Cross Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #8)

Cross Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #8)

Audiobook(CD - Unabridged)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743544368
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 06/28/2005
Series: Temperance Brennan Series , #8
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 10
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 5.87(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kathy Reichs is the author of nineteen New York Times bestselling novels and the coauthor, with her son, Brendan Reichs, of six novels for young adults. Like the protagonist of her Temperance Brennan series, Reichs is a forensic anthropologist—one of fewer than one hundred and fifteen ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. A professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she is a former vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and serves on the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. Reichs’s own life, as much as her novels, is the basis for the TV show Bones, one of the longest-running series in the history of the Fox network.

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

Chapter One

Following an Easter dinner of ham, peas, and creamed potatoes, Charles "Le Cowboy" Bellemare pinched a twenty from his sister, drove to a crack house in Verdun, and vanished.

That summer the crack house was sold up-market. That winter the new homeowners grew frustrated with the draw in their fireplace. On Monday, February seventh, the man of the house opened the flue and thrust upward with a rake handle. A desiccated leg tumbled into the ash bed.

Papa called the cops. The cops called the fire department and the Bureau du coroner. The coroner called our forensics lab. Pelletier caught the case.

Pelletier and two morgue techs were standing on the lawn within an hour of the leg drop. To say the scene was confused would be like saying D-day was hectic. Outraged father. Hysterical mother. Overwrought kids. Mesmerized neighbors. Annoyed cops. Mystified firefighters.

Dr. Jean Pelletier is the most senior of the five pathologists at the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale, Quebec's central crime and medico-legal lab. He's got bad joints and bad dentures, and zero tolerance for anything or anyone that wastes his time. Pelletier took one look and ordered a wrecking ball.

The exterior wall of the chimney was pulverized. A well-smoked corpse was extracted, strapped to a gurney, and transported to our lab. The next day Pelletier eyeballed the remains and said, "ossements." Bones.

Enter I, Dr. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist for North Carolina and Quebec. La Belle Province and Dixie? Long story, starting with a faculty swap between my home university, UNC-Charlotte, and McGill. When the exchange year ended, I headed south, but continued consulting for the lab in Montreal. A decade later, I'm still commuting, and lay claim to the mother lode of frequent flyer miles.

Pelletier's demande d'expertise en anthropologie was on my desk when I arrived in Montreal for my February rotation.

It was now Wednesday, February 16, and the chimney bones formed a complete skeleton on my worktable. Though the victim hadn't been a believer in regular checkups, eliminating dental records as an option, all skeletal indicators fit Bellemare. Age, sex, race, and height estimates, along with surgical pins in the right fibula and tibia, told me I was looking at the long-lost Cowboy.

Other than a hairline fracture of the cranial base, probably caused by the unplanned chimney dive, I'd found no evidence of trauma.

I was pondering how and why a man goes up on a roof and falls down the chimney, when the phone rang.

"It seems I need your assistance, Temperance." Only Pierre LaManche called me by my full name, hitting hard on the last syllable, and rhyming it with "sconce" instead of "fence." LaManche had assigned himself a cadaver that I suspected might present decomposition issues.

"Advanced putrefaction?"

"Oui." My boss paused. "And other complicating factors."

"Complicating factors?"

"Cats."

Oh, boy.

"I'll be right down."

After saving the Bellemare report on disk, I left my lab, passed through the glass doors separating the medico-legal section from the rest of the floor, turned into a side corridor, and pushed a button beside a solitary elevator. Accessible only through the two secure levels comprising the LSJML, and through the coroner's office below on eleven, this lift had a single destination: the morgue.

Descending to the basement, I reviewed what I'd learned at that morning's staff meeting.

Avram Ferris, a fifty-six-year-old Orthodox Jew, had gone missing a week earlier. Ferris's body had been discovered late yesterday in a storage closet on the upper floor of his place of business. No signs of a break-in. No signs of a struggle. Employee said he'd been acting odd. Death by self-inflicted gunshot wound was the on-scene assessment. The man's family was adamant in its rejection of suicide as an explanation.

The coroner had ordered an autopsy. Ferris's relatives and rabbi had objected. Negotiations had been heated.

I was about to see the compromise that had been reached.

And the handiwork of the cats.

From the elevator, I turned left, then right toward the morgue. Nearing the outer door to the autopsy wing, I heard sounds drifting from the family room, a forlorn little chamber reserved for those called upon to identify the dead.

Soft sobbing. A female voice.

I pictured the bleak little space with its plastic plants and plastic chairs and discreetly curtained window, and felt the usual ache. We did no hospital autopsies at the LSJML. No end-stage liver disease. No pancreatic cancer. We were scripted for murder, suicide, accidental and sudden and unexpected death. The family room held those just ambushed by the unthinkable and unforeseen. Their grief never failed to touch me.

Pulling open a bright blue door, I proceeded down a narrow corridor, passing computer stations, drying racks, and stainless steel carts on my right, more blue doors on my left, each labeled salle d'autopsie. At the fourth door, I took a deep breath and entered.

Along with the skeletal, I get the burned, the mummified, the mutilated, and the decomposed. My job is to restore the identity death has erased. I frequently use room four since it is outfitted with special ventilation. This morning the system was barely keeping up with the odor of decay.

Some autopsies play to an empty house. Some pack them in. Despite the stench, Avram Ferris's postmortem was standing room only.

LaManche. His autopsy tech, Lisa. A police photographer. Two uniforms. A Sûrété du Québec detective I didn't know. Tall guy, freckled, and paler than tofu.

An SQ detective I did know. Well. Andrew Ryan. Six-two. Sandy hair. Viking blue eyes.

We nodded to each other. Ryan the cop. Tempe the anthropologist.

If the official players weren't crowd enough, four outsiders formed a shoulder-to-shoulder wall of disapproval at the foot of the corpse.

I did a quick scan. All male. Two midfifties, two maybe closing out their sixties. Dark hair. Glasses. Beards. Black suits. Yarmulkes.

The wall regarded me with appraising eyes. Eight hands stayed clasped behind four rigid backs.

LaManche lowered his mask and introduced me to the quartet of observers.

"Given the condition of Mr. Ferris's body, an anthropologist is needed."

Four puzzled looks.

