The goal of this blog is to showcase authors who don’t get the attention they deserve. Kathy Reichs does not fall into this category. She does, however, write a pretty good story. SPIDER BONES is the thirteenth book in the Temperance Brennan series, most of which titles have “bones” in them since the advent of the television series.
SPIDER BONES begins in Canada with the discovery of the body of a man trapped in a plastic envelope of his own devising. There is little, if any, doubt that this was an accident rather than a suicide and, because he had not been in the water very long, his fingerprints were clear and undamaged.
The victims prints are sent off and in record time, seemingly seconds, the police have the man’s identity. ” ‘Cold hit in the states. Thirteen-point match.’ Ryan’s brows may have shot higher than mine. ‘John Charles Lowery. Date of birth March twenty-first, nineteen fifty…. There’s one problem….John Charles Lowery died in nineteen sixty-eight.’ ”
Then it starts to get complicated. The deceased has been living in the Montreal area under the name Jean Laurier. John Charles Lowery is buried in North Carolina, his remains having been returned to his father and his home after his death in a helicopter crash in Vietnam. Now the US military must get involved because, clearly, they sent the wrong remains to North Carolina. Lowery’s father, in his 80’s, refuses to believe that he has been mourning at the grave of someone else’s son for over forty years. Tempe goes to North Carolina to exhume the body but there is no insignia or dog tags to identify the body. Plato Lowery is convinced his son died a hero. He isn’t willing to help Tempe do anything to diminish his reputation but the body in Canada suggests Lowery was a draft dodger who fled to Canada. The lack of identifying information with the body signals that there were problems with the military’s process of getting bodies safely home.
Regrettably, Tempe has no choice but to travel to Hawaii to the massive repatriation center used by the military to get soldiers from every war home where they belong. Katy, Tempe’s daughter, has just learned that a man to whom she is close has just been killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan where he was a civilian aid worker. She is devastated and Tempe insists that Katy go with her to Hawaii. For some reason, Ryan, Montreal police lieutenant, and his daughter also go to Hawaii where much time is spent on how much the girls hate each other.
Despite being seriously weighed down by a considerable number of pages devoted to the military’s penchant for alphabet stew, all of which I skipped, the story is good. There are true heroes in every war. Most servicemen who answer the call to duty do it for the sake of their country and they do their best to live through it and go home. There are also those men who mold the chaos of war to suit their own agendas. Mistaken identities and deliberate misinformation combine to create a story that, despite the confusion of bodies, is interesting and realistic.
I read it in one sitting. The 302 pages could have been cut by 75 pages for a tighter story. This one ends a bit too abruptly.