Bones of the Lost (Temperance Brennan Series #16)

Bones of the Lost (Temperance Brennan Series #16)

4.1 74
by Kathy Reichs

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her sixteenth riveting novel featuring forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, whose examination of a young girl killed in a hit and run in North Carolina triggers an investigation into international human trafficking.

When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her sixteenth riveting novel featuring forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, whose examination of a young girl killed in a hit and run in North Carolina triggers an investigation into international human trafficking.

When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a desolate stretch of two-lane highway, Temperance Brennan fears the worst. The girl’s body shows signs of foul play. Inside her purse police find the ID card of a prominent local businessman, John-Henry Story, who died in a horrific flea market fire months earlier. Was the girl an illegal immigrant turning tricks? Was she murdered?

The medical examiner has also asked Tempe to examine a bundle of Peruvian dog mummies confiscated by U.S. Customs. A Desert Storm veteran named Dominick Rockett stands accused of smuggling the objects into the country. Could there be some connection between the trafficking of antiquities—and the trafficking of humans?

As the case deepens, Tempe must also grapple with personal turmoil. Her daughter Katy, grieving the death of her boyfriend in Afghanistan, impulsively enlists in the Army. Meanwhile, Katy’s father Pete is frustrated by Tempe’s reluctance to finalize their divorce. As pressure mounts from all corners, Tempe soon finds herself at the center of a conspiracy that extends all the way from South America, to Afghanistan, and right to the center of Charlotte. “A genius at building suspense” (Daily News, New York), Kathy Reichs is at her brilliant best in this thrilling novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Reichs draws on her experiences touring with the USO in Afghanistan for her captivating 16th novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (after 2012’s Bones Are Forever). At home in Charlotte, N.C., the bone expert concludes that the death of an unidentified girl, 14 or 15 years old, was caused by foul play rather than a hit-and-run, as was previously suspected. The outraged Brennan urges homicide detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell to investigate, knowing Slidell believes the girl to have been an undocumented immigrant, as well as possibly being a junkie and prostitute. Later in Afghanistan, Brennan oversees the exhumation of two unarmed Afghan villagers killed by a U.S. Marine to determine whether the victims were shot in the back or head-on. The two cases—and a third involving mummified dogs from Peru—give Reichs ample opportunity to provide detailed descriptions of forensic examinations, but it’s Brennan’s passionate and personal involvement that provides the excitement in this masterful tale. 6-city author tour. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, William Morris Endeavor. (Aug.)
"The forensic procedures take center stage, as they always do, in this cleverly plotted and expertly maintained series."

"Reichs always delivers a pulse-pounding story."

Associated Press Staff
“Reichs knows what her readers like.”
"This is a return to form for Reichs, who keeps the story moving at a brisk clip but never forgets that, ultimately, we’re here to see Dr. Brennan."
New York Times Book Review
"The forensic procedures take center stage, as they always do, in this cleverly plotted and expertly maintained series."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“When it comes to technical detail and local color, Reichs knows her stuff.”
Library Journal
In her latest outing (after Bones Are Forever), forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan has been called to help with several new cases. First, she must examine some potential Peruvian dog mummies confiscated by U.S. Customs to verify that they contain no human remains. A hit-and-run victim in Charlotte, NC, is next on Dr. Brennan’s dance card. No one steps forward to identify this young girl, who appears to be an illegal immigrant. While this case turns up no leads, Brennan’s soon-to-be ex-husband asks for her forensic help on behalf of an old Marine friend. This takes Brennan to Afghanistan to examine exhumed bodies of locals to determine how they were killed. Uneasiness prevails during her stay in Afghanistan, and it accompanies Brennan back to her testimony stateside, where the pieces start falling into place in unexpected ways.

Verdict This quick-moving and suspenseful narrative by a very popular author will delight mystery readers with surprising plot twists that keep them guessing. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/13.]—Kristen Stewart, Pearland Lib., Brazoria Cty. Lib. Syst., TX
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A three-course banquet of old bones, and some not so old, for forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (Bones Are Forever, 2012, etc.). The grab bag begins--if you don't count a shrill, miscalculated flash-forward prologue--with some mummified bones the Customs Service has confiscated from hideously disfigured Desert Storm vet Dominick Rockett. He maintains that he's legitimately imported the antique dog bones from Peru; Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Luther Dew smells smuggling or worse. Before Tempe can file her report, however, her attention is demanded by some much more recent remains. A Jane Doe the police found dead along the highway shows every signs of a sorry life--prostitution, drugs, violent death--that ended, according to Tempe's examination, at age 15. What can she tell behemoth Detective Erskine "Skinny" Slidell, of the Charlotte PD, that might help identify the victim or her killer? Despite a pair of cryptic anonymous phone calls about the young woman, this second case languishes long enough for Tempe to pick up a third. Second Lt. John Gross, whose uncle is an old friend of Tempe's all-but-ex Janis "Pete" Peterson, has been accused of shooting unarmed Afghani villagers in the back. If Tempe will only drop everything and travel to Afghanistan to take part in the official inquiry, Pete tells her, she'll get to see Katy, Tempe's daughter who reacted to her boyfriend's death there by enlisting herself and shipping out. Tempe can't help feeling that at least one of these cases involves sex trafficking, though Slidell warns her, "Smuggling dead dogs is one thing. Smuggling kids is a mighty big leap." Reichs, never one to stint on complications, deals them out mostly seriatim instead of intermingling them, and it'll be a canny reader who sees the thread that runs through all the cases and binds them together.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Temperance Brennan Series, #16
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Bones of the Lost


HEART POUNDING, I CRAWLED TOWARD the brick angling down to form the edge of the recess. Craned out.

