New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs’s Break No Bones is now available on audio for only $14.99.
The inspiration for the hit Fox series Bones, Kathy Reichs explores another high-stakes crime from today’s headlines—in a case that lands forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan in the middle of a gruesome international scheme. Summoned to South Carolina to fill in for a negligent colleague, Tempe is stuck teaching at a lackluster archeology field school in the ruins of a Native American burial ground on the Charleston shore. But when Tempe stumbles upon a fresh skeleton among the ancient bones, her old friend Emma Rousseaus, the local coroner, persuades Tempe to stay on and help with the investigation. When Emma reveals a disturbing secret, it becomes more important than ever for Tempe to help her friend close the case.
The body count begins to climb. Tempe follows the trail to a free street clinic with a belligerent staff, a suspicious doctor, and a donor who is a charismatic televangelist. Clues abound in the most unlikely places as Tempe uses her unique knowledge and skills to build her case, even as the local sheriff remains dubious and her own life is threatened.
About the Author
Kathy Reichs, like her character Temperance Brennan, is a forensic anthropologist, formerly for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and currently for the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale for the province of Quebec. A professor in the department of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she is one of only seventy-nine forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, is past Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and serves on the National Police Services Advisory Board in Canada. Reichs’s first book, Déja Dead, catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel.
Hometown:Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Québec
Place of Birth:Chicago, Illinois
Education:B.A., American University, 1971; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University
Read an Excerpt
Break No BonesA Novel
By Kathy Reichs
ScribnerCopyright © 2006 Temperance Brennan, L.P.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNever fails. You're wrapping up the operation when someone blunders onto the season's big score.
OK. I'm exaggerating. But it's damn close to what happened. And the final outcome was far more disturbing than any last-minute discovery of a potsherd or hearth.
It was May 18, the second-to-the-last day of the archaeological field school. I had twenty students digging a site on Dewees, a barrier island north of Charleston, South Carolina.
I also had a journalist. With the IQ of plankton.
"Sixteen bodies?" Plankton pulled a spiral notebook as his brain strobed visions of Dahmer and Bundy. "Vics ID'd?"
"The graves are prehistoric."
Two eyes rolled up, narrowed under puffy lids. "Old Indians?"
"They got me covering dead Indians?" No political correctness prize for this guy.
"The Moultrie News. The East Cooper community paper."
Charleston, as Rhett told Scarlett, is a city marked by the genial grace of days gone by. Its heart is the Peninsula, a district of antebellum homes, cobbled streets, and outdoor markets bounded by the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Charlestonians define their turf by these waterways. Neighborhoods are referred to as "West Ashley" or "East Cooper," the latterincluding Mount Pleasant, and three islands, Sullivan's, the Isle of Palms, and Dewees. I assumed plankton's paper covered that beat.
"And you are?" I asked.
With his five-o'clock shadow and fast food paunch, the guy looked more like Homer Simpson.
"We're busy here, Mr. Winborne."
Winborne ignored that. "Isn't it illegal?"
"We have a permit. The island's being developed, and this little patch is slated for home sites."
"Why bother?" Sweat soaked Winborne's hairline. When he reached for a hanky, I noticed a tick cruising his collar.
"I'm an anthropologist on faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. My students and I are here at the request of the state."
Though the first bit was true, the back end was a stretch. Actually, it happened like this.
UNCC's New World archaeologist normally conducted a student excavation during the short presummer term each May. In late March of this year, the lady had announced her acceptance of a position at Purdue. Busy sending out resumes throughout the winter, she'd ignored the field school. Sayonara. No instructor. No site.
Though my specialty is forensics, and I now work with the dead sent to coroners and medical examiners, my graduate training and early professional career were devoted to the not so recently deceased. For my doctoral research I'd examined thousands of prehistoric skeletons recovered from North American burial mounds.
