Wednesday, April 21, 2010

99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall...

So... Not really. But this is my 99th post for this blog, making the next one -- yep, you guessed it. The big 1-0-0. While I'm pondering on whether or not to go big or go small with that one, let's discuss a(nother) Kathy Reichs book:

Tempe Brennan series book #5 (Grave Secrets) was not my favorite. But before I could get bored and move on to other books & series & authors, Reichs wrote Bare Bones and pulled me right back into her world of uncovered bones and murder conspiracies. Reichs chose a theme for each of the Tempe books I've read thus far - -there was the motorcycle gang one, the religious cult one, the Guatemalan genocide one, and now with Bare Bones there is the animal rights one. I say all that rather flippantly, but, a) it is true and b) it actually makes the series more interesting than if she didn't have a shtick. With her method of writing books centered around distinct themes, Reichs continuously puts Tempe into new and (for the most part) interesting situations. This minimizes boredom in readers (especially those like me who wait until the series is 14 books in, and so read all of them as fast as I can in order).

Bare Bones brings Brennan back to the North Carolina setting I love more than any other (although reading about Montreal is interesting, as was the foreign soil of Guatemala). I'm a southern girl through-and-through, and so enjoy a southern book more than anything else. Tempe is ready to leave on vacation when a bag of bones found at a picnic interferes and creates a delay. Other factors compound until Tempe is thoroughly embroiled in a series of investigations that prevent her departure completely. Tempe is joined by a love interest (I'll leave out details, as that's left as a cliffhanger in Grave Secrets) who helps her work the cases. Things become personal when Tempe receives threats to both herself and to her daughter Katy.

Two of the cases bring Tempe into the world of endangered animal poaching and trafficking. Both the bears of North Carolina and a particular kind of parrot from South America find themselves topics of Tempe's research when she discovers bear bones mixed in with human ones, then a bird feather mixed into a drug cache. Katy's new boyfriend also turns out to be a wildlife resources agency official, and Tempe is unsure how she feels about him. Could he be involved in some of her cases, or is it just a bad case of mother's intuition and feeling overprotective?

Great action, and great views of the inner workings of Tempe's psyche. Reichs shows what she's made of in this novel, and it -- like the Guatemalan Civil War novel just released prior to this one -- is drawn from Reichs' personal experience. At the novel's end, Reichs explains in minor detail her real-life case that inspired Bare Bones. Also, cute title, huh? (Get it? Bear bones = Bare bones?)

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