"Dr. Brennan's expertise is skeletal anatomy." LaManche spoke English. "She is fully aware of your special needs."

Other than careful collection of all blood and tissue, I hadn't a clue of their special needs.

"I'm very sorry for your loss," I said, pressing my clipboard to my chest.

Four somber nods.

Their loss lay at center stage, plastic sheeting stretched between his body and the stainless steel. More sheeting had been spread on the floor below and around the table. Empty tubs, jars, and vials sat ready on a rolling cart.

The body had been stripped and washed, but no incision had been made. Two paper bags lay flattened on the counter. I assumed LaManche had completed his external exam, including tests for gunpowder and other trace evidence on Ferris's hands.

Eight eyes tracked me as I crossed to the deceased. Observer number four reclasped his hands in front of his genitals.

Avram Ferris didn't look like he'd died last week. He looked like he'd died during the Clinton years. His eyes were black, his tongue purple, his skin mottled olive and eggplant. His gut was distended, his scrotum ballooned to the size of beach balls.

I looked to Ryan for an explanation.

"Temperature in the closet was pushing ninety-two," he said.

"Why so hot?"

"We figure one of the cats brushed the thermostat," Ryan said.

I did a quick calculation. Ninety-two Fahrenheit. About thirty-five Celsius. No wonder Ferris was setting a land record for decomposition.

But heat had been just one of this gentleman's problems.

When hungry, the most docile among us grow cranky. When starved, we grow desperate. Id overrides ethics. We eat. We survive. That common instinct drives herd animals, predators, wagon trains, and soccer teams.

Even Fido and Fluffy go vulture.

Avram Ferris had made the mistake of punching out while trapped with two domestic shorthairs and a Siamese.

And a short supply of Friskies.

I moved around the table.

Ferris's left temporal and parietal bones were oddly splayed. Though I couldn't see the occipital, it was obvious the back of his head had taken a hit.

Pulling on gloves, I wedged two fingers under the skull and palpated. The bone yielded like sludge. Only scalp tissue was keeping the flip side together.

I eased the head down and examined the face.

It was difficult to imagine what Ferris had looked like in life. His left cheek was macerated. Tooth marks scored the underlying bone, and fragments glistened opalescent in the angry red stew.

Though swollen and marbled, Ferris's face was largely intact on the right.

I straightened, considered the patterning of the mutilation. Despite the heat and the smell of putrefaction, the cats hadn't ventured to the right of Ferris's nose or south to the rest of the body.

I understood why LaManche needed me.

"There was an open wound on the left side of the face?" I asked him.

"Oui. And another at the back of the skull. The putrefaction and scavenging make it impossible to determine bullet trajectory."

"I'll need a full set of cranial X-rays," I said to Lisa.

"Orientation?"

"All angles. And I'll need the skull."

"Impossible." Observer four again came alive. "We have an agreement."

LaManche raised a gloved hand. "I have the responsibility to determine the truth in this matter."

"You gave your word there would be no retention of specimens." Though the man's face was the color of oatmeal, a pink bud was mushrooming on each of his cheeks.

"Unless absolutely unavoidable." LaManche was all reason.

Observer four turned to the man on his left. Observer three raised his chin and gazed down through lowered lids.

"Let him speak." Unruffled. The rabbi counseling patience.

LaManche turned to me.

"Dr. Brennan, proceed with your analysis, leaving the skull and all untraumatized bone in place."

"Dr. LaManche — "

"If that proves unworkable, resume normal protocol."

I do not like being told how to do my job. I do not like working with less than the maximum available information, or employing less than optimum procedure.

I do like and respect Pierre LaManche. He is the finest pathologist I've ever known.

I looked at my boss. The old man nodded almost imperceptibly. Work with me, he was signaling.

I shifted my gaze to the faces hovering above Avram Ferris. In each I saw the age-old struggle of dogma versus pragmatics. The body as temple. The body as ducts and ganglia and piss and bile.

In each I saw the anguish of loss.

The same anguish I'd overheard just minutes before.

"Of course," I said quietly. "Call when you're ready to retract the scalp."

I looked at Ryan. He winked, Ryan the cop hinting at Ryan the lover.

The woman was still crying when I left the autopsy wing. Her companion, or companions, were now silent.

I hesitated, not wanting to intrude on personal sorrow.

Was that it? Or was that merely an excuse to shield myself?

I often witness grief. Time and again I am present for that head-on collision when survivors face the realization of their altered lives. Meals that will never be shared. Conversations that will never be spoken. Little Golden Books that will never be read aloud.

I see the pain, but have no help to offer. I am an outsider, a voyeur looking on after the crash, after the fire, after the shooting. I am part of the screaming sirens, the stretching of the yellow tape, the zipping of the body bag.

I cannot diminish the overwhelming sorrow. And I hate my impotence.

Feeling like a coward, I turned into the family room.

Two women sat side by side, together but not touching. The younger could have been thirty or fifty. She had pale skin, heavy brows, and curly dark hair tied back on her neck. She wore a black skirt and a long black sweater with a high cowl that brushed her jaw.

The older woman was so wrinkled she reminded me of the dried-apple dolls crafted in the Carolina mountains. She wore an ankle-length dress whose color fell somewhere between black and purple. Loose threads spiraled where the top three buttons should have been.

I cleared my throat.

Apple Granny glanced up, tears glistening on the face of ten thousand creases.

"Mrs. Ferris?"

The gnarled fingers bunched and rebunched a hanky.

"I'm Temperance Brennan. I'll be helping with Mr. Ferris's autopsy."

The old woman's head dropped to the right, jolting her wig to a suboptimal angle.

"Please accept my condolences. I know how difficult this is for you."

The younger woman raised two heart-stopping lilac eyes. "Do you?"

Good question.

Loss is difficult to understand. I know that. My understanding of loss is incomplete. I know that, too.

I lost my brother to leukemia when he was three. I lost my grandmother when she'd lived more than ninety years. Each time, the grief was like a living thing, invading my body and nesting deep in my marrow and nerve endings.

Kevin had been barely past baby. Gran was living in memories that didn't include me. I loved them. They loved me. But they were not the entire focus of my life, and both deaths were anticipated.

How did anyone deal with the sudden loss of a spouse? Of a child?

