Devil Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #11)

( 154 )


Following her most successful book to date, Kathy Reichs — international number one bestselling author, forensic anthropologist, and producer of the Fox television hit Bones — returns to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Temperance Brennan encounters a deadly mix of voodoo, Santería, and devil worship in her quest to identify two young victims.

In a house under renovation, a plumber uncovers a cellar no one knew about, and makes a rather grisly discovery — a decapitated chicken, ...

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Devil Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #11)

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Following her most successful book to date, Kathy Reichs — international number one bestselling author, forensic anthropologist, and producer of the Fox television hit Bones — returns to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Temperance Brennan encounters a deadly mix of voodoo, Santería, and devil worship in her quest to identify two young victims.

In a house under renovation, a plumber uncovers a cellar no one knew about, and makes a rather grisly discovery — a decapitated chicken, animal bones, and cauldrons containing beads, feathers, and other relics of religious ceremonies. In the center of the shrine, there is the skull of a teenage girl. Meanwhile, on a nearby lakeshore, the headless body of a teenage boy is found by a man walking his dog.

Nothing is clear — neither when the deaths occurred, nor where. Was the skull brought to the cellar or was the girl murdered there? Why is the boy's body remarkably well preserved? Led by a preacher turned politician, citizen vigilantes blame devil worshippers and Wiccans. They begin a witch hunt, intent on seeking revenge.

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan — "five-five, feisty, and forty-plus" — is called in to investigate, and a complex and gripping tale unfolds in this, Kathy Reichs's eleventh taut, always surprising, scientifically fascinating mystery.

With a popular series on Fox — now in its third season and in full syndication — Kathy Reichs has established herself as the dominant talent in forensic mystery writing. Devil Bones features Reichs's signature blend of forensic descriptions that "chill to the bone" (Entertainment Weekly) and the surprising plot twists that have made her books phenomenal bestsellers in the United States and around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Linda Emond's crisp and dry vocal interpretation of Reichs's Temperance Brennan, crime fiction's second most popular forensic expert, is on target. The cool approach works fine when the "5'5", feisty and 40-plus" heroine describes stumbling into a dark basement and finding a witches' brew of pagan artifacts and human and animal remains. It lets Temperance and the listener calmly contemplate her jumbled, alcohol-prone, romantically impaired life. And it helps in sorting out the clues for several gruesome killings that may or may not be connected and may or may not involve what one character describes as a "murderous devil conspiracy." But even Emond can't make Reichs's endless side trips into North Carolina history, geographical key notes and descriptions of the roots of voodoo and the Wicca religion sound anything but academic. Spare us the lectures; there's more than enough plot without the unnecessary digressions. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, June 9). (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

"Reichs is a standout...[with] a formidable way of incorporating science with character and plot.... Her expertise is snappily and entertainingly delivered."

Kirkus Reviews
Several troubling cases await forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Bones to Ashes, 2007, etc.) back home in Charlotte, N.C. Tempe Brennan's personal life is in tatters. Her love, a Montreal cop called Ryan, has gone back to his lover in hopes of stabilizing their troubled daughter; Tempe's ex is about to marry a much younger woman; and her daughter Katy is utterly bored with her job. A call to examine a skull found in a hidden floor space plunges Tempe into a case that may involve ritual murder. The skull and some kettles containing bones and various fetishes suggesting Santer'a or some other alternative religion may tie in with two headless bodies, one found floating in a river and another marked with Satanic symbols. Furious when a local politician uses the cases as an excuse to whip up hostility against little-understood religions, Tempe is far from convinced that the Wiccan who is arrested is guilty. When Rinaldi, one of the detectives she's working with, is killed in a drive-by, Tempe falls off the wagon but soldiers on, mortified, until she finally makes the connections between the crimes that lead to a close call with death and a startling conclusion. Not Reichs's best, but a meticulously laid-out case that offers a deeper look into her heroine's personal life. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh/William Morris Agency
From the Publisher
"Loved it! I'm amazed by how seamlessly Reichs makes the transition from forensic jargon to snappy, funny dialogue — scientist to great storyteller. What's not to admire and envy?" — Sandra Brown, author of Play Dirty

"Reichs is a standout...[with] a formidable way of incorporating science with character and plot.... Her expertise is snappily and entertainingly delivered." — Booklist

"Fascinating." — Entertainment Weekly

"The lab lady most likely to dethrone Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta." — USA Today

"Reichs keeps the roller coaster on track and speeding along, page after page." — Jeffery Deaver

"Her expertise is snappily and entertainingly delivered." — Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743571890
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 8/26/2008
  • Series: Temperance Brennan Series, #11
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathy Reichs

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).

