Thursday, September 15, 2011

Flash and Bones, by Kathy Reichs

Flash and Bones is something of a comeback for the Temperance Brennan series--a straightforward mystery with just one setting, Tempe's hometown of Charlotte, NC. In a Q&A at the end of the book, author Kathy Reichs talks about having an A story line, a B story line, and a C story line in her books. The A story line here is a body discovered at the landfill next to the NASCAR racetrack, covered in asphalt and sealed in a rusted barrel. The B story is a decade-old missing persons case that Tempe gets drawn into when the brother of one of the missing people comes into the medical examiner's office to ask if the victim found in the landfill might be his sister. The C story, according to Reichs, is Tempe's love life--while there's a new man (disgraced cop and head of racetrack security Cotton Galimore) to whom she's attracted in this book, not much really happens on that front, and her old love interests are mostly missing from the book. However, there is also a story line revolving around Tempe's almost-ex-husband Pete and his impending marriage to the ditzy Summer, which adds comic relief.

Another way of identifying the A, B, and C stories in Flash and Bones would be to look not at the cases, but the topics that are central to the story--here they are NASCAR, domestic extremism (in the form of militias), and biotoxins. As usual, Reichs weaves a lot of information into the narrative.

One of the things that distinguishes Reichs's books from some other mysteries is that the reader can actually figure out who the villain is; occasionally, this makes one wonder why Tempe has to be nearly killed before she figures it out, but at least there is no need for a long explanation of why the solution to the mystery came totally out of left field.

Overall, Flash and Bones is an enjoyable mystery.

Favorite passage:
"Ever hear of alienation of affectation?"

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