FLASH AND BONES

Written by Kathy Reichs

Review written by Carole Tyrell

Carole Tyrrell worked in the theatre for nearly 10 years and was always fascinating by the way death and the supernatural formed many of the greatest and most enduring works. She has read crime fiction for many years and enjoys the broad range of the genre.


FLASH AND BONES
William Heinemann
RRP: £18.99
Released: 1st September 2011
Hbk

FLASH & BONES

I’ve always been a fan of Kathy Reichs’ feisty, forensic anthropoligist, Dr Tempe Brennan and was really looking forward to her next adventure.   She has such a self-deprecating sense of wit and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with the dead men.  I’ve always enjoyed Reichs’ use of sly, but never cruel humour in Tempe’s character and her witty way of summing up a scene in a few words especially in the scenes between Tempe and Summer as the latter agonises over her wedding plans.  Tempe has a life beyond the autopsy room which she values.

Although comparisons have inevitably been made between her and Patricia Cornwell’s iconic Scarpetta they really are writing about two completely different, fully rounded characters who inhabit different worlds. Tempe is sharp, clever and observant and likes her world of Charlotte, North Carolina and morgues.

 After searching a sandpit for possible missing body parts Tempe’s glad to be heading home for a shower and lunch. Unfortunately for her a colleague sends out the local cops to divert her journey and carry her off to investigate a possible body in a landfill instead of her meal.  She has no choice but to go with them and so begins her involvement with the local NASCAR Motor Speedway as it prepares to host the All Star event in front of 200,000 spectators.  It’s behind the landfill which contains a barrel filled with more than asphalt from which a human hand protrudes. He didn’t get there by accident and soon becomes labelled as a John Doe. 

The mystery quickly deepens when Wayne Gamble, a Speedway employee, visits Tempe and suggests that the body in the drum could be that of his vanished sister Cindi.  She disappeared with her ne-er do well boyfriend,Cale,  over 10 years ago and nothing’s been heard of them since.  Wayne’s a frightened man and thinks he’s been followed as Cale had links to a white supremacist group, the Patriot Posse.  Cindi had ambitions to become a NASCAR Driver which were unusual and unpopular for a girl from her background at that time.  Tempe and Slim Slidell, her co-opted sidekick, begin to re-interview the missing couple’s friends and acquaintances and discover that the Patriot Posses were a very potent force, an unorganised militia with suspected links to bombings of abortion clinics. The FBI were interested due to Cale’s fascist links and they now become very intrigued by John Doe.  In fact he vanishes from Temp’s morgue together with Tempe’s samples and becomes incinerated when it’s revealed that he may have died from ricin poisoning.  

From then on, Flash and Bones becomes a potent mix of poisoning, thwarted dreams and misplaced political leanings amongst people who will kill to preserve the status quo. It all takes place against the backdrop of the NASCAR All Star race, the highlight of the season and all the people it brings into town.  A world of senior citizens in tube tops and car racing enthusiasts wearing too little clothing and too little sunblock. In only a few pages I was immersed once again in Tempe’s world; the on-off boyfriend, her cat Birdie and her ex-husband and his airhead fiance’s forthcoming nuptials.  Even a new reader would quickly become immersed in the brisk plotting and the crescendo of events to the final discovery of what happened to Cindi and Cale and why.   A highly enjoyable read which kept me guessing until the end. 

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