Review: Bones to Ashes, by Kathy Reichs

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: I find it hard to resist a Kathy Reichs’ book, even though I’m not particularly enamoured with her style – I find the gothic, damsel in distress mode just a little bit annoying. But her plot lines are always so interesting, and I never have any doubt that she’ll hold my interest with surprise twists all the way through. Bones to Ashes didn’t let me down in this respect, but there is one particular scene, near the end of the book, which took my credibility and stamped it all to shards and pieces … It was extremely hard coming back to the rhythm of the book after that. See below for the full review.

From the back cover:

The discovery of a skeleton in Acadia, Canada, reawakens a traumatic episode for forensic anthropologist Temperence Brennan: Could the young girls’ remains be those of Évangéline Landry, Tempe’s friend who disappeared when Tempe was twelve? Exotic, free-spirited, and slightly older, Évangéline enlivened Tempe’s summer beach visits … then vanished amid whispers that she was “dangerous”. Now, faced with bones scarred with inexplicable lesions, Tempe is consumed with solving a decades-old mystery – while her lover, detective Andrew Ryan, urgently needs her attention on a wave of teenage abductions and murders. With both Ryan and her ex-husband making surprising future plans, Tempe may soon find that her world has painfully and irrevocably changed once again.

Full Review of Bones to Ashes

I have an odd relationship with Kathy Reichs’ books: I never have them on my list of books I absolutely must read, althoughI find them hard to resist when I pass by them at the bookstore. I just don’t enjoy the whole gothic, damsel in distress style of the books; there are several chapters that end with “if only I had known”, and that particular phrase is on my list of top annoying things to read in a book.

But Reichs’ plots are usually complex and convoluted, and she writes about forensic matters in such an engaging way, when I do see her books on display, I usually can’t resist.

Which explains why I had Bones to Ashes in my to-read pile.

The plot in this book didn’t disappoint; as with previous Reichs books, it was interesting and fast-paced, producing a book you just have to read in one sitting if possible. The problem I had with this book was the strain to credibility. And I’m not talking about how everything fell into place so neatly at the end.

At the risk of this being a spoiler (and I’ll write it so that hopefully it isn’t a spoiler), at one point in the book Tempe and Ryan are in Quebec City, and Tempe learns that her impulsive younger sister is going to go to the home of a bad guy to keep an eye on him while Tempe and Ryan drive the two hours or so it will take them to get to Montreal.

Now, the bad guy is a seriously evil dude. The air is rife with concerns for the safety of Tempe’s sister, who is blithely not answering her cell phone. Let me add that Ryan is a member of the Sûreté du Québec, that is, the provincial Quebec police force. He happens to be working with another police officer who also happens to still be in Montreal. So what do Tempe and Ryan do? They race from Quebec City to Montreal, hoping against hope that nothing bad will happen to Tempe’s sister in the time it takes them to get there.

This is where my sense of credibility gets seriously lost. Because it just seems to me that, as an added measure of precaution, it can’t be that difficult to call Ryan’s partner in Montreal and ask him to head over there and head off Tempe’s sister. You know, take her to safety, far away from the bad guy. Let our heroes do their work without that added worry. Sure, you don’t get the added tension, but it just makes so much sense. I don’t think this is too much to ask, do you?

At any rate, this did rather sour the end of the novel for me. I can’t put this on my Recommended list, but I’ll say it’s readable. Ms. Bookish’s Rating: B-: Good Read ?

2 thoughts on “Review: Bones to Ashes, by Kathy Reichs

  1. Pingback: Review: Virals, by Kathy Reichs

  2. anna

    Interesting to read your review – I seem to have the opposite motives to read her books but with the same pleasing result:) I don’t really find her plots to be so exciting or surprising and on a few occasions I thought it was just dragging through redundant repetition of “but what does it mean” contemplations by Tempe. I can’t however resist her literary style – she is great at subtle but dead-on humor and little remarks that usually perfectly compliment her description of a character and she is good at portraying the smallest details of a persona to the point where you go “oh yeah, that kind of a guy”.
    I also really enjoy her sophisticated use of English. Together with the forensic and medical terms she so abundantly uses it always makes for a very educational session. I was a bit annoyed with the constant French vocabulary interspersed throughout – it seemed a snobby overkill and either you a)know French and don’t need it to be spoonfed with a clarification in English following right after or b)you don’t know French in which case I imagine it must be quite distracting and irritating.
    I have to agree with you that some minor parts of the story seemed far-fetched, especially the sister part you mention. I just thought it sounded outright silly and self-serving to inject the sister into it like that, it made no sense. Seemed like a lazy shortcut to bringing them all to the scene where it is then all kind of cheaply explained by Bastarache. I don’t know, don’t you sometimes get the feeling the author just was getting tired and wanted to get it done and over with and so after hundreds of pages of building the complexity and tension up the resolution is given in a quick and sort of a “there, now it all makes sense” manner? I’ve come across this quite a few times. Cross Bones felt similar too.


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