The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs (Tempe Brennan #20) @KathyReichs @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

Source: Review copy
Publication: 29 April 2021 from Simon & Schuster
PP: 368
ISBN-13: 978-1471188893

My thanks to Simon & Schuster and Random Things Tours for an advance copy for review


When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years.

At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable.

With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, in a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases – and that both the murders and the disease outbreak have a common cause . . .

A new book about forensic anthropologist , Temperance Brennan is always a cause for celebration. I found that in her 20th book in this series – (what an achievement!) Reichs can still pull it out of the bag.

It’s hurricane season and as ever Tempe, who lives between Charlotte in North Carolina and Montreal, is always in the wrong place when the hurricane strikes. As the book opens Tempe is in North Carolina with her cat Birdie, and missing her partner, retired Montreal Homicide Detective, Andrew Ryan.

Tempe is cleaning up in Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office, ready to head home before the hurricane hits when an elderly woman asks for her. She has a find for Tempe – pictures of a woman, including a death mask, which the woman believes may belong to a long gone relative.

Then, post hurricane, two bodies are washed up on the South Carolina shore. They are badly decomposed and have been sealed in a medical waste container. Wrapped in plastic, they are badly decomposed. Each has received a single bullet to the head, and each is missing teeth and fingers, rendering identification almost impossible. These bodies stir a memory within Tempe’s brain and she recalls an old case in Quebec some 15 years ago, which mirrors this discovery. That case was never solved. Fortunately she has Ryan to call on to help her investigate.

While Tempe is investigating these bodies, she asks Anna, her high maintenance friend, to look into the death masks case. All the while, hovering in the background in news reports and conversations, is the knowledge that there is an ongoing outbreak of something called capnocytophaga (capno) which manifests itself first in dogs who then pass it along to humans on whom it has a devastating impact. As yet there is no cure and this is a growing problem.

Coming on top of the CoVid virus, this may be tough reading for some, but Reichs has highlighted here something that we should, at the very least, be aware of. While we marvel at the way that scientists have managed to come up with a vaccine to help us deal with CoVid, so we should be aware that now that we have the knowledge of how to tackle such viruses, there will always be those who seek to use that knowledge unscrupulously. The whole issue of gene editing and virus management is one that will not go away and as a society we should be learning as much as we can in order to engage in the debate around the ethical issues before it is too late.

On the other hand, I’ll be interested in how this book is received in America, where the vaccine programme is meeting resistance and all efforts are pointed to making sure people understand how safe it is. The timing of this book will certainly make for some interesting debates, I reckon. At the very least, I know understand better than I did before just why they ask me if I’m allergic to eggs before I get my flu jab!

This is Tempe’s narrative and we follow her as she travels between North Carolina and Montreal working primarily on the bodies in the barrel case, while she asks Anne to do some research on the death masks.

Working with the Charleston Police and in particular with Detective Tonia Vislovsky, a policewoman whose modus operandi is brusque and unforgiving, the pair set out to find out who these women are, how they link to the cold case of 15 years ago and who the killer is. As they travel together they reach an understanding which shoukd stand them in good stead for future investogations.

Reichs weaves the science and the personalities together very well and the small personal details and tinges of humour peppered through her relationships with Anne, Ryan and of course her most important relationship with Birdie, help to keep the science just one part of this complex human equation.

Verdict: The pace is good, the plot is highly topical and nicely woven as Tempe once more gets the dead to give up their secrets and help her to solve the case. There are references to Tempe’s brain tumour that was the focus of her last book, mirroring Reich’s own experience, but fortunately that seems to be in the past and we hope it stays that way so that we can enjoy Book 21!                  Waterstones                    Hive Stores

Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead was a number one bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. The Bone Code is Kathy’s twentieth entry in her series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Kathy was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones,which is based on her work and her novels.
Dr. Reichs is one of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and as a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada.

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Published by marypicken

Passionate book reader. Love all kind of books from 19th century novels to crime thrillers. My blog is predominantly crime, psychological thrillers and police procedurals with a good helping of literary fiction thrown in.

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