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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


My name is Temperance Deassee Brennan. I'm five-five, feisty, and forty-plus. Multidegreed. Overworked. Underpaid.


Slashing lines through that bit of literary inspiration, I penned another opening.

I'm a forensic anthropologist. I know death. Now it stalks me. This is my story.

Merciful God. Jack Webb and Dragnet reincarnate.

More slashes.

I glanced at the clock. Two thirty-five.

Abandoning the incipient autobiography, I began to doodle. Circles inside circles. The clock face. The conference room. The UNCC campus. Charlotte. North Carolina. North America. Earth. The Milky Way.

Around me, my colleagues argued minutiae with all the passion of religious zealots. The current debate concerned wording within a subsection of the departmental self-study. The room was stifling, the topic poke-me-in-the-eye dull. We'd been in session for over two hours, and time was not flying.

I added spiral arms to the outermost of my concentric circles. Began filling spaces with dots. Four hundred billion stars in the galaxy. I wished I could put my chair into hyperdrive to any one of them.

Anthropology is a broad discipline, comprised of linked subspecialties. Physical. Cultural. Archaeological. Linguistic. Our department has the full quartet. Members of each group were feeling a need to have their say.

George Petrella is a linguist who researches myth as a narrative of individual and collective identity. Occasionally he says something I understand.

At the moment, Petrella was objecting to the wording "reducible to" four distinct fields. He was proposing substitution of the phrase "divisible into."

Cheresa Bickham, a Southwestern archaeologist, and Jennifer Roberts, a specialist in cross-cultural belief systems, were holding firm for "reducible to."

Tiring of my galactic pointillism, and not able to reduce or divide my ennui into any matters of interest, I switched to calligraphy.

Temperance. The trait of avoiding excess.

Double order, please. Side of restraint. Hold the ego.

Time check.

Two fifty-eight.

The verbiage flowed on.

At 3:10 a vote was taken. "Divisible into" carried the day.

Evander Doe, department chair for over a decade, was presiding. Though roughly my age, Doe looks like someone out of a Grant Wood painting. Bald. Owlish wire-rims. Pachyderm ears.

Most who know Doe consider him dour. Not me. I've seen the man smile at least two or three times.

Having put "divisible into" behind him, Doe proceeded to the next burning issue. I halted my swirly lettering to listen.

Should the department's mission statement stress historical ties to the humanities and critical theory, or should it emphasize the emerging role of the natural sciences and empirical observation?

My aborted autobiography had been smack on. I would die of boredom before this meeting adjourned.

Sudden mental image. The infamous sensory deprivation experiments of the 1950s. I pictured volunteers wearing opaque goggles and padded hand muffs, lying on cots in white-noise chambers.

I listed their symptoms and compared them to my present state.

Anxiety. Depression. Antisocial behavior. Hallucination.

I crossed out the fourth item. Though stressed and irritable, I wasn't hallucinating. Yet. Not that I'd mind. A vivid vision would have provided diversion.

Don't get me wrong. I've not grown cynical about teaching. I love being a professor. I regret that my interaction with students seems more limited each year.

Why so little classroom time? Back to the subdiscipline thing.

Ever try to see just a doctor? Forget it. Cardiologist. Dermatologist. Endocrinologist. Gastroenterologist. It's a specialized world. My field is no different.

Anthropology: the study of the human organism. Physical anthropology: the study of the biology, variability, and evolution of the human organism. Osteology: the study of the bones of the human organism. Forensic anthropology: the study of the bones of the human organism for legal purposes.

Follow the diverging branches, and there I am. Though my training was in bioarchaeology, and I started my career excavating and analyzing ancient remains, I shifted into forensics years ago. Crossed to the dark side, my grad school buddies still tease. Drawn by fame and fortune. Yeah, right. Well, maybe some notoriety, but certainly no fortune.

Forensic anthropologists work with the recently dead. We're employed by law enforcement agencies, coroners, medical examiners, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the military, human rights groups, and mass-disaster recovery teams. Drawing on our knowledge of biomechanics, genetics, and skeletal anatomy, we address questions of identification, cause of death, postmortem interval, and postmortem alteration of the corpse. We examine the burned, decomposed, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, and skeletal. Often, by the time we see remains, they're too compromised for an autopsy to yield data of value.