I didn't want to imagine.

The younger woman pressed her point. "You can't presume to understand the sorrow we feel."

Unnecessarily confrontational, I thought. Clumsy condolences are still condolences.

"Of course not," I said, looking from her to her companion and back. "That was presumptuous of me."

Neither woman spoke.

"I am very sorry for your loss."

The younger woman waited so long I thought she wasn't going to respond.

"I'm Miriam Ferris. Avram is . . . was my husband." Miriam's hand came up and paused, as if uncertain as to its mission. "Dora is Avram's mother."

The hand fluttered toward Dora, then dropped to rejoin its counterpart.

"I suppose our presence during the autopsy is irregular. There's nothing we can do." Miriam's voice sounded husky with grief. "This is all so . . ." Her words trailed off, but her eyes stayed fixed on me.

I tried to think of something comforting, or uplifting, or even just calming to say. No words formed in my mind. I fell back on clichés.

"I do understand the pain of losing a loved one."

A twitch made Dora's right cheek jump. Her shoulders slumped and her head dropped.

I moved to her, squatted, and placed my hand on hers.

"Why Avram?" Choked. "Why my only son? A mother should not bury her son."

Miriam said something in Hebrew or Yiddish.

"Who is this God? Why does he do this?"

Miriam spoke again, this time with quiet reprimand.

Dora's eyes rolled up to mine. "Why not take me? I'm old. I'm ready." The wrinkled lips trembled.

"I can't answer that, ma'am." My own voice sounded husky.

A tear dropped from Dora's chin to my thumb.

I looked down at that single drop of wetness.

I swallowed.

"May I make you some tea, Mrs. Ferris?"

"We'll be fine," Miriam said. "Thank you."

I squeezed Dora's hand. The skin felt dry, the bones brittle.

Feeling useless, I stood and handed Miriam a card. "I'll be upstairs for the next few hours. If there's anything I can do, please don't hesitate to call."

Exiting the viewing room, I noticed one of the bearded observers watching from across the hall.

As I passed, the man stepped forward to block my path.

"That was very kind." His voice had a peculiar raspy quality, like Kenny Rogers singing "Lucille."

"A woman has lost her son. Another her husband."

"I saw you in there. It is obvious you are a person of compassion. A person of honor."

Where was this going?

The man hesitated, as though debating a few final points with himself. Then he reached into a pocket, withdrew an envelope, and handed it to me.

"This is the reason Avram Ferris is dead."

Copyright © 2005 by Temperance Brennan, L.P. he was signaling.

I shifted my gaze to the faces hovering above Avram Ferris. In each I saw the age-old struggle of dogma versus pragmatics. The body as temple. The body as ducts and ganglia and piss and bile.

In each I saw the anguish of loss.

The same anguish I'd overheard just minutes before.

"Of course," I said quietly. "Call when you're ready to retract the scalp."

I looked at Ryan. He winked, Ryan the cop hinting at Ryan the lover.

The woman was still crying when I left the autopsy wing. Her companion, or companions, were now silent.

I hesitated, not wanting to intrude on personal sorrow.

Was that it? Or was that merely an excuse to shield myself?

I often witness grief. Time and again I am present for that head-on collision when survivors face the realization of their altered lives. Meals that will never be shared. Conversations that will never be spoken. Little Golden Books that will never be read aloud.

I see the pain, but have no help to offer. I am an outsider, a voyeur looking on after the crash, after the fire, after the shooting. I am part of the screaming sirens, the stretching of the yellow tape, the zipping of the body bag.

I cannot diminish the overwhelming sorrow. And I hate my impotence.

Feeling like a coward, I turned into the family room.

Two women sat side by side, together but not touching. The younger could have been thirty or fifty. She had pale skin, heavy brows, and curly dark hair tied back on her neck. She wore a black skirt and a long black sweater with a high cowl that brushed her jaw.

The older woman was so wrinkled she reminded me of the dried-apple dolls crafted in the Carolina mountains. She wore an ankle-length dress whose color fell somewhere between black and purple. Loose threads spiraled where the top three buttons should have been.

I cleared my throat.

Apple Granny glanced up, tears glistening on the face of ten thousand creases.

"Mrs. Ferris?"

The gnarled fingers bunched and rebunched a hanky.

"I'm Temperance Brennan. I'll be helping with Mr. Ferris's autopsy."

The old woman's head dropped to the right, jolting her wig to a suboptimal angle.

"Please accept my condolences. I know how difficult this is for you."

The younger woman raised two heart-stopping lilac eyes. "Do you?"

Good question.

Loss is difficult to understand. I know that. My understanding of loss is incomplete. I know that, too.

I lost my brother to leukemia when he was three. I lost my grandmother when she'd lived more than ninety years. Each time, the grief was like a living thing, invading my body and nesting deep in my marrow and nerve endings.

Kevin had been barely past baby. Gran was living in memories that didn't include me. I loved them. They loved me. But they were not the entire focus of my life, and both deaths were anticipated.

How did anyone deal with the sudden loss of a spouse? Of a child?

I didn't want to imagine.

The younger woman pressed her point. "You can't presume to understand the sorrow we feel."

Unnecessarily confrontational, I thought. Clumsy condolences are still condolences.

"Of course not," I said, looking from her to her companion and back. "That was presumptuous of me."

Neither woman spoke.

"I am very sorry for your loss."

The younger woman waited so long I thought she wasn't going to respond.

"I'm Miriam Ferris. Avram is . . . was my husband." Miriam's hand came up and paused, as if uncertain as to its mission. "Dora is Avram's mother."

The hand fluttered toward Dora, then dropped to rejoin its counterpart.

"I suppose our presence during the autopsy is irregular. There's nothing we can do." Miriam's voice sounded husky with grief. "This is all so . . ." Her words trailed off, but her eyes stayed fixed on me.

I tried to think of something comforting, or uplifting, or even just calming to say. No words formed in my mind. I fell back on cliches.

"I do understand the pain of losing a loved one."

A twitch made Dora's right cheek jump. Her shoulders slumped and her head dropped.

I moved to her, squatted, and placed my hand on hers.

"Why Avram?" Choked. "Why my only son? A mother should not bury her son."

Miriam said something in Hebrew or Yiddish.

