Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Temperance Brennan (AKA Bones) Series by Kathy Reichs

This book series by Kathy Reichs is one that I probably would have missed if it wasn't for the fact that they based a TV show on it. I love the show Bones, so I jumped into the books as well. I love cop and forensic procedural dramas on TV, but I'm not a big fan of mystery novels. Unfortunately, the plot synopsis for mysteries and procedural dramas often sound very similar on book covers.

This series has its share of mystery, but it is definitely a procedural drama. It is different from the TV show in many ways. In the show, Temperance Brennan is shown as a hyper-rational, non-believer that has a hard time relating to other people. In the books, she is a lapsed Catholic, divorced mom, and recovering alcoholic. She is extremely intelligent and has a lot of integrity in both versions.

Forensics has fascinated me for years, I was obsessed with Forensic Detectives for quite a while. However, the details about forensic anthropology are new to me, so the science interested me as much as the stories. I even sent Kathy Reichs a tweet asking how accurate the science in the books is. Her response was that it is "very" accurate.

There are currently 15 books in the series, with two more coming out this year. I enjoyed the series quite a bit though some books more than others. I liked the characters surrounding Tempy, as well as Tempy herself. There were parts that seemed a bit repetitive, but I'm not sure it's possible to avoid that entirely in a series of any length especially when you can't be sure the reader started with the first book and read them in order.

The following three books from the series had the most intriguing or unique plots in my point of view.

Bones to Ashes in the tenth book in the series, it centers on the discovery of a set of bones discovered in an attic in Arcadia, Canada. These bones turn out to be those of a young girl. Between the location of the bones' discovery and their apparent age, they bring back some strong childhood emotions for Temperance. She wonders if this skeleton could belong to her best friend from childhood that suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from her life with the warning "I'm dangerous". Temperance is a consummate professional in her field and works hard to maintain a professional demeanor, but this case sorely tests her abilities to put her emotions aside and remain objective. The emotions in this book touched me and rang very true.
Another book from the series that I really enjoyed was the eighth book, Cross Bones. This book abounds with conspiracy theories as well as a trip to Israel. The case starts with the murder of an Orthodox Jew in Montreal. The murder seems very unusual and answers can only be found in Israel. In the middle of the murder investigation, some ancient bones are found. It is suggested that these bones could belong to Jesus or a member of his immediate family. These bones could also lead to confirming the location of the Jesus family tomb. People take steps to prevent Temperance and her team from finding out. I like the way Reichs deals with this at the end of the story.
The seventh book in the series is Monday Mourning and another favorite of mine. Three skeletons of young girls are found in the basement of a pizzeria during some plumbing repairs. Temperance is convinced that they are recent murders despite being found with antique buttons. She must fight to prove the young age of the bones and have it investigated as a set of homicides. Once she proves the age of the bones, they must race to catch the killer and prevent other deaths. This one fascinated me because of the serial killer aspect.