Grave Secrets (Temperance Brennan Series #5)

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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.

A harrowing excavation unearths a chilling tragedy never laid to rest.

They are "the disappeared," twenty-three massacre victims buried in a well in the Guatemalan village of Chupan Ya two decades ago. Leading a team of experts on a ...

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Grave Secrets (Temperance Brennan Series #5)

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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.

A harrowing excavation unearths a chilling tragedy never laid to rest.

They are "the disappeared," twenty-three massacre victims buried in a well in the Guatemalan village of Chupan Ya two decades ago. Leading a team of experts on a meticulous, heartbreaking dig, Tempe Brennan pieces together the violence of the past. But a fresh wave of terror begins when the horrific sounds of a fatal attack on two colleagues come in on a blood-chilling satellite call. Teaming up with Special Crimes Investigator Bartolomé Galiano and Montreal detective Andrew Ryan, Tempe quickly becomes enmeshed in the cases of four privileged young women who have vanished from Guatemala City — and finds herself caught in deadly territory where power, money, greed, and science converge.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Twenty years ago, soldiers stalked into a Guatemalan highlands village and executed everyone in sight, including women and children. Now, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan must dig into the shallow, hastily dug graves to search for unidentified victims. But while investigating this old massacre, Tempe begins to uncover evidence of a new one. What happened, she wonders, to the four missing girls of Guatemala City and who was the woman on the phone, screaming until her last breath? Another realistic and thoroughly chilling Kathy Reichs novel.
From the Publisher
"Powerful . . . a page-turner." — The Hartford Courant (CT)

"The medical details . . . [are] vivid and fascinating." — Booklist

"Chilling." — People

Publishers Weekly
Fans of the Temperance Brennan series will be pleased by forensic anthropologist Reichs's latest installment (after Fatal Voyage; Deadly Decisions; etc.). Grave Secrets finds Tempe plying her pathology trade in Guatemala, investigating a massacre site as a favor to a Guatemalan anthropology association. However, when her team is ambushed by gunmen, Tempe finds herself ensnared in a mesh of corruption and murder stretching from Guatemala City to Montreal, involving DAs, military thugs and kinky diplomats. Tempe finds herself drawn and trapped between the two cops investigating: her longtime Canadian suitor, Lt. Andrew Ryan, and her would-be Latin lover, agente Bartolom Galiano. That the two men know each other and are friends doesn't help the situation. When a nosy reporter looking into the massacre is gunned down before Tempe's eyes, she realizes she herself is the next likely target. As has been said before, Reichs has much in common with Patricia Cornwell, though her language is more stripped down and there is less melodrama between autopsies. Devotees of medical procedurals will appreciate the detailed descriptions of bone formation and the mechanics of bodily decomposition within a septic tank; others may not. But the author keeps the twists coming, and by the novel's climax, she has skillfully interwoven her many subplots and red herrings into a satisfying puddle of sex, sleaze, greed and gore. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan volunteers to help exhume and identify bodies from 20-year-old mass graves in Guatemala. Police investigator Galliano requests her assistance in a current case because of her experience with human remains found in septic tanks. Hard-boiled and formidable on the surface, Tempe underneath is a muddle of conflict and insecurity. Luckily, her colleagues don't have to listen to her querulous inner conversations concerning her loathing of death, her pride in her professional accomplishments, and her sexual attraction to two policemen who (she thinks) are comparing notes on her when she isn't around. Katherine Borowitz is an accomplished reader. She brings the listener through the stinky muck of sewers into the equally polluted world of Guatemalan politics. In her interpretation of Tempe, she portrays the heroine's uncompromising toughness through swift pacing and forceful consonants, her sympathy for the victims through a slower pace and rising inflections, and her inner battles with plaintive emphasis on key words. The setting is interesting, the plot suitably convoluted, and the reader true to the material. However, Tempe's inner wimp will exasperate hard-boiled mystery aficionados. Recommended for large mystery collections.-Juleigh Muirhead Clark, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Lib., Colonial Williamsburg Fdn., VA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Invited to Guatemala to examine the remains of rural Mayan villagers executed over 20 years ago, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan doesn't know that her reconstruction of the brutal annihilation of Chupan Ya is only the prelude to a series of escalating horrors. First, Tempe's colleague Molly Carraway and her driver are ambushed on an isolated road; then Tempe is asked to analyze a grisly discovery made in the septic tank belonging to a little hotel in Guatemala City. Four young women, including Chantale Specter, the headstrong daughter of the Canadian ambassador, have gone missing from the capital over the past six months, and the corpse in the tank may provide evidence of a possible serial killer or consolation to the ambassador and his wife. But no sooner is Tempe ordered by her boss back in Quebec to undertake an examination than she's stonewalled by the very local authorities who'd asked for her participation. Nor does her brief time with the corpse yield any clues to the murderer's identity; the most remarkable findings, in fact, concern a telltale cat hair. A trip back to her home base in Quebec will provide some answers at the expense of raising others, and the range of felons and felonies will broaden with every gruesome discovery. Even Tempe's off-again romance with high-handed cop Andrew Ryan will be shaken by a new pursuer, Guatemala City Sgt. Bartolome Galiano, Ryan's old schoolmate. The impossibly busy plot, linking every felony in the Western Hemisphere over a generation, clogs Tempe's fifth (Fatal Voyage) as badly as that septic tank.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671028381
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Series: Temperance Brennan Series , #5
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 92,141
  • Product dimensions: 4.70 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathy Reichs, like her character Dr. 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. A professor in the department of anthropology at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, she is one of only ninety-nine forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. Reichs’s first book, Déjà Dead, catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her latest Temperance Brennan novel, Bones of the Lost, 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 1

"I am dead. They killed me as well."

The old woman's words cut straight to my heart.

"Please tell me what happened that day." Maria spoke so softly I had to strain to catch the Spanish.

"I kissed the little ones and left for market." Eyes down, voice toneless. "I did not know that I would never see them again."

K'akchiquel to Spanish, then reversing the linguistic loop, reversing again as answers followed questions. The translation did nothing to blunt the horror of the recitation.

"When did you return home, Señora Ch'i'p?"

"A que hora regreso usted a su casa, Señora Ch'i'p?"

"Chike ramaj xatzalij pa awachoch, Ixoq Ch'i'p?"

"Late afternoon. I'd sold my beans."

"The house was burning?"

"Yes."

"Your family was inside?"

A nod.

I watched the speakers. An ancient Mayan woman, her middle-aged son, the young cultural anthropologist Maria Paiz, calling up a memory too terrible for words. I felt anger and sorrow clash inside me like the thunderheads building on the horizon.

