Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
When Kathy Reichs’ first book, Deja Dead, was released in 1998, I was really interested in forensics in general, and found forensic anthropology especially fascinating. It seemed quite remarkable that so much could be discovered by examining mere skeletal remains. When those remains are very old, or are only partial remains, it is even more remarkable to realize how much information can be gained by the close inspection of a trained eye. I really enjoyed the early books in this series, and thought the good doctor Temperance Brennan was a nicely developed character.
I have continued to read the series, pretty much in its entirety, over the years. I believe Flash and Bones is the 14th book. While I find the subject matter is still very interesting, the novels themselves have slowly begun to take on a sameness. It’s not that they are bad. It’s just that they no longer feel as fresh and exciting as they once did. I think Reichs has tried to fix this problem by shaking up Tempe’s love life here and there, but I frankly miss her interaction with Andrew Ryan, her main love interest over the course of the series. I’m not crazy about the way he’s been shoved to the side and new men have caught Tempe’s eye. But that’s just me, and I could have overlooked it if Flash and Bones had really grabbed me. It didn’t.
Another reason why I wasn’t as into this book as some of her others is because the actual forensic work seemed to take a back seat to more traditional methods of crime solving. I like it better when Tempe is in the lab, piecing together bone fragments and gathering evidence in other interesting (if smelly) ways.
The story involves extremist bio-terrorism plotted by some North Carolina local yokels who are basically caricatured amalgams of every backwoods bigot you ever read about, and NASCAR. A LOT of NASCAR. If you are interested in that particular sub-culture, you would probably enjoy this book more than I did. It certainly had enough facts and figures about racing legends over the years to make dedicated fans happy. Personally, I would have preferred more emphasis on character development and plot lines. But again, that’s just just me.
I would really hate to see this fairly predictable but mostly enjoyable series turn into the same lackluster caliber of entertainment as the television show, “Bones,” which is very loosely based on it. But I’m afraid it might be too late to stop a slow slide in that direction. Surprise me, Kathy Reichs. Make me eat my words by writing your next book with enough substance and excitement to keep me up all night reading it! You’ve done it before. You can do it again!
In the meantime, for those who love a whodunit, even if it’s fairly obvious who DID dunit, and who would enjoy a story set in the world of NASCAR, give it a try. And let me know how you like it.
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