Scribner, Aug 2008, $25.95
Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is in Charlotte, North Carolina working as an instructor at UNC-Charlotte and also at the office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She is called out of a boring college meeting by ME Dr. Larabee, who asks her to go to a house where a plumber broke through a wall only to see a previously concealed cellar with a cauldron with a skull on it behind the wall.
Temperance arrives at the scene and she sees two cauldrons with the human skull on one of them but it is missing the jaw. She takes it to lab to examine the find. She determines the skull is that of a black teenage female, but cannot decide on when she died. The two cauldrons contain objects used in Afro-Carib religious ceremonies. While Temp tries to identify the victim, a torso of a young male is found with satanic symbols on it. An evangelical councilman plans to use the satanic angle to further his political aspirations by pointing at a person who is obviously innocent. When two more murders occur, Temp interprets the notes of the murdered cop who worked the case, but that only leads her to danger from a vile killer who has no qualms of committing another homicide.
Kathy Reichs brilliantly simplifies the forensics sciences without dumbing down the theories or supporting facts, which turns DEAD BONES into a terrific read. There are plenty of viable suspects but no prime person of interest. Thus the protagonist and the police have their work to end the killings. Temp is strong willed who retains her femininity and sense of humor as she works with human remains and living humans while seeking clues to her current case. Readers will enjoy this in depth complex thriller.