"What did you do?"

"We buried them in the well. Quickly, before the soldiers came back."

I studied the old woman. Her face was brown corduroy. Her hands were calloused, her long braid more gray than black. Fabric lay folded atop her head, bright reds, pinks, yellows, and blues, woven into patterns older than the mountains around us. One corner rose and fell with the wind.

The woman did not smile. She did not frown. Her eyes met no one's, to my relief. I knew if they lingered on mine even briefly, the transfer of pain would be brutal. Maybe she understood that and averted her gaze to avoid drawing others into the hell those eyes concealed.

Or perhaps it was distrust. Perhaps the things she had seen made her unwilling to look frankly into unknown faces.

Feeling dizzy, I upended a bucket, sat, and took in my surroundings.

I was six thousand feet up in the western highlands of Guatemala, at the bottom of a steep-sided gorge. The village of Chupan Ya. Between the Mountains. About one hundred and twenty-five kilometers northwest of Guatemala City.

Around me flowed a wide river of green, lush forest interspersed with small fields and garden plots, like islands. Here and there rows of man-made terraces burst through the giant checkerboard, cascading downward like playful waterfalls. Mist clung to the highest peaks, blurring their contours into Monet softness.

I'd rarely seen surroundings so beautiful. The Great Smoky Mountains. The Gatineau, Quebec, under northern lights. The barrier islands off the Carolina coast. Haleakula volcano at dawn. The loveliness of the backdrop made the task at hand even more heartbreaking.

As a forensic anthropologist, it is my job to unearth and study the dead. I identify the burned, the mummified, the decomposed, and the skeletonized who might otherwise go to anonymous graves. Sometimes the identifications are generic, Caucasoid female, mid-twenties. Other times I can confirm a suspected ID. In some cases, I figure out how these people died. Or how their corpses were mutilated.

par

I am used to the aftermath of death. I am familiar with the smell of it, the sight of it, the idea of it. I have learned to steel myself emotionally in order to practice my profession.

But the old woman was breaking through my determined detachment.

Another wave of vertigo. The altitude, I told myself, lowering my head and breathing deeply.

Though my home bases are North Carolina and Quebec, where I serve as forensic anthropologist to both jurisdictions, I'd volunteered to come to Guatemala for one month as temporary consultant to the Fundación de Antropologia Forense de Guatemala. The Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, FAFG, was working to locate and identify the remains of those who vanished during the 1962 to 1996 civil war, one of the bloodiest conflicts in Latin American history.

I'd learned a lot since my arrival one week before. Estimates of the missing ranged from one to two hundred thousand. The bulk of the slaughter was carried out by the Guatemalan army and by paramilitary organizations affiliated with the army. Most of those killed were rural peasants. Many were women and children.

Typically, victims were shot or slashed with machetes. Villages were not always as fortunate as Chupan Ya. There they'd had time to hide their dead. More often, bodies were buried in unmarked mass graves, dumped in rivers, left under the ruins of huts or houses. Families were given no explanations, no lists of those missing, no records. A UN Commission for Historical Clarification referred to these massacres as a genocide of the Mayan people.

Families and neighbors referred to their missing members as the "desaparecidos." The disappeared. The FAFG was trying to find them, or, more accurately, their remains. And I had come to help.

Here in Chupan Ya, soldiers and civil patrollers had entered on an August morning in 1982. Fearing they'd be accused of collaborating with the local guerrilla movement and punished, the men fled. The women were told to gather with their children at designated farms. Trusting, or perhaps fearing, the military, they obeyed. When the soldiers located the women where they'd been sent, they raped them for hours, then killed them along with their kids. Every house in the valley was burned to the ground.

Survivors spoke of five mass graves. Twenty-three women and children were said to lie at the bottom of the well behind Señora Ch'i'p.

The old woman continued her story. Over her shoulder I could see the structure we'd erected three days earlier to protect the well site from rain and sun. Backpacks and camera cases hung from metal uprights, and tarps covered the opening of the pit beneath. Boxes, buckets, shovels, picks, brushes, and storage containers lay as we'd left them early that morning.

Rope had been strung from pole to pole around the excavation to create a boundary between spectators and workers. Inside the restraint sat three idle members of the FAFG team. Outside it stood the villagers who came each day to observe in silence.

And the police guards who'd been told to shut us down.

We'd been close to uncovering evidence when we received the order to halt. The soil had begun yielding ash and cinders. Its color had changed from mahogany to graveyard black. We'd found a child's hair clip in the sifting screen. Fragments of cloth. A tiny sneaker.

Dear God. Did the old woman's family really lie only inches below the point at which we'd stopped?

Five daughters and nine grandchildren. Shot, macheted, and burned in their home together with neighboring women and children. How does one endure such loss? What could life offer her but endless pain?

Shifting my gaze back to the surrounding countryside, I noted half a dozen farmsteads carved out of the foilage. Adobe walls, tile roofs, smoke curling from cooking fires. Each had a dirt yard, outdoor privy, and an emaciated brown dog or two. The wealthier had chickens, a scrawny hog, a bicycle.

Two of Señora Ch'i'p's daughters had lived in the cluster of huts halfway up the eastern escarpment. Another had lived on top, where we'd parked the FAFG vehicles. These women were married; she didn't remember their ages. Their babies were three days, ten months, two, four, and five years old.

Her youngest daughters were still at home. They'd been eleven and thirteen.

Families, connected by a network of footpaths, and by a network of genes. Their world was this valley.

I imagined Señora Ch'i'p returning that day, perhaps descending the same dirt trail our team struggled down each morning and up each evening. She had sold her beans. She was probably happy.

Then horror.

Two decades is not long enough to forget. A lifetime is not long enough.

I wondered how often she thought of them. Did their phantoms walk with her as she trudged to market, following the same course she'd taken the fatal day? Did they slip past the tattered rag covering her window when darkness claimed the valley each night? Did they people her dreams? Did they come to her smiling and laughing as they'd been in life? Or bloodied and charred as she'd found them in death?

My vision blurred, and I dropped my head again, stared at the dirt. How was it possible for human beings to do that to other human beings? To helpless and unresisting women and children? In the distance, I heard the rumble of thunder.

Seconds, maybe years later, the interview stopped, an untranslated question left dangling in space. When I looked up Maria and her interpreter had shifted their attention to the hill behind me. Señora Ch'i'p remained focused on her sandals, hand to cheek, fingers curled like a newborn's.

"Mateo's back," said Elena Norvillo, an FAFG member from the El Petén region. I turned as she pushed to her feet. The rest of the team observed from under the tent.