"Who is this God? Why does he do this?"

Miriam spoke again, this time with quiet reprimand.

Dora's eyes rolled up to mine. "Why not take me? I'm old. I'm ready." The wrinkled lips trembled.

"I can't answer that, ma'am." My own voice sounded husky.

A tear dropped from Dora's chin to my thumb.

I looked down at that single drop of wetness.

I swallowed.

"May I make you some tea, Mrs. Ferris?"

"We'll be fine," Miriam said. "Thank you."

I squeezed Dora's hand. The skin felt dry, the bones brittle.

Feeling useless, I stood and handed Miriam a card. "I'll be upstairs for the next few hours. If there's anything I can do, please don't hesitate to call."

Exiting the viewing room, I noticed one of the bearded observers watching from across the hall.

As I passed, the man stepped forward to block my path.

"That was very kind." His voice had a peculiar raspy quality, like Kenny Rogers singing "Lucille."

"A woman has lost her son. Another her husband."

"I saw you in there. It is obvious you are a person of compassion. A person of honor."

Where was this going?

The man hesitated, as though debating a few final points with himself. Then he reached into a pocket, withdrew an envelope, and handed it to me.

"This is the reason Avram Ferris is dead."

Copyright © 2005 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.expertise en anthropologie was on my desk when I arrived in Montreal for my February rotation.

It was now Wednesday, February 16, and the chimney bones formed a complete skeleton on my worktable. Though the victim hadn't been a believer in regular checkups, eliminating dental records as an option, all skeletal indicators fit Bellemare. Age, sex, race, and height estimates, along with surgical pins in the right fibula and tibia, told me I was looking at the long-lost Cowboy.

Other than a hairline fracture of the cranial base, probably caused by the unplanned chimney dive, I'd found no evidence of trauma.

I was pondering how and why a man goes up on a roof and falls down the chimney, when the phone rang.

"It seems I need your assistance, Temperance." Only Pierre LaManche called me by my full name, hitting hard on the last syllable, and rhyming it with "sconce" instead of "fence." LaManche had assigned himself a cadaver that I suspected might present decomposition issues.

"Advanced putrefaction?"

"Oui." My boss paused. "And other complicating factors."

"Complicating factors?"

"Cats."

Oh, boy.

"I'll be right down."

After saving the Bellemare report on disk, I left my lab, passed through the glass doors separating the medico-legal section from the rest of the floor, turned into a side corridor, and pushed a button beside a solitary elevator. Accessible only through the two secure levels comprising the LSJML, and through the coroner's office below on eleven, this lift had a single destination: the morgue.

Descending to the basement, I reviewed what I'd learned at that morning's staff meeting.

Avram Ferris, a fifty-six-year-old Orthodox Jew, had gone missing a week earlier. Ferris's body had been discovered late yesterday in a storage closet on the upper floor of his place of business. No signs of a break-in. No signs of a struggle. Employee said he'd been acting odd. Death by self-inflicted gunshot wound was the on-scene assessment. The man's family was adamant in its rejection of suicide as an explanation.

The coroner had ordered an autopsy. Ferris's relatives and rabbi had objected. Negotiations had been heated.

I was about to see the compromise that had been reached.

And the handiwork of the cats.

From the elevator, I turned left, then right toward the morgue. Nearing the outer door to the autopsy wing, I heard sounds drifting from the family room, a forlorn little chamber reserved for those called upon to identify the dead.

Soft sobbing. A female voice.

I pictured the bleak little space with its plastic plants and plastic chairs and discreetly curtained window, and felt the usual ache. We did no hospital autopsies at the LSJML. No end-stage liver disease. No pancreatic cancer. We were scripted for murder, suicide, accidental and sudden and unexpected death. The family room held those just ambushed by the unthinkable and unforeseen. Their grief never failed to touch me.

Pulling open a bright blue door, I proceeded down a narrow corridor, passing computer stations, drying racks, and stainless steel carts on my right, more blue doors on my left, each labeled salle d'autopsie. At the fourth door, I took a deep breath and entered.

Along with the skeletal, I get the burned, the mummified, the mutilated, and the decomposed. My job is to restore the identity death has erased. I frequently use room four since it is outfitted with special ventilation. This morning the system was barely keeping up with the odor of decay.

Some autopsies play to an empty house. Some pack them in. Despite the stench, Avram Ferris's postmortem was standing room only.

LaManche. His autopsy tech, Lisa. A police photographer. Two uniforms. A Surété du Québec detective I didn't know. Tall guy, freckled, and paler than tofu.

An SQ detective I did know. Well. Andrew Ryan. Six-two. Sandy hair. Viking blue eyes.

We nodded to each other. Ryan the cop. Tempe the anthropologist.

If the official players weren't crowd enough, four outsiders formed a shoulder-to-shoulder wall of disapproval at the foot of the corpse.

I did a quick scan. All male. Two midfifties, two maybe closing out their sixties. Dark hair. Glasses. Beards. Black suits. Yarmulkes.

The wall regarded me with appraising eyes. Eight hands stayed clasped behind four rigid backs.

LaManche lowered his mask and introduced me to the quartet of observers.

"Given the condition of Mr. Ferris's body, an anthropologist is needed."

Four puzzled looks.

"Dr. Brennan's expertise is skeletal anatomy." LaManche spoke English. "She is fully aware of your special needs."

Other than careful collection of all blood and tissue, I hadn't a clue of their special needs.

"I'm very sorry for your loss," I said, pressing my clipboard to my chest.

Four somber nods.

Their loss lay at center stage, plastic sheeting stretched between his body and the stainless steel. More sheeting had been spread on the floor below and around the table. Empty tubs, jars, and vials sat ready on a rolling cart.

The body had been stripped and washed, but no incision had been made. Two paper bags lay flattened on the counter. I assumed LaManche had completed his external exam, including tests for gunpowder and other trace evidence on Ferris's hands.

Eight eyes tracked me as I crossed to the deceased. Observer number four reclasped his hands in front of his genitals.

Avram Ferris didn't look like he'd died last week. He looked like he'd died during the Clinton years. His eyes were black, his tongue purple, his skin mottled olive and eggplant. His gut was distended, his scrotum ballooned to the size of beach balls.

I looked to Ryan for an explanation.

