"No, but I took statements from folks who were snorting lines in the next room while Tamela incinerated her kid." Slidell pocketed the keys. "Excusez-moi if I haven't dropped in for tea with the lady and her relations."

"You've never had to deal with any of the Banks kids because they were raised with good, solid values. Gideon Banks is as straitlaced as — "

"The mutt Tamela's screwing ain't close to straight up."

"The baby's father?"

"Unless Miss Hot Pants was entertaining while Daddy was dealing."

Easy! The man is a cockroach.

"Who is he?"

"His name is Darryl Tyree. Tamela was shacking up in Tyree's little piece of heaven out on South Tryon."

"Tyree sells drugs?"

"And we're not talking the Eckerd's pharmacy." Slidell hit the door handle and got out.

I bit back a response. One hour. It's over.

A stab of guilt. Over for me, but what about Gideon Banks? What about Tamela and her dead baby?

I joined Slidell on the sidewalk.

"Je-zus. It's hot enough to burn a polar bear's butt."

"It's August."

"I should be at the beach."

Yes, I thought. Under four tons of sand.

I followed Slidell up a narrow walk littered with fresh-mown grass to a small cement stoop. He pressed a thumb to a rusted button beside the front door, dug a hanky from his back pocket, and wiped his face.

No response.

Slidell knocked on a wooden portion of the screen door.

Nothing.

Slidell knocked again. His forehead glistened and his hair was separating into wet clumps.

"Police, Mr. Banks."

Slidell banged with the heel of his hand. The screen door rattled in its frame.

"Gideon Banks!"

Condensation dripped from a window AC to the left of the door. A lawn mower whined in the distance. Hip-hop drifted from somewhere up the block.

Slidell banged again. A dark crescent winked from his gray polyester armpit.

"Anyone home?"

The AC's compressor kicked on. A dog barked.

Slidell yanked the screen.

Whrrrrp!

Pounded on the wooden door.

Bam! Bam! Bam!

Released the screen. Barked his demand.

"Police! Anyone there?"

Across the street, a curtain flicked, dropped back into place.

Had I imagined it?

A drop of perspiration rolled down my back to join the others soaking my bra and waistband.

At that moment my cell phone rang.

I answered.

That call swept me into a vortex of events that ultimately led to my taking a life.

Copyright © 2003 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 163 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(69)

4 Star

(64)

3 Star

(24)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 164 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Review for Bare Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #6)- Kathy Reichs

    This book was very good from start to finish and had an amazing plot. I would definately read this books again and I reccommend it to those people who are fans of murder and mystery and even those CSi TV shows.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2006

    Complex but interesting and fast-paced

    Illegal wildlife trade, romance, and many suspicious deaths make for a complex but interesting plot. I always appreciate the authenticity and complexity of Reichs' characters. Bare Bones continues the trend. Bare Bones evidences Reichs' expertise in forensic anthropology, and an impressive level of research into the illegal wildlife market. It's not your average murder mystery. Bare Bones also demonstrates Reichs' excellent ability to craft dialogue, her sense of humor, and a compelling romance. An excellent read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    Have always enjoyed the tv show, Bones, and decided to read the

    Have always enjoyed the tv show, Bones, and decided to read the series. Other than the profession and lead character's name, they are really two completely different worlds. I love the world I've been drawn into in Kathy Reich's Tempe Brennan series. The stories are involved and well written, keeping you interested from beginning to end. In addition, I love the glimpses into life in both Charlotte and Montreal - well drawn descriptions of both cities.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    DUUDE!

    This book was interesting! But REALLY like cute. She obviously LOVES Ryan. I love how Boyd (Hooch) is almost like the hero in here. He seems like a loyal and great dog. I absolutley thought this book was amazing! But at atleast 1 point I got a tad confused, but that happens to me alot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Love me some Ryan

    These books are so good that it hurts.

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  • Posted January 5, 2014

    put on must read list

    The more books in series I read the more I love Kathy Reichs.

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  • Posted April 23, 2013

    It's good. Not the best of the series but not the worst. 

    It's good. Not the best of the series but not the worst. 

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  • Posted March 19, 2013

    Great sequel!

    I'm really enjoying the Temperance Brennan series. I am thoroughly enjoying the story line and reoccuring characters and can't wait to get to the end so I can buy the next book. Keep them coming!

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  • Posted December 27, 2012

    if you watch "Bones" you'll enjoy these!

    I simply cannot resist the actual forensic information Dr. Reichs shares with us in the Temperance Brennan novels. This one features a plane crash, and some issues with unknown bones. If you like mysteries or fictional stories that read like real-life, you'll want to investigate these!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Great

    I would recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    Good one

    Another good book in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Was every bit as good as I expected.

    I really enjoy kathy Reich's style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Always keeps you going. Unusual sequence Love it! Have read other books by this author and enjoyed them I would say her books are for those who like something unusual. Gripping tales!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2011

    Just as good as the other ones!

    Moderately dynamic, its not a one night read, but it is quite entertaining.

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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Less than expected

    As an avid reader, and a huge fan of the television drama, Bones, I was anxcious to start reading the book series. It was just a little bit disappointing. None of the charactors fron the T.V. show are in the book, accept for Temperance Brennan, and she is totally different than her show version. She has a grown daughter, and works out of Canada, not the Smithonian. Theren is no "Booth",or any of her series co-workers. I purchased three different books, and I'm not too sure I'll order more. I gave it three stars, because the story was not bad, bjut not Bones either.

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  • Posted August 21, 2011

    If you like Fox's 'Bones', you'll love the original Temperance Brennan!

    I recommend starting with Deja Dead and reading right on through! You won't regret it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2011

    Great book!

    This was the first book i have read about her and i was hooked from the first to the last page of this book two thumbs up hope to read more of her books

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    Another great Bones read

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2007

    great book and show

    i love this book. i read almost most all brennan novels than i found out that there's a shwo based on the books. It's called BONES and it's great. it's on fox and if you love teh books you should watch the show. Note: the seson finale was last week.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2005

    Too much information

    There was really just too much going on in this story. It was an exhausting read. Ornithology, forensics, drug smuggling details, bear poaching details, headless bodies, ancestral traits, a suicidal teen and a dead baby. And are all of the Black people in the Carolinas fat? I'm sure they're not, but you wouldn't know it from this book.

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