Two men were working their way down one of the many footpaths that meandered through the gorge, the leader in blue windbreaker, faded jeans, brown cap. Though I couldn't read them from where I sat, I knew the letters above his brim said FAFG. The six of us waiting wore identical caps. The man following was suited and tied and carried a collapsible chair.

We watched the pair pick their way through scraggly corn surrounded by a half dozen subsidiary crops, careful to damage nothing. A bean seedling. A potato plant. Minor to us, but critical food or income to the family that owned it.

When they drew within twenty yards, Elena shouted.

"Did you get it?"

Mateo gave a thumbs-up.

The injunction to suspend excavation had come from a local magistrate. According to his interpretation of the exhumation order, no work was to proceed outside the presence of a judge, the Guatemalan equivalent of a district attorney. Visiting early this morning and finding no judge on site, the magistrate had ordered digging halted. Mateo had gone to Guatemala City to have this ruling overturned.

Mateo led his companion directly to the two uniformed guards, members of the National Civil Police, and produced a document. The older cop shifted the strap of his semiautomatic, took the paper and read, head down, shiny black bill reflecting the dimming afternoon light. His partner stood with foot thrust forward, a bored expression on his face.

After a brief exchange with the suited visitor, the senior cop returned the order to Mateo and nodded.

The villagers watched, silent but curious, as Juan, Luis, and Rosa stood and exchanged high fives. Mateo and his companion joined them at the well. Elena followed.

Crossing to the tent, I glanced again at Señora Ch'i'p and her adult son. The man was scowling, hatred seeping from every pore. Hatred for whom? I wondered. For those who had butchered his family? For those who had come from a different world to disturb their bones? For distant authorities who would block even that small effort? For himself for having survived that day? His mother stood woodenly, face impassive.

Mateo introduced the suited man as Roberto Amado, a representative from the judge/district attorney's office. The Guatemala City judge had ruled that Amado's presence would satisfy the requirements of the exhumation order. Amado would be with us for the duration, observing and recording in order to validate the quality of work for the court.

Amado shook hands with each of us, moved to a corner of the covered area, unfolded his chair, and sat. Mateo began issuing orders.

"Luis, Rosa, please sift. Tempe and I will dig. Juan, haul dirt. We'll rotate as needed."

Mateo had a small, V-shaped scar on his upper lip that broadened into a U whenever he smiled. Today, the V remained narrow as a spike.

"Elena, document and photograph. Skeletal inventory, artifact inventory, photo log. Every molecule goes on record."

"Where are Carlos and Molly?" asked Elena.

Carlos Menzes was a member of an Argentine human rights organization who'd been advising the FAFG since its formation in 1992. Molly Carraway was an archaeologist newly arrived from Minnesota.

"They're driving the other truck out here for transport. We'll need another vehicle when we're ready to leave with all the equipment and artifacts."

He glanced at the sky.

"The storm is two hours off, maybe three if we're lucky. Let's find these people before there's more legal bullshit."

As I collected trowels and placed them in a bucket tied to a length of rope, Mateo zipped the court order into his pack and hung it over a crossbar. His eyes and hair were black, his body a fire hydrant, short and thick. Tubes of muscle bulged in his neck and arms as he and Luis flung back the tarps covering the mouth of the excavation.

Mateo placed a boot on the first of the dirt steps we'd terraced into a pit wall. Edges crumbled, sending dirt two meters to the floor below. The cascading particles made soft, ticking sounds as Mateo slowly climbed down.

When he reached bottom, I lowered the bucket, then zipped my windbreaker. Three days had taught me well. May was pleasant in the highlands, but underground the clammy cold knifed straight to your marrow. I'd left Chupan Ya each evening chilled through, my digits numb.

I descended as Mateo had done, placing my feet sideways, testing each makeshift tread. My pulse accelerated as the gloom closed around me.

Mateo held up a hand and I took it. Stepping off the last riser, I stood in a hole no more than six feet square. The walls and floor were slick, the air dank and rotten.

My heart thumped below my sternum. A bead of sweat raced down the furrow overlying my spine.

Always in narrow, dark places.

I turned from Mateo, pretended to clean my trowel. My hands trembled.

Closing my eyes, I fought past the claustrophobia. I thought of my daughter. Katy as a toddler. Katy at the University of Virginia. Katy at the beach. I pictured my cat, Birdie. My townhouse in Charlotte. My condo in Montreal.

I played the game. First song to pop into my mind. Neil Young. "Harvest Moon." I ran through the lyrics.

My breathing eased. My heart slowed.

I opened my eyes and checked my watch. Fifty-seven seconds. Not as good as yesterday. Better than Tuesday. Much better than Monday.

Mateo was already on his knees, scraping the damp earth. I moved to the opposite corner of the pit, and for the next twenty minutes we worked in silence, troweling, inspecting the ground, scooping dirt into buckets.

Objects emerged with increasing frequency. A shard of glass. A chunk of metal. Charred wood. Elena bagged and recorded each item.

Noise reached us from the world above. Banter. A request. The bark of a dog. Now and then I'd glance up, unconsciously reassuring my id.

Faces peered down. Men in gaucho hats, women in traditional Mayan weaves, toddlers clinging to their skirts. Babies stared with round, black eyes, secured to their mothers by rainbow textiles. I saw a hundred variations on high cheekbones, black hair, sienna skin.

On one upward glance I noticed a little girl, arms above her head, fingers curled around the restraining rope. Typical kid. Chubby cheeks, dirty feet, ponytails.

A stab of pain.

The child was the same age as one of Señora Ch'i'p's granddaughters. Her hair was bound with barrettes identical to the one we'd found in the screen.

I smiled. She turned her face and pressed it to her mother's legs. A brown hand reached down and stroked her head.

According to witnesses, the hole in which we worked had been intended as a cistern. Begun but never completed, it was hastily transformed into an unmarked grave on the night of the massacre.

A grave for people identical to those keeping vigil above.

Fury swirled in me as I resumed digging.

Focus, Brennan. Channel your outrage to uncover evidence. Do that which you are able to do.

Ten minutes later my trowel touched something hard. Laying the implement aside, I cleared mud with my fingers.

The object was slender, like a pencil, with an angled neck ending in a corrugated upper surface. Above the neck, a tiny cap. Surrounding neck and cap, a circular cup.

I sat back on my heels and studied my find. A femur and pelvis. The hip of a child no older than two.

I looked up, and my gaze met that of the little girl. Again she whipped away. But this time she turned back, peeked through the folds of her mother's skirt, smiled shyly.