The field school is one of the Anthropology Department's most popular courses, and, as usual, was enrolled to capacity. My colleague's unexpected departure sent the chair into a panic. He begged that I take over. The students were counting on it! A return to my roots! Two weeks at the beach! Extra pay! I thought he was going to throw in a Buick.
I'd suggested Dan Jaffer, a bioarchaeologist and my professional counterpart with the medical examiner/coroner system in the great Palmetto State to our south. I pleaded possible cases at the ME office in Charlotte, or at the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de medecine legale in Montreal, the two agencies for which I regularly consult.
The chair gave it a shot. Good idea, bad timing. Dan Jaffer was on his way to Iraq.
I'd contacted Jaffer and he'd suggested Dewees as an excavation possibility. A burial ground was slated for destruction, and he'd been trying to forestall the bulldozers until the site's significance could be ascertained. Predictably, the developer was ignoring his requests.
I'd contacted the Office of the State Archaeologist in Columbia, and on Dan's recommendation they'd accepted my offer to dig some test trenches, thereby greatly displeasing the developer.
And here I was. With twenty undergraduates. And, on our thirteenth and penultimate day, plankton-brain.
My patience was fraying like an overused rope.
"Name?" Winborne might have been asking about grass seed.
I fought back the urge to walk away. Give him what he wants, I told myself. He'll leave. Or, with luck, die from the heat.
Winborne shrugged. "Don't hear that name so much."
"I'm called Tempe."
"Like the town in Utah."
"Right. What kind of Indians?"
"How'd you know stuff was here?"
"Through a colleague at USC-Columbia."
"How'd he know?"
"He spotted small mounds while doing a survey after the news of an impending development was announced."
Winborne took a moment to make notes in his spiral. Or maybe he was buying time to come up with his idea of an insightful question. In the distance I could hear student chatter and the clatter of buckets. Overhead, a gull cawed and another answered.
"Mounds?" No one was going to short-list this guy for a Pulitzer.
"Following closure of the graves, shells and sand were heaped on top."
"What's the point in digging them up?"
That was it. I hit the little cretin with the interview terminator. Jargon.
"Burial customs aren't well known for aboriginal Southeastern coastal populations, and this site could substantiate or refute ethnohistoric accounts. Many anthropologists believe the Sewee were part of the Cusabo group. According to some sources, Cusabo funerary practices involved defleshing of the corpse, then placement of the bones in bundles or boxes. Others describe the scaffolding of bodies to allow decomposition prior to burial in common graves."
"Holy crap. That's gross."
"More so than draining the blood from a corpse and replacing it with chemical preservatives, injecting waxes and perfumes and applying makeup to simulate life, then interring in airtight coffins and vaults to forestall decay?"
Winborne looked at me as though I'd spoken Sanskrit. "Who does that?"
"So what are you finding?"
"Just bones?" The tick was now crawling up Winborne's neck. Give a heads-up? Screw it. The guy was irritating as hell.
I launched into my standard cop and coroner spiel. "The skeleton paints a story of an individual. Sex. Age. Height. Ancestry. In certain cases, medical history or manner of death." Pointedly glancing at my watch, I followed with my archaeological shtick. "Ancient bones are a source of information on extinct populations. How people lived, how they died, what they ate, what diseases they suffered -"
Winborne's gaze drifted over my shoulder. I turned.
Topher Burgess was approaching, various forms of organic and inorganic debris pasted to his sunburned torso. Short and plump, with knit cap, wire rims, and muttonchop sideburns, the kid reminded me of an undergraduate Smee.
"Odd one intruding into three-east."
I waited, but Topher didn't elaborate. Not surprising. On exams, Topher's essays often consisted of single-sentence answers. Illustrated.
"Odd?" I coaxed.
A complete sentence. Gratifying, but not enlightening. I curled my fingers in a "give me more" gesture.
"We're thinking intrusive." Topher shifted his weight from one bare foot to another. It was a lot to shift.
"I'll check it out in a minute."
