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Bones to Ashes - Kathy Reichs

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Author: Kathy Reichs / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    4 Reviews
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      02.08.2010 21:02
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      OK if you have got nothing beter to do

      A skeleton of a young girl aged about 14 years old. Who is she , how old are the bones, where is she from? Forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan is Struggling to keep her emotions in check.

      This skeleton along with a growing list of missing children stir Temps emotions and ignite a memory from her own childhood. The disappearance of her friend, no warning, no explanation.

      With temps emotions now running at full speed she now decides to take matters into her own hands. Unprepared for the horrors she uncovers can she come out in one piece.?

      This is the second Kathy Reichs novel I have read , unfortunately it is not as good as the first novel I read.

      The plot focuses on the main caricature's {Temperance Brennan} relationship between her sister and ex lover {Ryan}. The Connection between Ryan's missing persons case Which he is working on within is role as detective. An obsessive interest in her lost childhood friend who she believes to be dead and the connection between the skeleton of the 14 year old girl.

      The book started with a slow meandering pace which I quickly lost interest in. There is a couple of dead ends within some sub plots which to me seem a little pointless . However the book did seem to pick up half way through and I quite enjoyed the rest of it.

      The characters are all believable and the narrative is generally easy going although there is some forensic terminology that can get you a bit tongue tied, well it did me. Overall I would say that fans of Kathy Reichs would love this book but I am not so sure about the rest of us?

      I have seen the book priced up on Amazon at £4.87. A lot cheaper for used copy's they also have hard back and Audio...

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        03.03.2010 00:48
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        not for real fans of detective fiction

        Bones to ashes is a detective story set in Montreal and based around visiting American forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Detectives who are not strictly speaking detectives seems to be all the rage these days, as do "cold cases", which also feature heavily in bones to ashes. It's not the sort of detective novel I would normally read, but I thought I would give it a go. Unfortunately, I think Bones to ashes was not a good choice.

        Bones to ashes is eerily reminiscent in style to another detective novel I read some time ago where I couldn't shake the impression that the book was written primarily for women who wanted to identify with the main character, and quick, throw in a detective story to add some excitement! I'm therefore probably not the intended audience. Bones to ashes was not quite as bad, but it has an almost schizoid feel to it with heavy amounts of anthropological science crudely hammered in to a fairly weak plot woven around a highly improbable character mainly built out of Issues. She has an ex husband who she may still have feelings for. He's going to marry a younger girl. She has a boyfriend who was separated from his wife but is now going to back to her for the sake of his child. She has a younger more attractive sister who keeps making rash decisions. I kept waiting for the highly dependent but much loved parent to appear. Maybe they were in the first book. Either way, Temperance is basically a bag of Issues for you to identify with. She has remarkably few characteristics of her own. Still, the less character someone has, the easier it is for everyone to identify with their Issues. Presumably Temperance is quite smart, as she has a doctorate, but I can't say it ever really shone through in her personality.

        The book featured other characters, but none of them really stood still long enough for me to get a look at them. I think the boyfriend was rugged and villains were sleazy.

        The plot was thin and kind of bland. I think there was meant to be a twist at the end, but I can't even be sure of that.

        The other thing I just have to rant about is the fact that Kathy Reichs seems to feel the need to end every chapter (of which there are 40 in a 400 page book so an average chapter is ten pages!) with a "page turner" sentence such as "And encountered my third surprise of the morning"or "her response stunned me". It's like having the author stand behind you and yell "turn the page damn you!" (To be clear, I don't mean that in a good way).

        In its defence I will say that the setting was interesting and the parts of the book that dealt with anthropology were good.

        Kathy Reichs seems to have written a number of books based on the same character, so I guess there must be plenty of people out there who do like her work, but it just didn't work for me. As I said before, narrow target audience.

        In summary, if you were thinking of reading bones to ashes, go read a book on anthropology and a travel guide to Montreal instead.

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        10.06.2009 08:57
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        The discovery of old bones opens old wounds in Tempe's past

        In what is the tenth novel to feature Forensic Anthropologist, Temperance Brennan, we finally get to see a little of what makes our heroine tick. Asked by a colleague to examine some bones that have been kept for years, almost as a mascot, by a Detective with a morbid curiosity, Tempe finds herself flashing back to her childhood and a friend who disappeared one summer never to be heard from again. The bones in question belong to a female no older than 14 years old and seem to be marked with scars reminiscent of some kind of infection. Amidst a busy case-load, Tempe is told to work on the bones in her own free time and this leads her into an investigation that ultimately has deep roots in her past and will bring back some of the strongest possible emotions.

        Meanwhile Detective Andrew Ryan is back on the scene investigating a set of parallel cold cases that involve several missing girls, long given up on and forgotten. He has three bodies that he needs to identify and turns to the woman with whom only recently he maintained a relationship. Now that relationship is strained, but a gruesome case that includes child pornography soon pulls them back together though each is obsessed with their own personal demons; Ryan in dealing with his drug addicted daughter, Tempe with her cold case that could possibly be the answer to her missing friend, Evangeline, whom she has been searching for all these years....