Sweet Jesus in heaven.

Tears burned the back of my lids.

"Mateo."

I pointed at the little bones. Mateo crawled to my corner.

Along most of its length, the femur was mottled gray and black from exposure to fire and smoke. The distal end was crumbly white, suggesting more intense burning.

For a moment neither of us spoke. Then Mateo crossed himself and said in a low voice, "We've got them."

When Mateo stood and repeated the phrase, the entire team gathered at the edge of the well.

A fleeting thought. We've got whom, Mateo? We've got the victims, not the assassins. What chance is there that any of these government-sanctioned butchers will ever face charges, let alone be punished?

Elena tossed down a camera, then a plastic marker stamped with the numeral "1." I positioned the case number and took several shots.

Mateo and I went back to troweling, the others to sifting and hauling. After an hour I took my turn at the screen. Another hour, and I climbed back down into the well.

The storm held off, and the cistern told its story.

The child had been one of the last lowered into the clandestine grave. Under and around it lay the remains of others. Some badly burned, others barely singed.

By late afternoon seven case numbers had been assigned, and five skulls stared out from a tangle of bones. Three of the victims were adults, at least two were adolescents. Number one was a child. For the others, age estimation was impossible.

At dusk, I made a discovery that will stay with me the rest of my life. For over an hour I'd been working on skeleton number five. I'd exposed the skull and lower jaw and cleared dirt from the vertebrae, ribs, pelvis, and limbs. I'd traced the legs, found the foot bones mingled with those of the person beside.

Skeleton five was female. The orbits lacked heavy ridges, the cheekbones were smooth and slender, the mastoids small. The lower half of the body was enveloped in remnants of a rotted skirt identical to a dozen above my head. A coroded wedding band circled one fragile phalange.

Though the colors were faded and stained, I could make out a pattern in material adhering to the upper torso. Between the arm bones, atop the collapsed rib cage, lay a bundle with a different design. Cautiously, I separated a corner, eased my fingertips underneath, and teased back the outer layer of fabric.

Once, at my Montreal lab, I was asked to examine the contents of a burlap bag found on the shore of an inland lake. From the bag I withdrew several rocks, and bones so fragile at first I thought they were those of a bird. I was wrong. The sack held the remains of three kittens, weighted down and heaved into the water to drown. My disgust was so powerful I had to flee the lab and walk several miles before resuming work.

Inside the bundle clutched by skeleton five, I found an arch of tiny vertebral disks with a miniature rib cage curving around it. Arm and leg bones the size of matches. A minute jaw.

Señora Ch'i'p's infant grandchild.

Among the paper-thin cranial fragments, a 556 projectile, the type fired by an assault rifle.

I remembered how I'd felt at the slaughter of kittens, but this time I felt rage. There were no streets to walk here at the gravesite, no way to work off my anger. I stared at the little bones, trying to picture the man who had pulled the trigger. How could he sleep at night? How could he face people in the day?

At six Mateo gave the order to quit. Up top the air smelled of rain, and veins of lightning pulsated inside heavy, black clouds. The locals had gone.

Moving quickly, we covered the well, stored the equipment we would leave behind, and loaded up that which we would carry. As the team worked, rain began plinking in large, cold drops on the temporary roof above our heads. Amado, the DA's representative, waited with lawn chair folded, face unreadable.

Mateo signed the chain of custody book over to the police guards, then we set off through the corn, winding one behind another like ants on a scent trail. We'd just begun our long, steep climb when the storm broke. Hard, driving rain stung my face and drenched my hair and clothes. Lightning flashed. Thunder boomed. Trees and cornstalks bent in the wind.

Within minutes, water sluiced down the hillside, turning the path into a slick, brown stream of mud. Again and again I lost my footing, hitting hard on one knee, then the other. I crawled upward, right hand clawing at vegetation, left hand dragging a bag of trowels, feet scrambling for traction. Though rain and darkness obscured my vision, I could hear others above and below me. Their hunched forms whitened each time lightning leapt across the sky. My legs trembled, my chest burned.

An eon later I crested the ridge and dragged myself onto the patch of earth where we'd left the vehicles eleven hours earlier. I was placing shovels in the bed of a pickup when Mateo's satellite phone sounded, the ring barely audible above the wind and rain.

"Can someone get that?" Mateo shouted.

Slipping and sliding toward the cab, I grabbed his pack, dug out the handset, and clicked on.

"Tempe Brennan," I shouted.

"Are you still at the site?" English. It was Molly Carraway, my colleague from Minnesota.

"We're just about to pull out. It's raining like hell," I shouted, backhanding water from my eyes.

"It's dry here."

"Where are you?"

"Just outside Sololá. We were late leaving. Listen, we think we're being followed."

"Followed?"

"A black sedan's been on our ass since Guatemala City. Carlos tried a couple of maneuvers to lose it, but the guy's hanging on like a bad cold."

"Can you tell who's driving?"

"Not really. The glass is tinted an — "

I heard a loud thump, a scream, then static, as though the phone had been dropped and was rolling around.

"Jesus Christ!" Carlos's voice was muted by distance.

"Molly?"

I heard agitated words that I couldn't make out.

"Molly, what is it?"

Shouts. Another thump. Scraping. A car horn. A loud crunch. Male voices.

"What's happening?" Alarm raised my voice an octave.

No response.

A shouted command.

"Fuck you!" Carlos.

"Molly! Tell me what's going on!" I was almost screaming. The others had stopped loading to stare at me.

"No!" Molly Carraway spoke from a distant galaxy, her voice small and tinny and filled with panic. "Please. No!"

par

Two muted pops.

Another scream.

Two more pops.

Dead air.

Copyright © 2002 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter 1

"I am dead. They killed me as well."

The old woman's words cut straight to my heart.

"Please tell me what happened that day." Maria spoke so softly I had to strain to catch the Spanish.

"I kissed the little ones and left for market." Eyes down, voice toneless. "I did not know that I would never see them again."

K'akchiquel to Spanish, then reversing the linguistic loop, reversing again as answers followed questions. The translation did nothing to blunt the horror of the recitation.

"When did you return home, Señora Ch'i'p?"

"A que hora regreso usted a su casa, Señora Ch'i'p?"

"Chike ramaj xatzalij pa awachoch, Ixoq Ch'i'p?"

"Late afternoon. I'd sold my beans."

"The house was burning?"

"Yes."

"Your family was inside?"

A nod.

I watched the speakers. An ancient Mayan woman, her middle-aged son, the young cultural anthropologist Maria Paiz, calling up a memory too terrible for words. I felt anger and sorrow clash inside me like the thunderheads building on the horizon.

