Temperance Brennan is called out on an unusual (even for her) assignment by the coroner of the Quebec police department. As the official forensic anthropologist to the Province of Quebec, Dr. Brennan is tasked with determining the identity and cause of death of bodies that are otherwise unidentifiable. In her career in both the French-speaking province of Quebec and her American base in North Carolina, she has had to wade through swamps, dig through chemical-filled toxic waste barrels, unearth bodies from landfills and roadside graves, and sift through plane wrecks. If you’ve followed Tempe’s colorful career, you’ve become inured to the gruesome details of her profession. Whether the bodies are mummified, burned beyond recognition, or unearthed after so long a time they are beyond the standard means of available to local authorities, Tempe is able to piece together the elusive clues that the dead have to reveal of who they were, how they died, and often discovering the killer’s identity.
"Fans relish the explicit forensic minutiae and often, as in the case of BONES ARE FOREVER, receive the bonus of a comprehensive and fascinating background on diamonds, their creation and the complexities of extracting them from the earth."
In BONES ARE FOREVER, Tempe is summoned to a tenement apartment recently occupied by Amy Roberts, who had shown up at a hospital emergency room bleeding heavily following the apparent birth of a baby. She slipped out of the emergency room, which led to summoning the police, who suspected foul play. They searched her empty apartment looking for her or a newborn, but the only evidence they found were bloody towels in a dumpster behind the building. No woman. And no baby.
Tempe finds not one but three tiny corpses tenderly wrapped in towels hidden behind walls in the apartment. An investigation leads to evidence that Amy, who has several aliases, is a Native American prostitute who may have fled to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. This leads to involvement by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as Tempe and her former flame, Quebec homicide detective Andrew Ryan, head into the Canadian wilds. Ryan’s RCMP counterpart, Sergeant Ollie Ryan, turns out to have had a brief acquaintance with Tempe, much to the embarrassment of all three, which leads to a very testy trio who must travel together deep into the Canadian interior to track down the elusive mother and possible murderer of her newborn babies.
They uncover a much more sinister situation in Yellowknife, a rough outpost at the beginning of the infamous Ice Road. Amy’s disappearance and the infant deaths are linked through a criminal connection in the growing diamond trade in the frozen wastelands. When Tempe identifies the genes of the deceased infants, she discovers that their iindigenous genes put their mother and her sisters in jeopardy.
Tempe’s trademark attention to detail delivers fascinating insight into a little known or understood connection between diamond mining and the cruel price paid by the men and women who work for the mining companies. The local residents who originally worked the played-out gold mines are dependent on the developing diamond mining industry. The destruction of the natural wildlife habitat surrounding the vast surface pits being bored into the earth in search of the world’s most coveted gems is attracting another element to the region: organized crime.
If you are a follower of the obsessive-compulsive television version of Tempe Brennan and her marriage to her FBI husband, and the book version of the single, independent woman whose love affairs often complicate her life, you will recognize the complexity of keeping the two heroines straight. These two women with the same name and profession couldn’t be more different, yet Kathy Reichs remains thoroughly involved in both the screenwriting and her bestselling novels. In real life, Reichs is just as complex and brilliant as her characters, as she knows this rare profession as a veteran practitioner. It is her attention to detail and many years of rich personal experience that lend authenticity to the details in each of her endeavors.
Fans relish the explicit forensic minutiae and often, as in the case of BONES ARE FOREVER, receive the bonus of a comprehensive and fascinating background on diamonds, their creation and the complexities of extracting them from the earth. For some, it may lead to questioning the real worth of the tiny sparkling gem that stands for love and devotion, but is derived at a larger cost in human lives and environmental destruction.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on August 24, 2012