Topher nodded, turned, and trudged back to the excavation.
"What's that mean, 'articulated'?" The tick had reached Winborne's ear and appeared to be considering alternate routes.
"In proper anatomical alignment. It's uncommon with secondary burials, corpses put into the ground after loss of the flesh. The bones are usually jumbled, sometimes in clumps. Occasionally in these communal graves one or two skeletons will be articulated."
"Could be a lot of reasons. Maybe someone died immediately before closure of a common pit. Maybe the group was moving on, didn't have time to wait out decomposition."
A full ten seconds of scribbling, during which the tick moved out of sight.
"Intrusive. What's that mean?"
"A body was placed in the grave later. Would you like a closer look?"
"It's what I'm living for." Putting hanky to forehead, Winborne sighed as if he were onstage.
I crumbled. "There's a tick in your collar."
Winborne moved faster than it seemed possible for a man of his bulk to move, yanking his collar, doubling over, and batting his neck in one jerk. The tick flew to the sand and righted itself, apparently used to rejection.
I set off, skirting clusters of sea oats, their tasseled heads motionless in the heavy air. Only May, and already the mercury was hitting ninety. Though I love the Lowcountry, I was glad I wouldn't be digging here into the summer.
I moved quickly, knowing Winborne wouldn't keep up. Mean? Yes. But time was short. I had none to waste on a dullard reporter.
And I was conscience-clear on the tick.
Some student's boom-box pounded out a tune I didn't recognize by a group whose name I didn't know and wouldn't remember if told. I'd have preferred seabirds and surf, though today's selections were better than the heavy metal the kids usually blasted.
Waiting for Winborne, I scanned the excavation. Two test trenches had already been dug and refilled. The first had yielded nothing but sterile soil. The second had produced human bone, early vindication of Jaffer's suspicions.
Three other trenches were still open. At each, students worked trowels, hauled buckets, and sifted earth through mesh screens resting on sawhorse supports.
Topher was shooting pictures at the easternmost trench. The rest of his team sat cross-legged, eyeing the focus of his interest.
Winborne joined me on the cusp between panting and gasping. Mopping his forehead, he fought for breath.
"Hot day," I said.
Winborne nodded, face the color of raspberry sherbet.
I was moving toward Topher when Winborne's voice stopped me.
"We got company."
Turning, I saw a man in a pink Polo shirt and khaki pants hurrying across, not around, the dunes. He was small, almost child-size, with silver-gray hair buzzed to the scalp. I recognized him instantly. Richard L. "Dickie" Dupree, entrepreneur, developer, and all-around sleaze.
Dupree was accompanied by a basset whose tongue and belly barely cleared the ground.
First a journalist, now Dupree. This day was definitely heading for the scrap heap.
Ignoring Winborne, Dupree bore down on me with the determined self-righteousness of a Taliban mullah. The basset hung back to squirt a clump of sea oats.
We've all heard of personal space, that blanket of nothing we need between ourselves and others. For me, the zone is eighteen inches. Break in, I get edgy.
Some strangers crowd up close because of vision or hearing. Others, because of differing cultural mores. Not Dickie. Dupree believed nearness lent him greater force of expression.
Stopping a foot from my face, Dupree crossed his arms and squinted up into my eyes.
"Y'all be finishing tomorrow, I expect." More statement than question.
"We will." I stepped back.
"And then?" Dupree's face was birdlike, the bones sharp under pink, translucent skin.
"I'll file a preliminary report with the Office of the State Archaeologist next week."
The basset wandered over and started sniffing my leg. It looked to be at least eighty years old.
"Colonel, don't be rude with the little lady." To me. "Colonel's getting on. Forgets his manners."
The little lady scratched Colonel behind one mangy ear.
"Shame to disappoint folks because of a buncha ole Indians." Dupree smiled what he no doubt considered his "Southern gentleman" smile. Probably practiced it in the mirror while clipping his nose hairs.