        Bones is perhaps best disguised as one of the weakest of the series so far with it's often hard-to-believe coincidences and it's over-reliance on Tempe as investigator rather than scientist. The on-again-off-again relationship between Tempe and Ryan has started to grow a little wearisome and there are echoes of the ways in which Cornwell's Scarpetta series started to go wrong. This series of thrillers still manages to blow Cornwell out of the water with every page turned, but there is evidence that a few flaws are beginning to creep in and this is not as good as Reichs' earlier work! There seems to be some attempt in making the Tempe we have come to love here to closer resemble her character on T.V show Bones and whilst I have only seen a few episodes of this show, the trend to make Tempe resemble more of a Special Agent than a competent scientific investigator seems to stem from here. In the show she runs about like X-File's Scully much unlike the character we have grown with I the books and any attempt to correlate the two, would in my opinion be an unmitigated disaster. That is not to say that this is awful because it isn't, just that at times the plot stretches credibility which is a shame for such an ordinarily strong series.

        New readers coming to these books for the first time will probably enjoy this latest entry but older fans like myself tend to be more critical by the very nature that makes them fans in the first place. Though I have only been reading these novels since last year, I have come to take these thrillers close to my heart and to see any threads of decay quite distresses me. There are so few really good thriller writers at the minute, more interested in crafting a strong story rather than just churning out by-the-numbers suspense, that it would be a shame if Kathy Reichs' work began to deteriorate to the standard of her contemporaries. Still the end is not yet in sight, for this is still a highly accomplished thriller that simply exhibits the misfortune of not quite being up to the author's usual standard. I still quite enjoyed it and it was good to get a different perspective of what made Tempe who she is today, it is simply a shame the story couldn't have been a bit stronger and the plot just that little bit tighter. Here's hoping Devil Bones, the next thriller, sees a return to form to this rightly deserving highly successful forensic series...

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          11.01.2009 12:25
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          A way for Reichs to show off her understanding; not a great read.

          The back cover claims that this novel is primarily about a skeleton: 'that of a young girl, no more than fourteen years old'. In fact, the novel as a whole seems to be an opportunity for Reichs to display her extensive knowledge of forensic anthropology as it is full of skeletons, a couple of which are completely irrelevant to the main plot. These skeletons are discussed in a manner that is usually accessible, but sometimes the discussion (of diatoms, for example) just became too long-winded, scientific and dull to keep my interest. The science behind death and bodies can be fascinating - I love watching CSI, for example - but Reichs seems to forget that the details are only interesting as long as they are given concisely and can be understood fairly easily. Pages of discussion over one smell detail that leads to no definitive conclusion may be very realistic but it is not particularly entertaining.

          The heroine of this story in Temperance Brennan, and it is possible that I would have had more patience with her if I had read some of the stories from earlier on in this series. As it is, she struck me as highly irritating because of her irrational belief that a skeleton with a seemingly random past must be a childhood friend who disappeared from Tempe's life in mysterious circumstances. As she tries to make the link using science, Tempe is distracted by Detective Andrew Ryan and their on-again/off-again (currently off - or is it?) relationship. Again, this probably appeals to those readers who have built up a relationship with Tempe in the previous novels. It did add a certain emotional angle, but the novel didn't really need this added angle because Tempe was already so stressed out by the thought of her childhood friend and the antics of her sister, Harry.

          As the story develops, a lot of the plot is developed through conversations. This gives the novel a certain sense of realism and sometimes allows for very slight comic touches, like the following:

          "You'll be proud of your baby sister."
          Oh no. "Tell me."

          Or this:

          "You sound like one of those travel brochures in the motel lobby."
          "I read four while you were doing touch-up on your bangs."
          "They were greasy."

          As I said, they're very slight comic touches. It also allows us to understand the relationships between characters through the tone and style of conversation, particularly when Tempe is trying to talk to Andrew or her sister. This does also mean that a lot of information can be given in an accessible way and the novel is at its most engaging when you are trying to work out where a story is going and how it might be relevant.

          There are several twists and turns in the plot, but unfortunately Reichs usually feels the need to point them out in a manner that out-dramatises James Patterson and is actually highly reminiscent of the teenage 'Point Horror' novels. Cliffhangers at the ends of chapters are dropped with as much subtlety as an atom bomb, then immediately mopped up at the beginning of the next chapter. I found this to be both irritating and an insult to my intelligence. Rather than making the novel a more compelling read, I found that I simply took breaks from reading when I was in the middle of dull chapters, rather than between chapters.

          Another issue related to Reichs' style is the amazing number of short sentences. They are everywhere. Really. Peppered through the text. Everywhere. And she repeats herself. Often. Now imagine this style. Sustained through a whole novel. I really do appreciate the value of using short sentences for effect, but I wish somebody had taught Reichs that they have much more effect when used in moderation, a bit like exclamation marks. Admittedly they are most often used when Tempe is finding some detail shocking, but that just emphasises the shock-horror approach of Reichs' narrative style. Personally, I prefer a bit of psychological depth to my crime fiction, but this is all about plot and surface characters.

          After the plot has developed, a suspect is found. Somehow this still fails to create suspense, perhaps because Reichs makes it clear that the officers on the case are all so exhausted and stressed that you are too busy feeling like they've had a hard time to really celebrate their finds. Once the dramatic climax is over, there is an explanatory chapter that neatly ties everything off. While I always hate being left wondering, I felt that a truly effective novel would have made most of those points clear during the build up or climax, rather than setting them out in the tidy-up.

          So what's the overall verdict? 'Bones to Ashes' is a poorly written but well-constructed crime fiction novel that contains a bit too much discussion of obtuse scientific points. I'm sure that fans will love it as it includes familiar characters and their relationships, but those looking for a thrilling crime novel should like elsewhere.

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