"What did you do?"

"We buried them in the well. Quickly, before the soldiers came back."

I studied the old woman. Her face was brown corduroy. Her hands were calloused, her long braid more gray than black. Fabric lay folded atop her head, bright reds, pinks, yellows, and blues, woven into patterns older than the mountains around us. One corner rose and fell with the wind.

The woman did not smile. She did not frown. Her eyes met no one's, to my relief. I knew if they lingered on mine even briefly, the transfer of pain would be brutal. Maybe she understood that and averted her gaze to avoid drawingothers into the hell those eyes concealed.

Or perhaps it was distrust. Perhaps the things she had seen made her unwilling to look frankly into unknown faces.

Feeling dizzy, I upended a bucket, sat, and took in my surroundings.

I was six thousand feet up in the western highlands of Guatemala, at the bottom of a steep-sided gorge. The village of Chupan Ya. Between the Mountains. About one hundred and twenty-five kilometers northwest of Guatemala City.

Around me flowed a wide river of green, lush forest interspersed with small fields and garden plots, like islands. Here and there rows of man-made terraces burst through the giant checkerboard, cascading downward like playful waterfalls. Mist clung to the highest peaks, blurring their contours into Monet softness.

I'd rarely seen surroundings so beautiful. The Great Smoky Mountains. The Gatineau, Quebec, under northern lights. The barrier islands off the Carolina coast. Haleakula volcano at dawn. The loveliness of the backdrop made the task at hand even more heartbreaking.

As a forensic anthropologist, it is my job to unearth and study the dead. I identify the burned, the mummified, the decomposed, and the skeletonized who might otherwise go to anonymous graves. Sometimes the identifications are generic, Caucasoid female, mid-twenties. Other times I can confirm a suspected ID. In some cases, I figure out how these people died. Or how their corpses were mutilated.

I am used to the aftermath of death. I am familiar with the smell of it, the sight of it, the idea of it. I have learned to steel myself emotionally in order to practice my profession.

But the old woman was breaking through my determined detachment.

Another wave of vertigo. The altitude, I told myself, lowering my head and breathing deeply.

Though my home bases are North Carolina and Quebec, where I serve as forensic anthropologist to both jurisdictions, I'd volunteered to come to Guatemala for one month as temporary consultant to the Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala. The Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, FAFG, was working to locate and identify the remains of those who vanished during the 1962 to 1996 civil war, one of the bloodiest conflicts in Latin American history.

I'd learned a lot since my arrival one week before. Estimates of the missing ranged from one to two hundred thousand. The bulk of the slaughter was carried out by the Guatemalan army and by paramilitary organizations affiliated with the army. Most of those killed were rural peasants. Many were women and children.

Typically, victims were shot or slashed with machetes. Villages were not always as fortunate as Chupan Ya. There they'd had time to hide their dead. More often, bodies were buried in unmarked mass graves, dumped in rivers, left under the ruins of huts or houses. Families were given no explanations, no lists of those missing, no records. A UN Commission for Historical Clarification referred to these massacres as a genocide of the Mayan people.

Families and neighbors referred to their missing members as the "desaparecidos." The disappeared. The FAFG was trying to find them, or, more accurately, their remains. And I had come to help.

Here in Chupan Ya, soldiers and civil patrollers had entered on an August morning in 1982. Fearing they'd be accused of collaborating with the local guerrilla movement and punished, the men fled. The women were told to gather with their children at designated farms. Trusting, or perhaps fearing, the military, they obeyed. When the soldiers located the women where they'd been sent, they raped them for hours, then killed them along with their kids. Every house in the valley was burned to the ground.

Survivors spoke of five mass graves. Twenty-three women and children were said to lie at the bottom of the well behind Señora Ch'i'p.

The old woman continued her story. Over her shoulder I could see the structure we'd erected three days earlier to protect the well site from rain and sun. Backpacks and camera cases hung from metal uprights, and tarps covered the opening of the pit beneath. Boxes, buckets, shovels, picks, brushes, and storage containers lay as we'd left them early that morning.

Rope had been strung from pole to pole around the excavation to create a boundary between spectators and workers. Inside the restraint sat three idle members of the FAFG team. Outside it stood the villagers who came each day to observe in silence.

And the police guards who'd been told to shut us down.

We'd been close to uncovering evidence when we received the order to halt. The soil had begun yielding ash and cinders. Its color had changed from mahogany to graveyard black. We'd found a child's hair clip in the sifting screen. Fragments of cloth. A tiny sneaker.

Dear God. Did the old woman's family really lie only inches below the point at which we'd stopped?

Five daughters and nine grandchildren. Shot, macheted, and burned in their home together with neighboring women and children. How does one endure such loss? What could life offer her but endless pain?

Shifting my gaze back to the surrounding countryside, I noted half a dozen farmsteads carved out of the foilage. Adobe walls, tile roofs, smoke curling from cooking fires. Each had a dirt yard, outdoor privy, and an emaciated brown dog or two. The wealthier had chickens, a scrawny hog, a bicycle.

Two of Señora Ch'i'p's daughters had lived in the cluster of huts halfway up the eastern escarpment. Another had lived on top, where we'd parked the FAFG vehicles. These women were married; she didn't remember their ages. Their babies were three days, ten months, two, four, and five years old.

Her youngest daughters were still at home. They'd been eleven and thirteen.

Families, connected by a network of footpaths, and by a network of genes. Their world was this valley.

I imagined Señora Ch'i'p returning that day, perhaps descending the same dirt trail our team struggled down each morning and up each evening. She had sold her beans. She was probably happy.

Then horror.

Two decades is not long enough to forget. A lifetime is not long enough.

I wondered how often she thought of them. Did their phantoms walk with her as she trudged to market, following the same course she'd taken the fatal day? Did they slip past the tattered rag covering her window when darkness claimed the valley each night? Did they people her dreams? Did they come to her smiling and laughing as they'd been in life? Or bloodied and charred as she'd found them in death?

My vision blurred, and I dropped my head again, stared at the dirt. How was it possible for human beings to do that to other human beings? To helpless and unresisting women and children? In the distance, I heard the rumble of thunder.

Seconds, maybe years later, the interview stopped, an untranslated question left dangling in space. When I looked up Maria and her interpreter had shifted their attention to the hill behind me. Señora Ch'i'p remained focused on her sandals, hand to cheek, fingers curled like a newborn's.

"Mateo's back," said Elena Norvillo, an FAFG member from the El Petén region. I turned as she pushed to her feet. The rest of the team observed from under the tent.