"Temperature in the closet was pushing ninety-two," he said.

"Why so hot?"

"We figure one of the cats brushed the thermostat," Ryan said.

I did a quick calculation. Ninety-two Fahrenheit. About thirty-five Celsius. No wonder Ferris was setting a land record for decomposition.

But heat had been just one of this gentleman's problems.

When hungry, the most docile among us grow cranky. When starved, we grow desperate. Id overrides ethics. We eat. We survive. That common instinct drives herd animals, predators, wagon trains, and soccer teams.

Even Fido and Fluffy go vulture.

Avram Ferris had made the mistake of punching out while trapped with two domestic shorthairs and a Siamese.

And a short supply of Friskies.

I moved around the table.

Ferris's left temporal and parietal bones were oddly splayed. Though I couldn't see the occipital, it was obvious the back of his head had taken a hit.

Pulling on gloves, I wedged two fingers under the skull and palpated. The bone yielded like sludge. Only scalp tissue was keeping the flip side together.

I eased the head down and examined the face.

It was difficult to imagine what Ferris had looked like in life. His left cheek was macerated. Tooth marks scored the underlying bone, and fragments glistened opalescent in the angry red stew.

Though swollen and marbled, Ferris's face was largely intact on the right.

I straightened, considered the patterning of the mutilation. Despite the heat and the smell of putrefaction, the cats hadn't ventured to the right of Ferris's nose or south to the rest of the body.

I understood why LaManche needed me.

"There was an open wound on the left side of the face?" I asked him.

"Oui. And another at the back of the skull. The putrefaction and scavenging make it impossible to determine bullet trajectory."

"I'll need a full set of cranial X-rays," I said to Lisa.

"Orientation?"

"All angles. And I'll need the skull."

"Impossible." Observer four again came alive. "We have an agreement."

LaManche raised a gloved hand. "I have the responsibility to determine the truth in this matter."

"You gave your word there would be no retention of specimens." Though the man's face was the color of oatmeal, a pink bud was mushrooming on each of his cheeks.

"Unless absolutely unavoidable." LaManche was all reason.

Observer four turned to the man on his left. Observer three raised his chin and gazed down through lowered lids.

"Let him speak." Unruffled. The rabbi counseling patience.

LaManche turned to me.

"Dr. Brennan, proceed with your analysis, leaving the skull and all untraumatized bone in place."

"Dr. LaManche—"

"If that proves unworkable, resume normal protocol."

I do not like being told how to do my job. I do not like working with less than the maximum available information, or employing less than optimum procedure.

I do like and respect Pierre LaManche. He is the finest pathologist I've ever known.

I looked at my boss. The old man nodded almost imperceptibly. Work with me, he was signaling.

I shifted my gaze to the faces hovering above Avram Ferris. In each I saw the age-old struggle of dogma versus pragmatics. The body as temple. The body as ducts and ganglia and piss and bile.

In each I saw the anguish of loss.

The same anguish I'd overheard just minutes before.

"Of course," I said quietly. "Call when you're ready to retract the scalp."

I looked at Ryan. He winked, Ryan the cop hinting at Ryan the lover.

The woman was still crying when I left the autopsy wing. Her companion, or companions, were now silent.

I hesitated, not wanting to intrude on personal sorrow.

Was that it? Or was that merely an excuse to shield myself?

I often witness grief. Time and again I am present for that head-on collision when survivors face the realization of their altered lives. Meals that will never be shared. Conversations that will never be spoken. Little Golden Books that will never be read aloud.

I see the pain, but have no help to offer. I am an outsider, a voyeur looking on after the crash, after the fire, after the shooting. I am part of the screaming sirens, the stretching of the yellow tape, the zipping of the body bag.

I cannot diminish the overwhelming sorrow. And I hate my impotence.

Feeling like a coward, I turned into the family room.

Two women sat side by side, together but not touching. The younger could have been thirty or fifty. She had pale skin, heavy brows, and curly dark hair tied back on her neck. She wore a black skirt and a long black sweater with a high cowl that brushed her jaw.

The older woman was so wrinkled she reminded me of the dried-apple dolls crafted in the Carolina mountains. She wore an ankle-length dress whose color fell somewhere between black and purple. Loose threads spiraled where the top three buttons should have been.

I cleared my throat.

Apple Granny glanced up, tears glistening on the face of ten thousand creases.

"Mrs. Ferris?"

The gnarled fingers bunched and rebunched a hanky.

"I'm Temperance Brennan. I'll be helping with Mr. Ferris's autopsy."

The old woman's head dropped to the right, jolting her wig to a suboptimal angle.

"Please accept my condolences. I know how difficult this is for you."

The younger woman raised two heart-stopping lilac eyes. "Do you?"

Good question.

Loss is difficult to understand. I know that. My understanding of loss is incomplete. I know that, too.

I lost my brother to leukemia when he was three. I lost my grandmother when she'd lived more than ninety years. Each time, the grief was like a living thing, invading my body and nesting deep in my marrow and nerve endings.

Kevin had been barely past baby. Gran was living in memories that didn't include me. I loved them. They loved me. But they were not the entire focus of my life, and both deaths were anticipated.

How did anyone deal with the sudden loss of a spouse? Of a child?

I didn't want to imagine.

The younger woman pressed her point. "You can't presume to understand the sorrow we feel."

Unnecessarily confrontational, I thought. Clumsy condolences are still condolences.

"Of course not," I said, looking from her to her companion and back. "That was presumptuous of me."

Neither woman spoke.

"I am very sorry for your loss."

The younger woman waited so long I thought she wasn't going to respond.

"I'm Miriam Ferris. Avram is . . . was my husband." Miriam's hand came up and paused, as if uncertain as to its mission. "Dora is Avram's mother."

The hand fluttered toward Dora, then dropped to rejoin its counterpart.

"I suppose our presence during the autopsy is irregular. There's nothing we can do." Miriam's voice sounded husky with grief. "This is all so . . ." Her words trailed off, but her eyes stayed fixed on me.

I tried to think of something comforting, or uplifting, or even just calming to say. No words formed in my mind. I fell back on clichés.

"I do understand the pain of losing a loved one."

A twitch made Dora's right cheek jump. Her shoulders slumped and her head dropped.