More footfalls. Then heavy boots appeared at the top of the stairs, beside them a pair of small feet, one bare, the other in a platform pump.

The feet started to descend, the small ones wobbly, their owner somehow impaired. The lower legs angled oddly, suggesting the knees bore little weight.

Anger burned hot in my chest. The woman was drugged. The bastard was dragging her.

Four treads lower, the man and woman crossed an arrow of moonlight. Not a woman, a girl. Her hair was long, her arms and legs refugee thin. I could see a triangle of white tee below the man’s chin. A pistol grip jutting from his waistband.

The pair again passed into darkness. Their tightly pressed bodies formed a two-headed black silhouette.

Stepping from the bottom tread, the man started muscling the girl toward the loading-dock door, pushing her, a hand clamping her neck. She stumbled. He yanked her up. Her head flopped like a Bobblehead doll’s.

The girl took a few more staggering steps. Then her chin lifted and her body bucked. A cry broke the stillness, animal shrill.

The man’s free arm shot out. The silhouette recongealed. I heard a scream of pain, then the girl pitched forward onto the concrete.

The man dropped to one knee. His elbow pumped as he pummeled the inert little body.

“Fight me, you little bitch?”

The man punched and punched until his breath grew ragged.

Rage flamed white-hot in my brain, overriding any instinct for personal safety.

I scuttled over and grabbed the Beretta. Checked the safety, thankful for the practice I’d put in at the range.

Satisfied with the gun, I reached for my phone. It wasn’t with the flashlight.

I searched my other pocket. No phone.

Had I dropped it? In my frenzied dash, had I left it at home?

The panic was almost overwhelming. I was off the grid. What to do?

A tiny voice advised caution. Remain hidden. Wait. Slidell knows where you are.

“You are so dead.” The voice boomed, cruel and malicious.

I whipped around.

The man was wrenching the girl up by her hair.

Holding the Beretta two-handed in front of me, I darted from the alcove. The man froze at the sound of movement. I stopped five yards from him. Using a pillar for cover, I spread my feet and leveled the barrel.

“Let her go.” My shout reverberated off brick and concrete.

The man maintained his grasp on the girl’s hair. His back was to me.

“Hands up.”

He let go and straightened. His palms slowly rose to the level of his ears.

“Turn around.”

As the man rotated, another fragment of light caught him. For a second I saw his face with total clarity.

On spotting his foe, the man’s hands dipped slightly. Sensing he could see me better than I could see him, I squeezed further behind the pillar.

“The fucking slut lives.”

You’ll die, too, fucking slut.

“Takes balls to send threats by e-mail.” My voice sounded much more confident than I felt. “To bully defenseless little girls.”

“Debt to pay? You know the rules.”

“Your debt-collecting days are over, you sick sonofabitch.”

“Says who?”

“Says a dozen cops racing here now.”

The man cupped an upraised hand to one ear. “I don’t hear no sirens.”

“Move away from the girl,” I ordered.

He took a token step.

“Move,” I snarled. The guy’s fuck-you attitude was making me want to smash the Beretta across his skull.

“Or what? You’re gonna shoot me?”

“Yeah.” Cold steel. “I’m gonna shoot you.”

Would I? I’d never fired at a human being.

Where the hell was Slidell? I knew my bluff was being sustained by coffee and adrenaline. Knew both would eventually wear off.

The girl groaned.

In that split second I lost the advantage that might have allowed him to live.

I looked down.

He lunged.

Fresh adrenaline blasted through me.

I raised the gun.

He closed in.

I sighted on the white triangle.


The explosion echoed brutally loud. The concussion knocked my hands up, but I held position.

The man dropped.

In the murky gloom I saw the triangle go dark. Knew crimson was spreading across it. A perfect hit. The Triangle of Death.

Silence, but for my own rasping breath.

Then my higher centers caught up with my brain stem.

I’d killed a man.

My hands shook. Bile filled my throat.

I swallowed. Steadied the gun and stole forward.

The girl lay motionless. I crouched and placed trembling fingers on her throat. Felt a pulse, faint but steady.

I swiveled. Gazed at the man’s mute, malevolent eyes.

Suddenly I was exhausted. Revolted by what I’d just done.

I wondered. In my state, could I make good decisions? Carry through? My phone was back at the house.

I wanted to sit, hold my head in my hands, and let the tears flow.

Instead I drew a few steadying breaths, rose, and crossed what seemed a thousand miles of darkness. Climbed the stairs on rubbery legs.

A single passage cut right at the top. I followed it to the only closed door.

Gun tight in one clammy hand, I reached out and turned the knob with the other.

The door swung in.

I stared into pure horror.

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