Two men were working their way down one of the many footpaths that meandered through the gorge, the leader in blue windbreaker, faded jeans, brown cap. Though I couldn't read them from where I sat, I knew the letters above his brim said FAFG. The six of us waiting wore identical caps. The man following was suited and tied and carried a collapsible chair.

We watched the pair pick their way through scraggly corn surrounded by a half dozen subsidiary crops, careful to damage nothing. A bean seedling. A potato plant. Minor to us, but critical food or income to the family that owned it.

When they drew within twenty yards, Elena shouted.

"Did you get it?"

Mateo gave a thumbs-up.

The injunction to suspend excavation had come from a local magistrate. According to his interpretation of the exhumation order, no work was to proceed outside the presence of a judge, the Guatemalan equivalent of a district attorney. Visiting early this morning and finding no judge on site, the magistrate had ordered digging halted. Mateo had gone to Guatemala City to have this ruling overturned.

Mateo led his companion directly to the two uniformed guards, members of the National Civil Police, and produced a document. The older cop shifted the strap of his semiautomatic, took the paper and read, head down, shiny black bill reflecting the dimming afternoon light. His partner stood with foot thrust forward, a bored expression on his face.

After a brief exchange with the suited visitor, the senior cop returned the order to Mateo and nodded.

The villagers watched, silent but curious, as Juan, Luis, and Rosa stood and exchanged high fives. Mateo and his companion joined them at the well. Elena followed.

Crossing to the tent, I glanced again at Señora Ch'i'p and her adult son. The man was scowling, hatred seeping from every pore. Hatred for whom? I wondered. For those who had butchered his family? For those who had come from a different world to disturb their bones? For distant authorities who would block even that small effort? For himself for having survived that day? His mother stood woodenly, face impassive.

Mateo introduced the suited man as Roberto Amado, a representative from the judge/district attorney's office. The Guatemala City judge had ruled that Amado's presence would satisfy the requirements of the exhumation order. Amado would be with us for the duration, observing and recording in order to validate the quality of work for the court.

Amado shook hands with each of us, moved to a corner of the covered area, unfolded his chair, and sat. Mateo began issuing orders.

"Luis, Rosa, please sift. Tempe and I will dig. Juan, haul dirt. We'll rotate as needed."

Mateo had a small, V-shaped scar on his upper lip that broadened into a U whenever he smiled. Today, the V remained narrow as a spike.

"Elena, document and photograph. Skeletal inventory, artifact inventory, photo log. Every molecule goes on record."

"Where are Carlos and Molly?" asked Elena.

Carlos Menzes was a member of an Argentine human rights organization who'd been advising the FAFG since its formation in 1992. Molly Carraway was an archaeologist newly arrived from Minnesota.

"They're driving the other truck out here for transport. We'll need another vehicle when we're ready to leave with all the equipment and artifacts."

He glanced at the sky.

"The storm is two hours off, maybe three if we're lucky. Let's find these people before there's more legal bullshit."

As I collected trowels and placed them in a bucket tied to a length of rope, Mateo zipped the court order into his pack and hung it over a crossbar. His eyes and hair were black, his body a fire hydrant, short and thick. Tubes of muscle bulged in his neck and arms as he and Luis flung back the tarps covering the mouth of the excavation.

Mateo placed a boot on the first of the dirt steps we'd terraced into a pit wall. Edges crumbled, sending dirt two meters to the floor below. The cascading particles made soft, ticking sounds as Mateo slowly climbed down.

When he reached bottom, I lowered the bucket, then zipped my windbreaker. Three days had taught me well. May was pleasant in the highlands, but underground the clammy cold knifed straight to your marrow. I'd left Chupan Ya each evening chilled through, my digits numb.

I descended as Mateo had done, placing my feet sideways, testing each makeshift tread. My pulse accelerated as the gloom closed around me.

Mateo held up a hand and I took it. Stepping off the last riser, I stood in a hole no more than six feet square. The walls and floor were slick, the air dank and rotten.

My heart thumped below my sternum. A bead of sweat raced down the furrow overlying my spine.

Always in narrow, dark places.

I turned from Mateo, pretended to clean my trowel. My hands trembled.

Closing my eyes, I fought past the claustrophobia. I thought of my daughter. Katy as a toddler. Katy at the University of Virginia. Katy at the beach. I pictured my cat, Birdie. My townhouse in Charlotte. My condo in Montreal.

I played the game. First song to pop into my mind. Neil Young. "Harvest Moon." I ran through the lyrics.

My breathing eased. My heart slowed.

I opened my eyes and checked my watch. Fifty-seven seconds. Not as good as yesterday. Better than Tuesday. Much better than Monday.

Mateo was already on his knees, scraping the damp earth. I moved to the opposite corner of the pit, and for the next twenty minutes we worked in silence, troweling, inspecting the ground, scooping dirt into buckets.

Objects emerged with increasing frequency. A shard of glass. A chunk of metal. Charred wood. Elena bagged and recorded each item.

Noise reached us from the world above. Banter. A request. The bark of a dog. Now and then I'd glance up, unconsciously reassuring my id.

Faces peered down. Men in gaucho hats, women in traditional Mayan weaves, toddlers clinging to their skirts. Babies stared with round, black eyes, secured to their mothers by rainbow textiles. I saw a hundred variations on high cheekbones, black hair, sienna skin.

On one upward glance I noticed a little girl, arms above her head, fingers curled around the restraining rope. Typical kid. Chubby cheeks, dirty feet, ponytails.

A stab of pain.

The child was the same age as one of Señora Ch'i'p's granddaughters. Her hair was bound with barrettes identical to the one we'd found in the screen.

I smiled. She turned her face and pressed it to her mother's legs. A brown hand reached down and stroked her head.

According to witnesses, the hole in which we worked had been intended as a cistern. Begun but never completed, it was hastily transformed into an unmarked grave on the night of the massacre.

A grave for people identical to those keeping vigil above.

Fury swirled in me as I resumed digging.

Focus, Brennan. Channel your outrage to uncover evidence. Do that which you are able to do.

Ten minutes later my trowel touched something hard. Laying the implement aside, I cleared mud with my fingers.

The object was slender, like a pencil, with an angled neck ending in a corrugated upper surface. Above the neck, a tiny cap. Surrounding neck and cap, a circular cup.

I sat back on my heels and studied my find. A femur and pelvis. The hip of a child no older than two.

I looked up, and my gaze met that of the little girl. Again she whipped away. But this time she turned back, peeked through the folds of her mother's skirt, smiled shyly.

Sweet Jesus in heaven.

