Book Review: Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs

Spider Bones
Kathy Reichs
Scribner, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-0239-8

Temperance Brennan, as most readers already know [if not from her books, then from the very popular TV show “Bones,” based on those same books], is usually based in North Carolina.  This latest entry in the series opens with the forensic anthropologist in Quebec, in early May, with her former boyfriend, Lt. Detective Andrew Ryan of homicide,
working on what she describes as “the decomposed, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, and skeletal for the province, helping the coroner with identification, cause of death, and postmortem interval.” When the body of a man is found in a local pond, a fingerprint match is promptly made.  Good news, one would think – except that the match
is to a man who apparently died forty years ago, in Vietnam.  The ensuing investigation takes Brennan and Ryan to Hawaii to try to determine how the same man could be dead in two places.

The reader is provided with a fascinating look at the facility in Hawaii where ongoing work has been carried on for decades to identify bodies from as far back as WWII, as well as SE Asia and the current ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Over 1,400 military personnel have been returned to their families to date, an amazing number.  The
author herself served as an external consultant there, and her expertise is evident.

Brennan’s personal life comes into play, of course, e.g., her daughter, Katy, coming out of a ‘recent fascination with a
thirty-two-year-old drummer named Smooth,’ her renewed relationship with Ryan and his with his daughter, Lily, 19 years old and recently out of rehab.

Other bodies are uncovered, and evidence found as to the identity of each, as well as the one in Montreal, only gets more and more confusing.  I have to admit that after a while I got glassy-eyed trying to keep the various possibilities straight.  Confusion reigns, for the book’s characters and the reader as well.  I found the novel often slow going, although the pace quickens as the conclusion nears. In any event, and despite those things, overall this was an
interesting and entertaining read.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, November 2010.