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Bare Bones    by Kathy Reichs order for
Bare Bones
by Kathy Reichs
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Forensic anthropologist Dr. Tempe Brennan is back with bones and bodies interrupting her love life even more than usual. This episode begins with the discovery of baby bones in a woodstove (the victim is the granddaughter of Gideon Banks, who kept Tempe's Charlotte office and lab clean for two decades.) The action takes place in North Carolina, with only minor references to the series' other setting of Montreal.

Unfortunately, Tempe must work with a particularly obnoxious (prejudiced, homophobic and vocal about it) detective named Skinny Slidell - but, though he persistently irritates her, Tempe is eventually forced to concede that Slidell is after all a good cop. Ryan is visiting Brennan. Though they do manage some steamy scenes this time, their intent to enjoy a beach vacation is put off again and again by the discovery of bones (human and animal) with some very well baked and a few dismembered cadavers thrown in for good measure. It's hard to keep track of all the victims for the reader as well as the anthropologist, but she has extra (canine) help this time in the form of the enthusiastic chow Boyd.

The reactions of Tempe's daughter Katy to Ryan are interesting, as well as mom's suspicions of Katy's new boyfriend Palmer Cousins. Cousins works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is significant as poaching of endangered species (as well as drug smuggling) is one of the key villainies in this story. This leads our heroine to speculate that 'goodness and charity are racing toward extinction faster than the condor or the black rhino.' As usual, Dr. Brennan comes under personal fire, this time in the shape of a stalker who has her daughter as well as the good doctor in his sights. She has yet another exciting close call.

Though not as tightly written as some in the series, Bare Bones reflects the author's usual wit, feeling, and depth of background research (have you heard of Melungeons, sarcoidosis, or a Spix's macaw?) I always enjoy the series' characters, and this time was fascinated by the new focus (a change from biker gangs) on animal poachers.

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