Tears burned the back of my lids.

"Mateo."

I pointed at the little bones. Mateo crawled to my corner.

Along most of its length, the femur was mottled gray and black from exposure to fire and smoke. The distal end was crumbly white, suggesting more intense burning.

For a moment neither of us spoke. Then Mateo crossed himself and said in a low voice, "We've got them."

When Mateo stood and repeated the phrase, the entire team gathered at the edge of the well.

A fleeting thought. We've got whom, Mateo? We've got the victims, not the assassins. What chance is there that any of these government-sanctioned butchers will ever face charges, let alone be punished?

Elena tossed down a camera, then a plastic marker stamped with the numeral "1." I positioned the case number and took several shots.

Mateo and I went back to troweling, the others to sifting and hauling. After an hour I took my turn at the screen. Another hour, and I climbed back down into the well.

The storm held off, and the cistern told its story.

The child had been one of the last lowered into the clandestine grave. Under and around it lay the remains of others. Some badly burned, others barely singed.

By late afternoon seven case numbers had been assigned, and five skulls stared out from a tangle of bones. Three of the victims were adults, at least two were adolescents. Number one was a child. For the others, age estimation was impossible.

At dusk, I made a discovery that will stay with me the rest of my life. For over an hour I'd been working on skeleton number five. I'd exposed the skull and lower jaw and cleared dirt from the vertebrae, ribs, pelvis, and limbs. I'd traced the legs, found the foot bones mingled with those of the person beside.

Skeleton five was female. The orbits lacked heavy ridges, the cheekbones were smooth and slender, the mastoids small. The lower half of the body was enveloped in remnants of a rotted skirt identical to a dozen above my head. A coroded wedding band circled one fragile phalange.

Though the colors were faded and stained, I could make out a pattern in material adhering to the upper torso. Between the arm bones, atop the collapsed rib cage, lay a bundle with a different design. Cautiously, I separated a corner, eased my fingertips underneath, and teased back the outer layer of fabric.

Once, at my Montreal lab, I was asked to examine the contents of a burlap bag found on the shore of an inland lake. From the bag I withdrew several rocks, and bones so fragile at first I thought they were those of a bird. I was wrong. The sack held the remains of three kittens, weighted down and heaved into the water to drown. My disgust was so powerful I had to flee the lab and walk several miles before resuming work.

Inside the bundle clutched by skeleton five, I found an arch of tiny vertebral disks with a miniature rib cage curving around it. Arm and leg bones the size of matches. A minute jaw.

Señora Ch'i'p's infant grandchild.

Among the paper-thin cranial fragments, a 556 projectile, the type fired by an assault rifle.

I remembered how I'd felt at the slaughter of kittens, but this time I felt rage. There were no streets to walk here at the gravesite, no way to work off my anger. I stared at the little bones, trying to picture the man who had pulled the trigger. How could he sleep at night? How could he face people in the day?

At six Mateo gave the order to quit. Up top the air smelled of rain, and veins of lightning pulsated inside heavy, black clouds. The locals had gone.

Moving quickly, we covered the well, stored the equipment we would leave behind, and loaded up that which we would carry. As the team worked, rain began plinking in large, cold drops on the temporary roof above our heads. Amado, the DA's representative, waited with lawn chair folded, face unreadable.

Mateo signed the chain of custody book over to the police guards, then we set off through the corn, winding one behind another like ants on a scent trail. We'd just begun our long, steep climb when the storm broke. Hard, driving rain stung my face and drenched my hair and clothes. Lightning flashed. Thunder boomed. Trees and cornstalks bent in the wind.

Within minutes, water sluiced down the hillside, turning the path into a slick, brown stream of mud. Again and again I lost my footing, hitting hard on one knee, then the other. I crawled upward, right hand clawing at vegetation, left hand dragging a bag of trowels, feet scrambling for traction. Though rain and darkness obscured my vision, I could hear others above and below me. Their hunched forms whitened each time lightning leapt across the sky. My legs trembled, my chest burned.

An eon later I crested the ridge and dragged myself onto the patch of earth where we'd left the vehicles eleven hours earlier. I was placing shovels in the bed of a pickup when Mateo's satellite phone sounded, the ring barely audible above the wind and rain.

"Can someone get that?" Mateo shouted.

Slipping and sliding toward the cab, I grabbed his pack, dug out the handset, and clicked on.

"Tempe Brennan," I shouted.

"Are you still at the site?" English. It was Molly Carraway, my colleague from Minnesota.

"We're just about to pull out. It's raining like hell," I shouted, backhanding water from my eyes.

"It's dry here."

"Where are you?"

"Just outside Sololá. We were late leaving. Listen, we think we're being followed."

"Followed?"

"A black sedan's been on our ass since Guatemala City. Carlos tried a couple of maneuvers to lose it, but the guy's hanging on like a bad cold."

"Can you tell who's driving?"

"Not really. The glass is tinted an -- "

I heard a loud thump, a scream, then static, as though the phone had been dropped and was rolling around.

"Jesus Christ!" Carlos's voice was muted by distance.

"Molly?"

I heard agitated words that I couldn't make out.

"Molly, what is it?"

Shouts. Another thump. Scraping. A car horn. A loud crunch. Male voices.

"What's happening?" Alarm raised my voice an octave.

No response.

A shouted command.

"Fuck you!" Carlos.

"Molly! Tell me what's going on!" I was almost screaming. The others had stopped loading to stare at me.

"No!" Molly Carraway spoke from a distant galaxy, her voice small and tinny and filled with panic. "Please. No!"

Two muted pops.

Another scream.

Two more pops.

Dead air.

Copyright © 2002 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 149 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 151 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    OH MY GOD!

    I loved this book mainly of 2 reasons! 1. The love interest. and 2. The action & science! This book was so far my favortie, next to Cross Bones. I screamed so loud at the ending my family looked at me like "Are you high or something?" It was so amazing!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fantastic crime thriller

    Between the years of 1962-1996, Guatemala was involved in a bloody civil war and many of the peasants who were thought to be rebels were killed or disappeared. In the present, the government is now sending in forensic teams to find and identify the victims so they can be given a proper burial. Dr. Temperance Brennan, a famous forensic anthropologist, is one of the members who are trying to sort out the body parts on the site of a massacre. <P>While doing her work, she is asked by an honest policeman to examine the body of a woman who was found in a septic tank. It seems that in the past few months, four young women have gone missing and the authorities fear they have a serial killer on their hands. While working the case, Temperance finds herself in danger from an unexpected source and only a miracle will save her life. <P>Kathy Reichs is a fantastic writer of crime thrillers and her latest work GRAVE SECRETS is even better than usual because of its locations. Based on facts and true events, readers get an inside look at a Central American country where genocide on the local people occurred for more than three decades. Temperance is the kind of heroine most women aspires to be. <P>Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    Not the best in the series but worth the read

    Many of the same themes are recycled from other Brennan books making this book feel familiar. It was a qiuick read and didn't have many surprises.
    There were some very detailed descriptions behind the science of DNA and stem cells that were interesting but felt a bit like a high school science report.
    Brennan's internal dialogue about the three men in her life was a disjointed counterpoint to the search for the villian in this one as well.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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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 straight on through! You won't regret it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Favorite in the series so far

    I started the Tempe novels less than a month ago, and I'm currently reading 206 Bones. This one has been my favorite out of all of them. It is the perfect mixture of emotion and science. If you liked any of the other books at all, you should definitely read this one.