As an employee of the state of North Carolina, I'm under contract to both UNC-Charlotte, and to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which has facilities in Charlotte and Chapel Hill. In addition, I consult for the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale in Montreal.

North Carolina and Quebec? Extraordinaire. More on that later.

Because of my cross-border treks and my dual responsibilities within North Carolina, I teach only one course at UNCC, an upper-level seminar in forensic anthropology. This was my biannual semester in the classroom.

And the conference room.

I look forward to the teaching. It's the interminable meetings that I detest. And the faculty politics.

Someone moved that the mission statement be returned to committee for further study. Hands rose, mine among them. As far as I was concerned, the thing could be sent to Zimbabwe for permanent interment.

Doe introduced the next agenda item. Formation of a committee on professional ethics.

Inwardly groaning, I began a list of tasks requiring my attention.

1. Specimens to Alex.

Alex is my lab and teaching assistant. Using my selections, she would set up a bone quiz for the next seminar.

2. Report to LaManche.

Pierre LaManche is a pathologist, and chief of the medico-legal section at the LSJML. The last case I'd done before leaving Montreal the previous week was one of his, an auto-fire victim. According to my analysis, the charred corpse was that of a thirty-something white male.

Unfortunately for LaManche, the presumed driver should have been a fifty-nine-year-old Asian female. Unfortunately for the victim, someone had pumped two slugs into his left parietal. Unfortunately for me, the case was a homicide and would probably require my presence in court.

3. Report to Larabee.

Tim Larabee is the Mecklenburg County medical examiner, and director of the three-pathologist Charlotte facility. His had been the first case I'd done upon returning to North Carolina, a bloated and decomposed lower torso washed up on the shore of the Catawba River. Pelvic structure had indicated the individual was male. Skeletal development had bracketed the age between twelve and fourteen. Healed fractures of the right fourth and fifth metatarsals had suggested the possibility of an ID from antemortem hospital records and X-rays, if such could be found.

4. Phone Larabee.

Arriving on campus today, I'd found a two-word voice mail from the MCME: Call me. I'd been dialing when Petrella came to drag me into the meeting from hell.

When last we'd spoken, Larabee had located no missing person reports that matched the Catawba River vic's profile. Perhaps he'd now found one. I hoped so, for the sake of the family. And the child.

I thought of the conversation Larabee would have with the parents. I've had those talks, delivered those life-shattering pronouncements. It's the worst part of my job. There is no easy way to tell a mother and father that their child is dead. That his legs have been found, but his head remains missing.

5. Sorenstein recommendation.

Rudy Sorenstein was an undergraduate with hopes of continuing his studies at Harvard or Berkeley. No letter from me was going to make that happen. But Rudy tried hard. Worked well with others. I'd give his mediocre GPA the best spin possible.

6. Katy shopping.

Kathleen Brennan Petersons is my daughter, living in Charlotte as of this fall, employed as a researcher in the public defender's office. Having spent the previous six years as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Katy was desperately in need of clothes made of fabric other than denim. And of money to buy them. I'd offered to serve as fashion consultant. There's irony. Pete, my estranged husband, was functioning as ways and means.

7. Birdie litter.

Birdie is my cat. He is fussy concerning matters of feline toilette, and expresses his displeasure in ways I try to prevent. Inconveniently, Birdie's preferred litter brand is available only in veterinary offices.

8. Dental checkup.

The notification had been delivered with yesterday's mail.

Sure. I'd get right on that.

9. Dry cleaning.

10. Car inspection.

11. Shower door handle.

I sensed, more than heard, an odd sound in the room. Stillness.

Glancing up, I realized attention was focused on me.

"Sorry." I shifted a hand to cover my tablet. Casually.

"Your preference, Dr. Brennan?"

"Read them back."

Doe listed what I assumed were three hotly contested names.

"Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct. Committee on the Evaluation of Ethical Procedures. Committee on Ethical Standards and Practices."

"The latter implies the imposition of rules set by an external body or regulating board." Petrella was doing petulant.

Bickham threw her pen to the tabletop. "No. It does not. It is simp — "

"The department is creating an ethics committee, right?"