I moved to her, squatted, and placed my hand on hers.

"Why Avram?" Choked. "Why my only son? A mother should not bury her son."

Miriam said something in Hebrew or Yiddish.

"Who is this God? Why does he do this?"

Miriam spoke again, this time with quiet reprimand.

Dora's eyes rolled up to mine. "Why not take me? I'm old. I'm ready." The wrinkled lips trembled.

"I can't answer that, ma'am." My own voice sounded husky.

A tear dropped from Dora's chin to my thumb.

I looked down at that single drop of wetness.

I swallowed.

"May I make you some tea, Mrs. Ferris?"

"We'll be fine," Miriam said. "Thank you."

I squeezed Dora's hand. The skin felt dry, the bones brittle.

Feeling useless, I stood and handed Miriam a card. "I'll be upstairs for the next few hours. If there's anything I can do, please don't hesitate to call."

Exiting the viewing room, I noticed one of the bearded observers watching from across the hall.

As I passed, the man stepped forward to block my path.

"That was very kind." His voice had a peculiar raspy quality, like Kenny Rogers singing "Lucille."

"A woman has lost her son. Another her husband."

"I saw you in there. It is obvious you are a person of compassion. A person of honor."

Where was this going?

The man hesitated, as though debating a few final points with himself. Then he reached into a pocket, withdrew an envelope, and handed it to me.

"This is the reason Avram Ferris is dead."

Copyright © 2005 by Temperance Brennan, L.P. he was signaling.

I shifted my gaze to the faces hovering above Avram Ferris. In each I saw the age-old struggle of dogma versus pragmatics. The body as temple. The body as ducts and ganglia and piss and bile.

In each I saw the anguish of loss.

The same anguish I'd overheard just minutes before.

"Of course," I said quietly. "Call when you're ready to retract the scalp."

I looked at Ryan. He winked, Ryan the cop hinting at Ryan the lover.

The woman was still crying when I left the autopsy wing. Her companion, or companions, were now silent.

I hesitated, not wanting to intrude on personal sorrow.

Was that it? Or was that merely an excuse to shield myself?

I often witness grief. Time and again I am present for that head-on collision when survivors face the realization of their altered lives. Meals that will never be shared. Conversations that will never be spoken. Little Golden Books that will never be read aloud.

I see the pain, but have no help to offer. I am an outsider, a voyeur looking on after the crash, after the fire, after the shooting. I am part of the screaming sirens, the stretching of the yellow tape, the zipping of the body bag.

I cannot diminish the overwhelming sorrow. And I hate my impotence.

Feeling like a coward, I turned into the family room.

Two women sat side by side, together but not touching. The younger could have been thirty or fifty. She had pale skin, heavy brows, and curly dark hair tied back on her neck. She wore a black skirt and a long black sweater with a high cowl that brushed her jaw.

The older woman was so wrinkled she reminded me of the dried-apple dolls crafted in the Carolina mountains. She wore an ankle-length dress whose color fell somewhere between black and purple. Loose threads spiraled where the top three buttons should have been.

I cleared my throat.

Apple Granny glanced up, tears glistening on the face of ten thousand creases.

"Mrs. Ferris?"

The gnarled fingers bunched and rebunched a hanky.

"I'm Temperance Brennan. I'll be helping with Mr. Ferris's autopsy."

The old woman's head dropped to the right, jolting her wig to a suboptimal angle.

"Please accept my condolences. I know how difficult this is for you."

The younger woman raised two heart-stopping lilac eyes. "Do you?"

Good question.

Loss is difficult to understand. I know that. My understanding of loss is incomplete. I know that, too.

I lost my brother to leukemia when he was three. I lost my grandmother when she'd lived more than ninety years. Each time, the grief was like a living thing, invading my body and nesting deep in my marrow and nerve endings.

Kevin had been barely past baby. Gran was living in memories that didn't include me. I loved them. They loved me. But they were not the entire focus of my life, and both deaths were anticipated.

How did anyone deal with the sudden loss of a spouse? Of a child?

I didn't want to imagine.

The younger woman pressed her point. "You can't presume to understand the sorrow we feel."

Unnecessarily confrontational, I thought. Clumsy condolences are still condolences.

"Of course not," I said, looking from her to her companion and back. "That was presumptuous of me."

Neither woman spoke.

"I am very sorry for your loss."

The younger woman waited so long I thought she wasn't going to respond.

"I'm Miriam Ferris. Avram is . . . was my husband." Miriam's hand came up and paused, as if uncertain as to its mission. "Dora is Avram's mother."

The hand fluttered toward Dora, then dropped to rejoin its counterpart.

"I suppose our presence during the autopsy is irregular. There's nothing we can do." Miriam's voice sounded husky with grief. "This is all so . . ." Her words trailed off, but her eyes stayed fixed on me.

I tried to think of something comforting, or uplifting, or even just calming to say. No words formed in my mind. I fell back on cliches.

"I do understand the pain of losing a loved one."

A twitch made Dora's right cheek jump. Her shoulders slumped and her head dropped.

I moved to her, squatted, and placed my hand on hers.

"Why Avram?" Choked. "Why my only son? A mother should not bury her son."

Miriam said something in Hebrew or Yiddish.

"Who is this God? Why does he do this?"

Miriam spoke again, this time with quiet reprimand.

Dora's eyes rolled up to mine. "Why not take me? I'm old. I'm ready." The wrinkled lips trembled.

"I can't answer that, ma'am." My own voice sounded husky.

A tear dropped from Dora's chin to my thumb.

I looked down at that single drop of wetness.

I swallowed.

"May I make you some tea, Mrs. Ferris?"

"We'll be fine," Miriam said. "Thank you."

I squeezed Dora's hand. The skin felt dry, the bones brittle.

Feeling useless, I stood and handed Miriam a card. "I'll be upstairs for the next few hours. If there's anything I can do, please don't hesitate to call."

Exiting the viewing room, I noticed one of the bearded observers watching from across the hall.

As I passed, the man stepped forward to block my path.

"That was very kind." His voice had a peculiar raspy quality, like Kenny Rogers singing "Lucille."

"A woman has lost her son. Another her husband."

"I saw you in there. It is obvious you are a person of compassion. A person of honor."

