Tempe Brennan Novels serve as a moral guide

Posted: Wednesday, 21 December, 2011 by nicolajones in Book Reviews
Tags: , , ,

Tempe Brennan shares a message to the reader, amidst thrilling tales of murder and mayhem.
The two newest novels in the Temperance Brennan saga contain serious messages about professionalism and the mission of forensic anthropologists. The author, Kathy Reichs, is a board certified Forensic Anthropologist, who works for the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de medicine legale for the Provence of Quebec. She is a professor at the UNC-Charlotte, and former vice president of the American Acadamy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. All this and she writes crime novels that inspired the hit Fox TV show Bones, that she also serves as an executive producer for. After such a long and diverse professional history, she has a lot of real experience to draw on to form compelling stories for her novels.
In 206 Bones Reichs’s alter ego Temperance Brennan is dealing with having been kidnapped. As she slowly comes aware of her surroundings after having been buried alive she remembers the twists and turns of the many cases she had been working as well as the personal issues she faced recently as she tries to figure out when and where she is and who is her unseen enemy. From identifying remains of older women who were brutally murdered, to helping a friend of her soon to be ex-husbands family find answers for a missing grandson she spends a complex winter in the frigid north, while missing her home in South Carolina. She is dealing with her ex-boyfriend and partner Ryan’s making friends with her ex-husband’s family as she tries to prepare for the holidays with them. And with an unknown enemy claiming she is incompetent and falsified cause of death on an old case she worked on. Soon both her work, and the work of the pathologists that she works with in Quebec are called into scrutiny as a bullet track is seemingly ignored by the pathologist assigned to a murder investigation and finger bones go missing that are crucial to identification on the case that Tempe is working on. I won’t give away any more details that that, but I will tell you that the epilogue from Reichs files talks about professional conduct and certification. The moral of the tale is that just because you wear a lab coat does not make you an expert. That it is important to have the education and certification in your field, and that unfortunately not all courts recognize the difference between a lab tech and a forensic specialist.

In Spider Bones Tempe is once again working in Quebec when a mysterious body appears in a small lake that is identified by fingerprints as a man who died in Vietnam. The case takes Tempe home to North Carolina to exhume the soldier’s grave, and then to Hawaii to the labs of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in order to find answers as to who the man in the lake and the man buried in the soldier’s grave really are. Throw in shark attacks, The Sons of Samoa, death threats, Ryan and his heroin addict daughter, and her own daughter Katy’s longtime boyfriend Coop having been murdered by insurgents while attempting to return from a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan. The message of this novel is certainly that any death is tragic, and that every human deserves the respect of being identified and returned to their loved ones. Reichs brings to public awareness the JPAC motto and mission, “Until they are home” and provides contact information for various agencies in the military to contact for information about missing American soldiers. And this is a noble mission indeed.

Nicola A. Jones

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