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I've read and reviewed a few Reichs novels now and always look forward to reading her books. Being a wannabe American detective, despite being neither American nor a detective, I love Reichs' attention to detail, forensic analyses, depth of characters and gripping writing style. Flash And Bones didn't disappoint me; it kept me turning pages from start to finish and so this is one I'd give a thumbs up for checking out.
On the cover we're told that this is by the 'No.1 Bestselling Author', along with a rather long tag line : 'A horrific murder. A deadly conspiracy. Dr Tempe Brennan puts her life on the line in the hunt for the truth'. This falls within the crime thriller genre and highly rated within this area, being at the top of my picks of excellent authors.
We're introduced to Reich's popular protagonist, Dr Tempe Brennan, a Forensic Anthropologist. There's no rest for the wicked as she wants to settle down with her cat, Birdie, and enjoy some quiet some, except that a dead body is found in a barrel of asphalt at the Charlotte Racetrack. NASCAR races are about to begin and there's a lot of hype in Charlotte, with this mystery body about to cause quite the commotion. Except it's not the only body, and unfortunately there seems to be no quick identification or explanation for it being there. The brother of a girl that went missing several years ago with her boyfriend turns up on Brennan's doorstep, wondering if the body could be one of them. It seems unlikely, but this brother's story is an interesting one.
The brother believes there was some cover-up over his sister's disappearance, that there was more going on because of the links her boyfriend had to racist political groups. He also believes he's now being stalked, that someone doesn't want the truth to bubble up with the emergence of the body, if indeed it is one of the missing kids. Without saying anymore on the premise as such, I will just say that as the story unravels, we're given a lot of different facets and pieces of the puzzle become something far different to what we were necessarily led to initially believe. The question is, whose body was found and why were they killed? With the help of Detective Slidell, Detective Galimore who worked an old case potentially linked to the recent crimes, and the forensics team she works with, can Brennan figure it out in time?
The premise has twists and turns that will keep you guessing and it's quite different in the sense that Reichs always introduces something new. This time, it's NASCAR racing as the backdrop, and in the foreground is still the nitty gritty of forensics and good old fashioned detective work. I would say it got quite complex in the sense that lots of characters quickly became involved and there were several pieces of the puzzle to juggle at any one time, but Reichs is able to clearly lay the cards on the table and keep up on track of what's going on without confusing us too much.
One of my favourite things about Reichs' novels is how she writes from Brennan's perspective and really brings the character to life as an intelligent yet down-to-earth woman with a sarcastic wit that I can help but smirk at when I read. The host of characters she introduces, in particular the key players like Brennan and Slidell, are brought to life with depth and so they, and the relationships between them, are easier to imagine and are thus more believable. They have warmth because we grow to understand them better, especially Brennan. For instance, throughout the investigation we learn about her daily home life, her relationships and her inner thought processes, making her interesting to read about and the reader more able to identify and empathise with her.
Likewise for the scenes, which are drawn vividly for us to imagine. Reichs uses lots of detail to build the picture and I find this really helps with making the novel easier to read, to understand and to get hooked on. What I also love about her novels is her way of educating us whilst entertaining us. We learn about Charlotte, racing and bits of forensics as the story unfolds so I do end up feeling a bit more knowledgeable by the end of it. It also means the novel feels more authentic and credible, having been well-researched and planned out. I can see that some may think the detail is a little over the top and complex, however I like this aspect of her writing. Granted, there is some re-capping involved (such as what a forensic anthropologist is and who certain people in her life are) but that's for the benefit of those unfamiliar with Reichs' Brennan novels. For fans, it's great to hear about characters we already know about, giving us that little bit more familiarity whilst reading.
Whilst the novel is quite dark, dealing with murder and revenge and all that jazz, it also has plenty of lighter moments to keep it entertaining. Like I said with Brennan's wit, the use of her ex and his new fiancé introduces a side storyline that made me chuckle.
Further praise can be found on the back of the book for Reichs in general, including "Reichs has reasserted her supremacy in the field' - The Independent. She really has made a name for herself and carved out her own niche in the genre by weaving intricate details and a strong knowledge base to create something both intelligent and entertaining.
All in all this is one I'd recommend, both for fans and those unfamiliar with Reichs. It's a gripping, intelligent and entertaining read that draws us in with the warmth of characters and the promise of good detective work that makes a good crime thriller novel.
36 chapters over 271 pages
Selling on Amazon for £5.59 (paperback)