"It's critical that the body's title accurately reflect the philosophical underpinnings — "

"Yes." Doe's reply to my question cut Petrella off.

"Why not call it the Ethics Committee?"

Ten pairs of eyes froze on my face. Some looked confused. Some surprised. Some offended.

Petrella slumped back in his chair.

Bickham coughed.

Roberts dropped her gaze.

Doe cleared his throat. Before he could speak, a soft knock broke the silence.

"Yes?" Doe.

The door opened, and a face appeared in the crack. Round. Freckled. Worried. Twenty-two curious eyes swiveled to it.

"Sorry to interrupt." Naomi Gilder was the newest of the departmental secretaries. And the most timid. "I wouldn't, of course, except..."

Naomi's gaze slid to me.

"Dr. Larabee said it was urgent that he speak with Dr. Brennan."

My first impulse was to do an arm-pump Yes! Instead, I raised acquiescent brows and palms. Duty calls. What can one do?

Gathering my papers, I left the room and practically danced across the reception area and down a corridor lined with faculty offices. Every door was closed. Of course they were. The occupants were cloistered in a windowless conference room arguing administrative trivia.

I felt exhilarated. Free!

Entering my office, I punched Larabee's number. My eyes drifted to the window. Four floors down, rivers of students flowed to and from late-afternoon classes. Low, angled rays bronzed the trees and ferns in Van Landingham Glen. When I'd entered the meeting the sun had been straight overhead.

"Larabee." The voice was a little on the high side, with a soft Southern accent.

"It's Tempe."

"Did I drag you from something important?"

"Pretentious pomposity."


"Never mind. Is this regarding the Catawba River floater?"

"Twelve-year-old from Mount Holly name of Anson Tyler. Parents were on a gambling junket in Vegas. Returned day before yesterday, discovered the kid hadn't been home for a week."

"How did they calculate that?"

"Counted the remaining Pop-Tarts."

"You obtained medical records?"

"I want your take, of course, but I'd bet the farm the broken toes on Tyler's X-rays match those on our vic."

I thought of little Anson alone in his house. Watching TV. Making peanut butter sandwiches and toasting Pop-Tarts. Sleeping with the lights on.

The feeling of exhilaration began to fade.

"What morons go off and leave a twelve-year-old child?"

"The Tylers won't be getting nominations for parents of the year."

"They'll be charged with child neglect?"


"Is Anson Tyler the reason you called?" According to Naomi, Larabee had said urgent. Positive ID's didn't usually fall into that category.

"Earlier. But not now. Just got off the horn with the homicide boys. They may have a nasty situation."

I listened.

Trepidation quashed the last lingering traces of exhilaration.

Copyright © 2008 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 154 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 155 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Love and Crime

    I have yet to meet a book written by Kathy Reichs that I didn't enjoy. Devil Bones is no exception. Tempe is asked to review the remains found in a home under renovation. The bones were found in what could only be described as a Voodoo setting. While she is doing this, a headless body of a teenage boy is discovered on a lakeshore. Are the two connected in some way?

    Two detectives work with Tempe to discover if this is really Voodoo or some other form of devil worship. Between a preacher/politician trying to get elected and his sermonizing about the find, one of the detectives getting killed and Andrew Ryan coming back into Tempe's life right along with an old high school flame, there is plenty of action to keep your mind whirling.

    Linda Emond reads with easy and clarity. She provides several voices that are appropriate for each character so the listener has no problem following who is speaking.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2008

    Not Her Normal

    I have collected and read all of Kathy Reichs' book, so I guess you could say I have been a fan for a long time. However, this book seemed almost like a chore to read. The plot was not bad, but it seemed like the technical jargon in this particular book was stronger than the actual plot. Sometimes I found myself skimming the "tech speak" to get to the conversations developing the plot. If she continues with this format, I may become an ex fan.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    This is enjoyable.