Where was this going?

The man hesitated, as though debating a few final points with himself. Then he reached into a pocket, withdrew an envelope, and handed it to me.

"This is the reason Avram Ferris is dead."

Copyright © 2005 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.

Interviews

Ransom Notes Interview with Kathy Reichs

Ransom Notes: Tempe's profession is such a distinctive part of this series. What made you decide to give your protagonist the same career as yourself?

Kathy Reichs: Before writing the Temperance Brennan series I was a university professor (University of North Carolina-Charlotte) writing scientific texts on forensic anthropology. I was also consulting in forensic anthropology to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and to the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale in Montreal, Quebec. When I started writing about Temperance, the advice I really took to heart was "Write about what you know."

RN: Has this overlap between your two professions, writer and forensic anthropologist, caused any complications in your own life?

KR: No. And I am careful to keep the two separate. My colleagues at the lab were thrilled, and continue to be. They could not be more helpful in supplying information about their various fields of expertise. At the university, the reaction was somewhat more mixed. The one exception was the chancellor at UNCC. He has been unwaveringly supportive.

RN: What's the biggest change in Tempe's life between the events of Monday Mourning and those in Cross Bones?

KR: Cross Bones takes Tempe out of Monday Mourning's familiar setting of Montreal and into Israel. She is in a strange place, dealing with an unknown legal system and an unfamiliar law enforcement structure…and her relationship with Ryan really heats up!

RN: Would you like to talk about the contrasts between the historical mystery elements in Cross Bones and the modern mysteries in both Cross Bones and other books in this series?

KR: Writing about the ancient dead was great fun for me -- a return to my roots. I trained in bioarchaeology, and did my doctoral work and early research with ancient skeletons. In Cross Bones, I try to show how similar skills are brought to bear in analyzing both modern and ancient remains. While some of the same techniques are used in archaeology and in modern forensics, the goals are very different. Archaeology addresses questions about populations. In a forensic investigation, one tries to establish an individual identity and reconstruct a specific death episode.

RN: What did you enjoy most about researching Cross Bones?

KR: Travel to Israel was exhilarating and informative. I spent time crawling around in caves and tombs, visiting antiquities dealers, absorbing the flavor of the place. I was helped tremendously by biblical archaeologist Dr. James Tabor, who first brought me the idea for Cross Bones based on his work at Masada and Qumran, with the shroud tomb, and with the James ossuary.

RN: What can you tell us about your future plans for Tempe Brennan? KR: I am currently [summer 2005] working on the next Temperance Brennan novel, to be set in Charleston, South Carolina. I am also a producer on this fall's upcoming FOX TV series, Bones, based on me and on my books.

I love to hear from readers, especially through my web site, www.kathyreichs.com.