"Many view this country's heritage as something valuable," I said.
"Can't let these things stop progress, though, can we?"
I did not reply.
"You do understand my position, ma'am?"
"Yes, sir. I do."
I abhorred Dupree's position. His goal was money, earned by any means that wouldn't get him indicted. Screw the rain forest, the wetlands, the seashore, the dunes, the culture that was here when the English arrived. Dickie Dupree would implode the Temple of Artemis if it stood where he wanted to slap up condos.
Behind us, Winborne had gone still. I knew he was listening.
"And what might this fine document say?" Another Sheriff of Mayberry smile.
"That this area is underlain by a pre-Columbian burial ground."
Dupree's smile wavered, held. Sensing tension, or perhaps bored, Colonel abandoned me for Winborne. I wiped my hand on my cutoffs.
"You know those folks up in Columbia well as I do. A report of that nature will shut me down for some time. That delay will cost me money."
"An archaeological site is a nonrenewable cultural resource. Once it's gone, it's gone forever. I can't in good conscience allow your needs to influence my findings, Mr. Dupree."
The smile dissolved, and Dupree eyed me coldly.
"We'll just have to see about that." The veiled threat was little softened by the gentle, Lowcountry drawl.
"Yes, sir. We will."
Pulling a pack of Kools from his pocket, Dupree cupped a hand and lit up. Chucking the match, he drew deeply, nodded, and started back toward the dunes, Colonel waddling at his heels.
"Mr. Dupree," I called after him.
Dupree stopped, but didn't turn to face me.
"It's environmentally irresponsible to walk on dunes."
Flicking a wave, Dupree continued on his way.
Anger and loathing rose in my chest.
"Dickie not your choice for Man of the Year?"
I turned. Winborne was unwrapping a stick of Juicy Fruit. I watched him put the gum in his mouth, daring with my eyes that he toss the paper as Dupree had tossed his match.
He got the message.
Wordlessly, I hooked a one-eighty and walked to three-east. I could hear Winborne scrabbling along behind me.
The students fell silent when I joined them. Eight eyes followed as I hopped down into the trench. Topher handed me a trowel. I squatted, and was enveloped by the smell of freshly turned earth.
And something else. Sweet. Fetid. Faint, but undeniable.
An odor that shouldn't be there.
My stomach tightened.
Dropping to all fours, I examined Topher's oddity, a segment of vertebral column curving outward from halfway up the western wall.
Above me, students threw out explanations.
"We were cleaning up the sides, you know, so we could, like, take photos of the stratigraphy."
"We spotted stained soil."
Topher added some brief detail.
I wasn't listening. I was troweling, creating a profile view of the burial lying to the west of the trench. With each scrape my apprehension was heading north.
Thirty minutes of work revealed a spine and upper pelvic rim.
I sat back, a tingle of dread crawling my scalp.
The bones were connected by muscle and ligament.
As I stared, the first fly buzzed in, sun iridescent on its emerald body.
Rising, I brushed dirt from my knees. I had to get to a phone.
Dickie Dupree had a lot more to worry about than the ancient Sewee.
Excerpted from Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs Copyright © 2006 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I always enjoy Kathy Reichs books and this one is no exception. Interesting plot and just enough technical information to inform, but not overwhelm.
Temperence Brennan, forensic anthropologist, is leading a student excavation on one of the barrier islands when she finds a not so ancient body. She is soon beset with more bodies,her unfaithful, estranged husband and her Canadian boyfriend. Another good read from Kathy Reichs
I enjoyed the book. It was less intence then some of her others.Worth the read if you are a fan.
