Newest Review: ... Ryan, a cop and also Tempe's love interest, who's been put on the case. Around the dead man is a shroud of religiousness and tension, with ... more
Digging Up Jesus
Cross Bones - Kathy Reichs
Member Name: cazkins
Cross Bones - Kathy Reichs
Advantages: Interesting premise, intelligent read
Disadvantages: Not quite so easy to read, slightly convoluted at times
I have now read and reviewed several Reichs novels, and always look forward to reading them, even if it's hard to remember which you've read because the titles are so similar! Whilst this one wasn't quite as easy to read, and not Reichs' best, it was still enjoyable.
The front cover tempts us in by telling us this is 'The new Tempe Brennan Bestseller'. Setting this book apart from others is its sense of factualness, as shown by the introductory pages giving us the facts about Masada, the setting for a 1st Century revolt of the Jewish against the Romans, and the following excavations done of the remains by Yadin.
So, what do the background facts have to do with the novel? To begin, a man is murdered and although the scene is set to suggest a suicide, things may be more complex. Enter Tempe Brennan, forensic anthropologist, who looks at bones and decomposed/burned bodies for the authorities, amongst other things she does (she's a very busy woman!). Enter Ryan, a cop and also Tempe's love interest, who's been put on the case. Around the dead man is a shroud of religiousness and tension, with the Jewish families involved not being all too happy about post-mortem dealings. When a mystery man at the hospital hands Tempe a photo of bones and disappears, the case suddenly starts to take a different direction.
It's very complicated to explain, so I won't go into much detail and give the whole plot away. Basically put, Jake, an archaeologist friend of Tempe's enters the scene with great interest in the photo she was given. The three investigate and dig deeper, until they're on a mission far more important, far more complex than they could have imagined. Going to the burial sites for themselves, looking in the loci in which bones have been buried whilst the authorities despise their presence, a question arises: Could the bones they're calling Masada Max be the bones of Jesus Christ?
Okay, so it's a little 'out-there'. However, Reichs has a way of making scenes and characters vivid, of bringing them to live and making them 3D and realistic. I found myself believing in what was happening and identifying with the characters, thanks to her persuasive and richly detailed style of writing. Nonetheless, it's the latter that also comes with a potential downside. The detail is quite complex, this time not just in terms of biology, archaeology and anthropology, but also in terms of history and religion. I found this harder to digest at times, which made it slightly less easy to read and instead took away a smidge of enjoyment.
Having said that, I still loved the characters. If you've read a Reichs novel before you'll be familiar with both Tempe and Ryan, and their relationship, though not having this background knowledge isn't a drawback when reading because Reichs fills us in on all the detail we need to know anyway. It's just an added bonus really, and I always enjoy reading about them; there's something about these two characters that make them identifiable, that enable you to imagine them clearly. I also like the edge of sarcasm and humour Reichs injects, which adds to the overall tone of sharp wit and intelligence throughout the novel.
As a reader of previous novels, however, there was a lack of interest in other characters, such as LaManche, because a great deal of this book takes us to a different location, ie. Jerusalem, and so a lot of the recognisable names/areas/faces get less attention. It's not necessarily a 'bad' thing, but I found the settings and content at times a little convoluted and overly complex, which, as I've already said, dampened the enjoyment and ability to really get lost in this book.
Further praise for Reichs can be found on the back, including : 'The science is fascinating, and every minute in the morgue with Tempe is golden' - The NYT Book Review, and 'It's becoming apparent that Reichs is not just "as good as" Cornwell, she has become the finer writer' - Daily Express.
All in all, this is still an intelligent, original read, though I wouldn't say it's one of Reichs' best.
348 pages over 41 chapters
Summary: Not one of Reich's best pieces but an intelligent read nonetheless