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  • Posted January 5, 2014

    must read list

    loved the book, but hard for Brennan to lose her friend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Solid story

    I have been reading these in order and although this is not the best one so far, it has a solid story and is a good read. It introduces a new love interest for Dr Brennan, but never really goes anywhere with him or Detective Ryan. Also, the characters of the investigation don't really get explored like in the previous stories. All in all worth a read if you like this series but I wouldn't recommend starting with this one. On to #6...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2011

    Too little book......

    The book cost too much for 200 plus pages. Disappointed!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Grave Secrets, PAGE TURNER action filled Drama!

    This is the 5th book in the series and one of my favorites! Kathy Reichs makes me feel like I know Tempe and I relate to her love hate relationship with Ryan. This book is filled with forensics and cop fighting drama, which is just as good as the first, second, third and fourth! I highly recommend reading this series. The Character twists are always exciting, never knowing who the bad guy is until the last few chapters keeps everything very intense. Thank you Kathy for creating a fun, action packed, flirty, forensically filled, dramatic books that I have every gotten the chance to enjoy!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Review for Grave Secrets (Temperance Brennan Series #5)- Kathy Reichs

    This book was a little hard getting into at first but it soon picked up and it was a very good book overall. It got straight to the action and I could probably read it again in a year or less. I reccommend this book to people who are into murders and mystery or even those CSI shows.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2009

    grave secrets

    I have all of Kathy Reichs bones books so far I am only up to grave secrets. I think her writing is outstanding. Maybe it is because I have been a surgical nurse for 41 years that I understand everything she writes. I think all her books are great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2006

    This was terrible

    This book was supposed to be a page turner, but after reading about 225 pages of it, I turned away from it and never finished. There is too much medical jargon in this story, which lost me completely. The plot was weak and poorly developed. This is the first book I read by this author and it will definitely be the last.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2003

    Contemporary political issues mar a potentially good read

    Historical crimes & contemporary political issues don't mix in Dr. Kathy Reichs' GRAVE SECRETS. The findings about the remains in the septic tank were unexpected and seemed to veer off in a different direction than the beginning of the novel. I hope her latest, BARE BONES, will fare better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2003

    Grave Secrets Deadly Boring

    The point of a thriller is to keep the reader turning the pages. Fatal Voyage and Deja Dead did just that. Grave Secrets however is a sprawling mess. Too many characters to follow, too many red herrings, and a formulaic sequence of events add up to a story that is not compelling. Devoted fans of Reichs' writing may still enjoy this latest work for its forensic detail, but to first time readers I recommend her earlier books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2002

    Lots of Forensic details

    GRAVE SECRETS AUTHOR: Kathy Reichs PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster REVIEWED BY: Barbara Rhoades BOOK REVIEW: Kathy Reichs¿ character, Tempe Brennan, is back in another forensic anthropology tale. This time Tempe is in Guatemala to investigate what happened at Chupan Ya. While this is where the story starts, there are many side stories in ¿Grave Secrets¿. The listener needs to pay attention to every detail or he/she will lose track of what is going on. The atrocities that were inflicted on the women and children of this village by soldiers are unthinkable. The people of the village want to know if any of the victims are their family members. Ms. Reichs also give extremely detailed forensic information in this book. Her others books with Tempe as the character have given forensic information but this time, she has given much more intense descriptions of the workings of forensic anthropology. These details make for added realism. One of the side stories concerns the disappearance of an ambassador¿s daughter along with three other girls. Remains are found in a septic tank and Tempe just happens to be an expert in recovering remains from such a place. Another story is about the killing of one and the wounding of another of Tempe¿s colleagues on the Chupan Ya diggings. Then, of course, Andrew Ryan is a part of the story as Tempe¿s love interest. Then to make matters all the more juicy, Bartolomé Galiano, a Guatemalan investigator, becomes yet another love interest who just happens to have gone to school with Andrew and is looking into the disappearance of the girls. Do any of these stories tie together? Do they all tie together? To get the answer, read ¿Grave Secrets¿.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2002

    Reichs digs up a gem

    In her latest thriller Kathy Reichs presents a tight well-thought out story of political and anthropological suspense. Based on actual history she gives her characters a believability that few authors can match. We feel their loss and their pain over the massacre of loved ones and their frustration at a system that victimizes them again. In her search for the truth Dr. Brennan finds out some truths about herself. A wonderful read sure to provide hours of enjoyment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2002

    Not her best work

    The indepth details in this novel read like a medical text book. Her other works were more enjoyable.I read mysteries for pleasure - this was painful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    quality time/quality reading

    Once more I was not disappointed by Ms. Reichs. Her charcters are maturing along with her writting, each book being more enjoyable than the last. I am already looking forward to the next installment and Tempe's next adventure in crime as well as romance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    AN A-ONE READING OF REICHS

    With numerous film, television and stage appearances to her credit veteran actress Katherine Borowitz knows how to deliver - and deliver she does in her reading of Kathy Reichs's fifth novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. This time out we find Tempe in Guatemala where she is assisting in exhuming a mass grave, the final resting place of women and children who were raped and slain by soldiers during a 1982 attack on their village. No one knows for certain who is in the grave; no records were kept. To the families of those missing their loved ones have simply disappeared. Meanwhile, in Guatemala City, where four young women have been reported missing recently, remains are found in a septic tank. Could those remains be the Canadian Ambassador's daughter? Tempe is asked for help by the Guatemalan police. But as she investigates further she finds herself almost trapped in a web of crime and coverup. As always, Reichs, who is a forensic anthropologist herself, laces her suspenseful tale with authentic medical description. The author's expertise simply makes her stories more shudderingly real. Reichs tops the list in her genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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