In this ninth in the popular series, forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is spending two weeks in May on Dewees, a barrier island north of Charleston, South Carolina, where she is leading a student excavation of a prehistoric site when one of the bodies they find isn't so ancient. After reporting her find to her friend Emma Rousseau, coroner at the Charleston County Coroner's Office, Tempe learns that Emma is ill and unable to investigate; so Tempe fills in for her as a consultant. When another body is found in a different location, the forensic examination of the bones shows a similarity in the manner of death. As Tempe investigates further, another body turns up, leading her to a horrifying conclusion about the motive for these deaths. Complicating matters, Tempe's estranged husband moves into the house she has borrowed, and her boyfriend arrives unexpectedly from Montreal. Tempe must work through her ambivalence about divorcing her unfaithful husband, for whom she still has feelings, but she also cares for her boyfriend. Readers who enjoy Patricia Cornwell's mysteries will appreciate the forensic detail here, and more character-oriented readers will respond to Reichs' likable and well-developed cast, from the local sheriff to Tempe herself, a dedicated woman who feels compelled to provide justice for those who can no longer speak for themselves. An engrossing entry in a widely read series
Brennan uncovers a skeleton and 2 more bodies whose deaths seem to be related. They point back to a fee clinic and their employees. Story was pretty good, narration was not so great.
Based on her real life experiences, Kathy Reichs¿ book series is as realistic as can get. She is Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and was featured number one international best seller on the New York Times list for her debut book, Dejá Dead. So is her ninth book in the series, Break No Bones as intense as the first?Like Patricia Cornwell¿s series or Sarah Andrew¿s series her books are forensic-filled and personal when her books go into the mind of the main character Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who divides her time between Montreal and South Carolina solving murders. While working on an ancient burial in South Carolina a fresh corpse reveals a hidden organ harvesting operation held in a hospital for the homeless and poor. Connecting the dots, analyzing the evidence and asking all the hard questions is what Temperance Brennan and her partner and lover Andrew Ryan do in their work to find the murderer in Break no Bones.As always, Kathy Reichs wrote a phenomenal, intense mass murder story with some flare too. I would rate Break No Bones 4 out of 5 stars, especially for her fans and people who in general love crime shows. For people who also love romance there is some featured in the book too, when Temperance¿s ex-husband, Pete and partner Andrew Ryan fight for her affection. So all in all Break No Bones is a great book and I¿m curious to see what Temperance Brennan will get into next!
Possibly the most disappointing book I've ever read.
I liked this book. However, it was somewhat unrealistic in that Dr. Brennan and boyfriend Andrew Ryan pretty much take over the investigation and the small town, Charleston, SC Sheriff doesn't seem unhappy about their help or interference. But overlooking that small detail, it was a fun read and hard to put down. The story had some good twists and turns and Tempe is trying to figure out and understand her feelings for her estranged husband Pete. So the story is about bones found by Tempe and her students doing an archeological dig in Charleston. These bones are new compared to the Native American graves they have uncovered. These bones lead Brennan into an investigation involving a church-run free clinic and missing homeless people. Meanwhile Pete is hired by a client to look into the financial side of this same church and try to get information about the client's missing daughter, last seen working at the free clinic.
Enjoyed this first experience of a Temperance Brennan Novel. Want to collect her series of novels from the beginning. Bones, the TV show, is a favourite, although I can see it bears little resemblance to the books.
This isn't my favorite in the series, but it is a good read. It's a lot more emotionally invested. Tempe's life is in more than a touch of emotional upheaval, and while I appreciate the character development it was almost a bit of an overload. However, the mystery, as always, was intriguing on multiple levels. And this one actually kept me guessing a bit.
Temperence Brennan is a forensic bone specialist, called upon to identify the remains of several bodies in Charleston, SC area. Her investigation leads her to a list of missing persons and a clinic run by a popular evangelist. Tempe gets help from her estranged husband, her lover who is a homicide dective in Canada, and her friend Emma, the local coroner who is too sick to handle the case on her own. The book is fast paced and entertaining, although not particularly memorable.
easy read. Temperance Brennan is nothing like the TV character with the exception of her profession. The book takes place in Charleston, SC. where temperance in on a dig and discovers a body that does not belong at the site. She works with the local coroner to identify the body and its cause of death. One body turns into two and the mystery gradually unveils itself all the while she is dealing emotionally with her separated husband and boyfriend all temporarily under one roof. It is an easy read; the only trouble I had with the book was Temperance's perception and seeming reality that she as an anthropologist was more capable than the sherrif at puzzling through the who done it portion of the myster; otherwise, it was a good read. She is a character filled with many emotions and she is believable.
