It’s the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway with nearly a quarter of a million fans heading to North Carolina in anticipation of the big event. When workers uncover an asphalt-filled barrel with a human hand sticking out of the black goo, one of the biggest racing events of the season is threatened to come to a screeching halt while the medical examiner and police investigate. Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is called in to attempt to ID the body.
Fans of [Reichs's] bestselling mysteries who also watch the hit television detective show “Bones,” which arose from the books, realize how completely different the personalities of the two Temperance Brennans are between the printed page and the small screen.
Wayne Gamble, who works at the raceway, contacts police when word of the body’s discovery spreads quickly among fellow employees. His sister, Cindi, and her boyfriend, Cale Lovette, had vanished mysteriously from a restaurant at the raceway 12 years earlier, never to be heard from again. Lovette was heavily involved with a right-wing terrorist group that went underground shortly after he vanished. Speculation on the reasons for their sudden disappearance ranged from runaway lovers to kidnapping and murder, but Cindi’s family suspected foul play. Local authorities conducted a brief investigation, but abandoned the search for the two after the FBI became involved. Cindi’s brother had refused to give up wondering what happened to his sister, so he returned to the police to find out if the unidentified remains could possibly be her or her boyfriend. He also told the authorities that he knew he was being followed and was sure someone was spying on him at work. The police didn’t take him seriously, so when he discovered that Temperance was also looking into identifying the body, he turned to her for help.
Meanwhile, Temperance raises questions with the local police when she discovers a puzzling chemical substance in the asphalt surrounding the body. When the body and all evidence is stolen from the morgue in the middle of the night, she insists that the case be reopened and is met with the same stern resistance, not from the local authorities but from the FBI. She is told in no uncertain terms to back off by two determined FBI agents who deliberately steer her in the wrong direction to protect their data and sources. This only deepens Temperance’s suspicions of a massive cover-up of something bigger than the disappearance of two lovers.
The investigation leads into dangerous territory as she continues to probe for evidence. As she tracks down the officers who covered the missing persons case years ago, the few clues that remain point in so many different directions that she calls on retired cops to try to retrace their steps. She learns that the local lead detective, who died recently in the line of duty, had left behind a notebook of handwritten notes. Temperance looks up his former partner, now a private detective with a shady past, who seems overly eager to help her uncover the truth.
When an environmental researcher suddenly vanishes and two more people die, Temperance turns up the heat on the investigation. With or without the FBI’s cooperation, she is determined to get to the bottom of what may be a crime with national safety concerns. This leads her directly in the path of grave danger as she closes in on the truth.
In her professional life, author Kathy Reichs is a professor of forensic anthropology at the University of North Carolina and also serves as an anthropologist in the department of legal medicine in Quebec, Canada. Fans of her bestselling mysteries who also watch the hit television detective show “Bones,” which arose from the books, realize how completely different the personalities of the two Temperance Brennans are between the printed page and the small screen. In the books, her on-again, off-again romance with a Canadian detective and her tribulations with her former husband complicate her personal life. In FLASH AND BONES, it only gets more interesting, which of course is what you would expect from this complex woman.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on July 5, 2011