The metamorphosis of a book series to a television series can be quite a wonder to behold. In our world Kathy Reichs, a real life forensic anthropologist, writes novels about a character named Temperance Brennan, who shares her creator’s primary occupation and cross-border employment status.
Two years ago this got transformed into the alternate universe of the television series, “Bones” in which Temperance Brennan works as a forensic consultant for the FBI and writes novels about a character called Kathy Reichs. I like the twist, in that there is a connection to the original series of novels, but no pretense at all that they take place on the same planet. Why they’ve even got that accomplished mystery novelizer Max Allan Collins doing an alternate series of books based on the television.
None of this has had much of an impact on the Tempe (that’s Tem- pe) we have come to know, but it does seem to have changed the way Reichs picks her titles. The first three books were titled with bilingual puns about death. The next four had some reference to things related to death. I kind of suspect that the third of these, Bare Bones, was the inspiration for the TV series’ title. All three books since the show began have had the word “bones” in the title somewhere.
Break No Bones is one of Reich’s American mysteries (she seems to alternate between Canadian and American locales), set in South Carolina. Temperance is filling in as instructor for an archeology field school when she and her students discover something that shouldn’t be among the ancient bones of a Native American burial ground - a relatively fresh corpse.
The site was already problematical, as a developer was most anxious that nothing of substance should be found there that might hold up a project he wanted to build. Tempe finds herself under pressure from him and the target of some drive-by harassment.
More importantly though, her friend Emma Rousseau, the local coroner, has another body bearing marks similar to those on Tempe’s discovery. And not long after that, a third one washes ashore in a barrel. Emma it appears, is wasting away from a terminal illness she doesn’t want anyone to know about, and Temperance agrees to cover for her.
So, there are mysteries to be solved. Into that stew toss Tempe’s estranged husband, Pete, who is looking for a missing girl on behalf of a client. She and Pete end up sharing the same beach house, home of a common friend, much to the displeasure of Tempe’s current beau, Sret du Qubec’s Detective Andrew Ryan, who arrives to find Tempe being hugged by Pete after a particularly hard day. This awkward trio ends up working together on cases which seem more and more to be related, and also seem to become more and more dangerous. When Pete is shot at the beach house, Tempe experiences a rush of nostalgic emotion which further complicates things for Andrew.
The actual answer to the disappearance and the murders involves a complex criminal scheme which I won’t divulge here. I had figured out what was probably going on before it was revealed in the story, but there were so many possible suspects that I could not decide who was the actual villain of the piece.
Break No Bones was the ninth book in this series. You can find out about the others at http://www.kathyreichs.com/, a site which also includes articles on numerous subjects related to the work portrayed in her books.
Dorothe Berryman gave the book a good reading and captured the nuances of the different characters she had to voice.