I am sure I have read this before but absolutely enjoyed it the 2nd time! Grisly remains at times are found over a reasonably short period of time and Tempe manages to beat the cops at finding out the common link.
Another awesome Reichs read. Always full of details ,twists and turns. Brennan and her students are on an archeological burial ground when they dig up a body in a shallow grave.Upon examining the body, Brennan questions interesting marks on the bones. And the investigation is on.
I didn't like this as much as other Kathy Reichs books, maybe because it was the one book that she didn't base on a specific investigation of hers (my guess). She sets up the questions, then lays out answers that the reader couldn't have figured out from the clues.
Setting: Charleston, South CarolinaProtagonists:Temperance "Tempe" Brennan - forensic anthropologist who generally splits her time between Montreal and Charlotte, North CarolinaAndrew Ryan ¿ Detective with the Major Crimes Division of the Quebec Provincial Police to whom Tempe is attracted and who seems to be pursuing her in spite of the many barriers she erectsPete Peterson, Tempe¿s estranged husbandEmma Rousseau, Charleston County Coroner and old friend of Tempe¿sSheriff Junius Gullet, Charleston County Sheriff and ¿a solid guy¿First Line:"Never fails. You¿re wrapping up the operation when someone blunders onto the season¿s big score."Main Action: Tempe goes to Charleston, S.C. to guide a student dig, then stays on to help her coroner friend, who is too sick to tackle the dead bodies that keep popping up. Though seemingly unrelated, the bodies have similar strange injuries. And why are so many of them homeless, prostitutes, or others who might cause less notice if missing? Both Pete and Andy help Tempe crack the mystery.Main Theme: The murder mystery is actually a side show for Tempe¿s personal struggles between her old feelings for Pete and new feelings for Andy, both of whom are in Charlestown with her.Subtheme: A suspect claims he heals bones; he breaks no bones.Bonus Aspect: Tempe shares her learning process about anthropological forensics with the reader. In this story, we learn all about what the presence of moisture can do to a body after death.Verdict: Not her best, and the attempts at cliff-hanger chapter endings can be a little much, but you come away from it having learned something, and having been moderately entertained.(JAF)
Read this in 2011 after finding 3 of Reichs books at a thrift and buying then reading outof sequence I relized I had to read them all in order! I just love Kathy reichs books!
Requires great suspension of disbelief to swallow the idea of Tempe (a forensic anthropologist from Charlotte), Ryan (her detective boyfriend from Quebec), and Pete (her estranged husband, a lawyer) solving murders in Charleston. Hello, jurisdiction?And a shoutout to my librarian friends - you might find it annoying that Tempe searches in vain for a journal article online, and then suddenly her hindbrain reminds her where to find it (conveniently, in a book in her living room). A woman with a PhD can't use a database? Gah.Criticism aside, this is a good example of the series. Fun, quick, some red herrings to keep it from being *too* easy for the reader to solve.
This was my 2nd (3rd attempt) at trying to read one of her books. The writing is not interesting, and the mystery was merely okay. The TV show surpasses the books in writing and characterization.
Temperance Brennan is back in this taught thriller. Working a summer teaching job on the shores of South Carolina, Brennan finds herself in the middle when bodies keep turning up, each connected to the previous. After being disappointed with Cross Bones, I am pleased to find Break No Bones as good as the previous books. Another solid entry in the Brennan series.
This is the first book I read by this author and it is good.
This is her best yet. Know that you can't put this down.