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Bones    by Jan Burke order for
by Jan Burke
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2001 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I have always enjoyed Burke's Irene Kelly mysteries. Their main character is a strong, stubborn and honest woman who displays both compassion and humor. Bones is the author's best yet, heading into the serial killer territory of writers like Reichs, Deaver and Cornwell, but without excessive emphasis on the gruesome details. Kelly lives in Las Piernas, Southern California and is married to homicide cop Frank Harriman. She works as a crime reporter, not always a popular profession - 'being in this line of work, I had my disapproval vaccinations a long time ago'.

As this tale begins, Kelly accompanies a group of forensic scientists and police guards to the Sierra Nevada mountains. They are taking serial killer Nick Parrish to a location where he has committed to disclose the burial site of one of his victims, Julia Sayre. Julia's daughter Gillian approached Irene for help in getting official attention at the time of her mother's disappearance and has kept in touch ever since. Parrish has a disturbing interest in Irene, who is similar in appearance to his victims and sees him as 'some combination of Houdini and the Terminator'.

The story seems to be heading down an obvious path when it veers off for the first of many detours from the expected. Predictably enough, Parrish escapes to do a great deal more harm and of course he has targeted Irene. However the author keeps the plot fresh, interesting and realistic and she gives a very credible perspective of the psychological repercussions felt by survivors. In addition to characters familiar to fans of the series, the supporting cast in this episode includes Ben, an irascible anthropologist, and an engaging Latino dog called Bingle, who has been trained to locate cadavers.

Jan Burke has surpassed herself in Bones. The plot is riveting and the manner of Irene's triumph over the psychotic super-villain at the end is highly satisfactory.

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