Published by Scribner
Review by J. S. Greer
When Temperance Brennan was young, she and her sister, Harry, spent summers at the family beach house with her grandmother on Pawley's Island in the Outer Banks. One summer, they met Evangeline and her sister, Obeline, who were there visiting their relatives. Evangeline and Temperance struck up a conversation, as young girls will do, and a friendship developed. The girls kept in touch during the winter months and looked forward spending time together in the summers. One summer, overnight, Evangeline and Obeline just vanished. When they inquired with the relatives, they were told that the girls had gone home to be with their mother. After that, Evangeline and Obeline never returned for another summer visit, and they were not heard from by the girls again.
In the present time of the story, Temperance has returned to her second home, Montreal, where she does forensic anthropology work for the police department. She is told by one of the detectives, Hippo Gallant, that there is an old set of bones sitting in a box in the office of a provincial police officer in the Maritimes, and Temperance is asked to examine these. Temperance thinks of her friend, Evangeline, who was from that area of the country, and wonders if perhaps these are her bones. She sets in motion the requests necessary to get the bones brought to her office in Montreal for examination.
She is granted the authority to examine the bones, but must do this around the other cases to which she's been assigned. Springtime in Canada often is Temperance's busiest time as more unattended bodies come to light as the snow melts. Working with her on-again, off-again beau, Detective Ryan, who is investigating some cold cases involving dead or missing girls, Temperance's examination of these bones draws her into a series of events that lead into the world of child pornography, threats, and coercion.
In the midst of this, Harry calls from Texas. She is getting divorced (again) and wants to come to Montreal for a visit while she decides what to do. During some investigating on their own, Temperance and Harry end up in Tracadie, where they discover Obeline is still alive. She appears to be in a fragile state and is believed to be abused by her husband. When Obeline is questioned about the circumstances when she and Evangeline disappeared, she is rather vague and states that they had come home when their mother became ill. She won't really talk about Evangeline or what happened when they returned home, but does tell Temperance she believes Evangeline had been killed when she was sixteen.
During the visit, Harry picks up a book of poems from Obeline's bedside. When Temperance and Harry compare the prose to poems that Evangeline wrote and had given to Temperance at the beach years earlier, it appears that Evangeline might still be alive. They must delve into the past to solve the mysteries of the present.
Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan novels are usually quick, enjoyable reads. It's not necessary to have read the previous novels to enjoy Bones to Ashes. The forensic anthropology terms and descriptions do not get too scientific, but remain interesting while conveying just enough information. Also, having spent some time in Montreal, Kathy Reichs does a credible job of creating images and settings that help to easily recall enjoyable memories of the city.
While the story line in Bones to Ashes can be a bit disturbing, it moved along quickly with enough mystery and plot twists to keep the mind engaged. This is a good book to pick up on a rainy weekend or take to the beach to lose oneself for a while.
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