    I really enjoyed the book better than the TV series.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    not her best effort

    The overall plot is not new; it has been done and redone. Brennan spends far more time in this novel as a police investigator than a forensic anthropologist. As a murder mystery, this book was more run of the mill than I would expect.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fun and Interesting

    Even though Reichs' books all deal with Temperance and her colleagues, the books are not as formulaic as you might assume they would be. Each book deals with an entirely different forensic situation and the murders take place in different locales that she describes in detail.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Tempe Brennan's Latest Case

    Really, what can I say - Kathy Reichs is the queen of forensic mysteries. Reichs works as a forensic anthropologist in the US and Canada. She knows what she writing about. Her character Tempe Brennan is also a forensic anthropologist. The television show Bones is also based on this character. Devil Bones finds Tempe called in to consult on bones found in a cauldron in a hidden cellar. They seem to be part of a religious ceremony. Another body is found and the two may be connected. A local politician is using these murders to stir up the populace. Reich's mysteries are intelligent and well thought out. The details and science are realistic. Her series features some similarities to Cornwell's - the rumpled cop crony, the angry young relative, conflicts with superiors, the on again off again romance with a fellow law enforcement officer and a few others. I just find Reich's writing superior to what Cornwell has put out lately.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Devil Bones

    Fantastic! Love Kathy Reichs. She has a way with words, that can express beyond anyone's creative imagination.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Another great book!

    Kathy Reichs does it again. I couldn't put down this book. She kept me guessing right until the end. She also got the facts right about the Wiccan religon. I also like that Tempe's life is getting some turns in it and not the standard, 'okay let's hook up with the handsome hero.' I look forward to her next book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2008

    Ignorance of the people

    My goodness this was a very exciting book but I have to say some of the reviews I read were overcritical. I read ONE saying that she got the facts wrong on wiccan religion. I think it is rude of the critic to review someone on there take of a very much controversial religion. Just because this is your take on the religion doesnt mean it is everybodies. WHy accuse someone of doing something wrong when you probably just interpreted it incorrectly. Adults need to take a lesson from children. They have no prejudice and neither should anybody when doing a simple passtime such as reading a book. Learn a little.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Readers will enjoy this in depth complex brilliant thriller

    Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is in Charlotte, North Carolina working as an instructor at UNC-Charlotte and also at the office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She is called out of a boring college meeting by ME Dr. Larabee, who asks her to go to a house where a plumber broke through a wall only to see a previously concealed cellar with a cauldron with a skull on it behind the wall.----------- Temperance arrives at the scene and she sees two cauldrons with the human skull on one of them but it is missing the jaw. She takes it to lab to examine the find. She determines the skull is that of a black teenage female, but cannot decide on when she died. The two cauldrons contain objects used in Afro-Carib religious ceremonies. While Temp tries to identify the victim, a torso of a young male is found with satanic symbols on it. An evangelical councilman plans to use the satanic angle to further his political aspirations by pointing at a person who is obviously innocent. When two more murders occur, Temp interprets the notes of the murdered cop who worked the case, but that only leads her to danger from a vile killer who has no qualms of committing another homicide.---------- Kathy Reichs brilliantly simplifies the forensics sciences without dumbing down the theories or supporting facts, which turns DEAD BONES into a terrific read. There are plenty of viable suspects but no prime person of interest. Thus the protagonist and the police have their work to end the killings. Temp is strong willed who retains her femininity and sense of humor as she works with human remains and living humans while seeking clues to her current case. Readers will enjoy this in depth complex thriller.------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2015

    not worth reading

    I have enjoyed Reichs' books and found this book had a very tangled story that didn't hang together. Too technical on forensics and too little character development.

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  • Posted May 22, 2015


    Kathy Reich's does it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014


    This book was 289 pages. The story was real and was good. REICHS way of writing isnt for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Obvious the author has a split personality

    If she writes both novel and script which is mrs hyde depends on which you prefer. I prefer the t v show so mrs hyde gets the no star.

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  • Posted February 2, 2014

    please check this one out.

    liked this one a lot. don't know how Kathy keeps getting the ideas for her books but I hope she never runs out material to write about Brennan. Love BONES, one of my favorite shows.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014


    I love the Tempe books, but I found myself counting down the pages until we got to Ryan... I feel like there is more pointless technical jargon (normally I don't mind it) I'm this one than necessary. It goes on and on about paganism and Wicca, when it ends up not actually having much to do with the story. I skimmed through most of it.

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  • Posted March 26, 2013

    Highly recommend that people read this I love her books!


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  • Posted June 20, 2012

    Highly Recommended - a 'key' answer.

    Unbelievably descriptive of real life terrain.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    I love it!!

    I have read 4 books of K. Reichs and i can't stop reading it. I just love that kind of book and my goal is to read it all. Kathy don't stop writting!!

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  • Posted August 21, 2011

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

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

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 155 Customer Reviews

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