Customer Reviews

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Cross Bones (Temperance Brennan Series #8) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 157 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read all of her books and am having a hard time finishing this one. Usually I finish in a few days even with a busy schedule. I am counting the pages til it's done. That is a first for any book Kathy Reichs has written. The character development wasn't what it should be. Had this been the first of her books, I doubt that I would have read any more. This plot was hard to follow and seemed constrained. I kept thinking, this is a stretch. I've already bought her next book. I hope it is better. After 7 winners, one dud isn't enough to make me quit reading her work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Tempe novels, but this one is just bad. The plot just couldn't suck me in this time, and usually I'm ALL OVER these books. I would honestly skip this one and go straight into the next, it's SOOOOOOO much better. And it isn't like she gets anywhere in her relationship in this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't get enough. I have read all of Kathy Reichs books. And I think you will too.
jonnyedwards More than 1 year ago
Kathy Reich does it again She has you looking one way then broadsides you with the real plot line . I am a fan forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really do enjoy Kathy Reichs books, but this one...let's just say it's not really her best book, doesn't come anywhere close. It started out okay but by the time you got halfway through it, it was like cringing till the end. Don't worry Kathy Reichs fans, her next novel Break No Bones is SOOOO much better. This book, I'd skip it if I were you! Kathy Reichs is a great author and keeps writing Great novels, please don't let one fluke of a book, stop you from reading her books because they truly are Excellent Novels!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading the reviews, I may give this author another try....this book was so poorly written!! The metaphores where silly (eggs the size of Mt. Rushmore.....PLEASE!!) And the scenes were boring....the scene with the flashlight and the jackel could have been written by a 10 year old! I will try her again because some fans think this book was a disappointment.....so I'll give her another shot!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too was waiting anxiously for this book and I too had to force myself to finish it. Unfortunately she started mixing religion into this book. The relgious preaching in the last 2 pages were the final straw. I hope she sees the error of her ways and goes back to writing what she knows so much about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this to be the worst of Reichs' books (I have read all of them). For some unknown reason Reichs decided to take on Dan Brown and the De Vinci Code -- my advice is, DON'T! I enjoy the standard murder/detective novels that Reichs does best, and urge her to return to that. Also, the incessant bantering and bickering between Tempe Brennan and Ryan is just irritating, and should be toned down. Bottom line, this book was simply confusing, with too many plot lines, and not enjoyable to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tedious, messy and confusing are not good words to describe a novel. Unfortunately, this was not a good novel and the words do apply. I have ready all of the past Kathy Reichs books and generally they were very good. I think she tried to stretch Tempe too much in this book. She had her delving into areas that were way over her head. I knew things were going to get overly complex when she had Tempe and Ryan go off to Israel together. If this had been a tightly written, fast paced novel, it would have helped the subject matter. But, it was rambling, confusing, and did not hold my interest. I found myself skimming through parts and finally I decided to check the last few pages to see if a rousing finale would prompt me to keep reading. What I read at the end was not encouraging, but I did plod through the book. I guess everyone can have a 'miss' in a long row of hits. I hope Kathy gets back to basics with good solid stories and mysteries with her next book
phyllis2779 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Very interesting book. Mystery was good but the surrounding stroy and material was excellent. Fascinating information about early Israel, early Christianity, etc. Lead character is very intriguing. Not at all like the Bones on TV. Older, less conflicted, not as cool, a mother and ex-wife. I will read other books in this series as opportunities present.
hobreads on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Could stand to be about 100 pages shorter. Competent writing, richly described locales, but just felt like it was padded for space. Eventually I gave up on it more than 5/6ths through. Back to Lee Child and Tess Gerritsen instead.
BellaMiaow on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I was really disappointed when I realized where the plot was going - Christ's bones? Come on, Reichs. But she did a very good job with the plot, giving the reader plenty of intrigue without ever getting into any mystical nonsense. I found the references to The Da Vinci Code highly amusing (there may have been some that I missed, but I haven't read the book, and I was only half-way paying attention when I saw the movie).
kashicat on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The difficulty I had with this book is that I don't think Reichs writes fiction all that well. This could be merely my preference in writing style, however. I find her writing to be quite stilted. In some places it ends up reading more like a description than a narrative (there is a difference), which I suppose may come from Ms. Reichs' background in having to record archaeological or forensic details as they appear, with no irrelevant embellishment. However, I really like the characters and I often enjoy Ms. Reichs' stories. So I always have a bit of mixed feeling with her books.
dragonimp on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A forensic mystery heavy on the science and rich in history and intrigue. Much like in real life, the questions are not always answered, and some mysteries never die.
deblet76 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I enjoyed this one. Definately not life changing but some great summer reading.
jlouise77 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I didnt like this book. I like the story, but I found it incredibly difficult to understand. It was overly technical and really jumped around. Turns out that the "mystery" is never solved, which I do not like in an ending. You read the whole book wanting to know what exactly everything meant and there was no resolution other than the whodunit. It also had a weird jokey tone to the book, which I found to be weird and out of place. Also, there was one major "coincedence" in the book that I just couldnt buy into. I thought the IDEA behind the book was interesting, but didnt like the way it was implemented.
Djupstrom on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A great introduction to a great series! I love the television show and the books are great as well. A smart, strong female lead. Refreshing.
jeanned on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Juvenile diaglog, flat characterization, and poor plotting sum up this murder mystery. The book follows forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan and her ever-so-dreamy romantic and professional partner from Montreal to Israel. They are on the hunt for both a murder suspect and the identity of a set of 1st-century skeletal remains discovered at Masada. In this latter mystery, Reichs rather unsuccessfully explores the clash between religious foundations and scientific discovery. It's been years since I read an installment of the Temperance Brennan novels, and perhaps I've become spoiled by my enjoyment of the the TV series Bones. I rate this book at 3 out of 10 stars.
Alera on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Kathy Reich's novels never fail to make me either learn or want to learn something. And I think, out of all the 'crime-solving' genre novels there are, it is why they continue to be some of my favorites. Cross Bones is no exception. Plunged into the middle east on with a 'Davinci Code' like mystery, instead of dwelling there, the current crimes are solved and the past is left to interpretation. In a day and age thirsting for knowledge, I appreciate that even in fictional form all answers aren't always given. I firmly believe there are some things that it might simply be better not to know, no matter how much you want to.
voracious on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Tempe and Ryan find themselves working together again while in the course of investigating an alleged suicide. The are lead to a 2,000 year skeleton, which others have believed were the bones of Jesus. Tempe & Ryan fly to Isreal to investigate leads and end up in the middle of a case involving unknown enemies of various conservative religious sects and political agencies. I thought this was not one of Kathy Reichs' best Tempe novels because the story was too conplex, there were too many players and enemies with foreign names, and it tended to drone on through long passages of hypothesizing. However, the chemistry and wit between Tempe and Ryan was fun and faster than I remembered from previous novels. The concept of the possibility of uncovering the bones of Jesus was also an interesting twist for this series.
marnbarn on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Great continuation of the Tempe novels. Not as gruesome as some of her other work.
heidijane on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book starts off in Canada, but takes forensic anthropologust Tempe Brennan on a whirwind tour through the Holy Land in the search of the truth about an unnamed skeleton...Normally, I tend to avoid books that are compared with other favourite authors or books, particularly ones that say "better than so-and-so". Mainly, because I am cynical of hype and suspect I will be disappointed. Also because I'm probably quite contrary and don't like being told what I "should" like.So I have managed to get through life thus far without touching Kathy Reichs, mainly due to the comparisons with Patricia Cornwell, whose early books I absolutely adored but whose later ones left me somewhat cold. However, I decided that this was my chance and that the time had come to venture into Kathy Reichs' world, and wow! What a great ride it was! OK, OK, the plot may end up being a little far-fetched, but it certainly swept me along quite merrily with it and has encouraged me to seek out some more of her books for the future.
ct.bergeron on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Tempe" Brennan gets caught in mysteries past and present when she's called in to determine if illegal antiquities dealer Avram Ferris's gunshot death is murder or suicide. An acquaintance of Avram suggests the former: he hands Tempe a photograph of a skeleton, taken in Israel in 1963, and insists it's the reason Avram is dead. Tempe's longtime boyfriend, Quebecois detective Andrew Ryan, is also involved with the case, so the duo head to Israel where they attempt to solve the murder and a mystery revolving around a first-century tomb that may contain the remains of the family of Jesus Christ. This find threatens the worldwide Christian community, the Israeli and Jewish hierarchy and numerous illegal antiquity dealers, any of whom might be out to kill Tempe and Ryan. Not that Tempe notices. She has the habit of being oblivious to danger, which quickly becomes annoying, as does Reichs's tendency to end chapters with a heavy-handed cliffhanger ("His next words sent ice up my spine"). The plot is based on a number of real-life anthropological mysteries, and fans of such will have a good time, though thriller readers looking for chills and kills may not find the novel quite as satisfying.
whimsicalkitten on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I love this tv series but have disliked any of Kathy Reich's books that I've picked up.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is most certainly the weakest of Kathy Reichs' books I've read. I really didn't care for this one much. The plot revolves around an ancient Biblical mystery and was very reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code. The murder that takes place at the beginning of the book was almost an afterthought. The first 200 pages dwelt on Biblical history and the religious political intrigue of some ancient bones of which fanatical Christians, fanatical Jews or fanatical Muslims all had their own reasons to either hide or make known the truth. Around page 200, we were returned to the original murder and the case picked up and became more of what I expected from a Kathy Reichs book but I must say the forensic aspect was kept to a bare minimal. I usually enjoy the tense suspense of Temperance Brennan novels but this one was seriously lacking in that department.