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Cross Bones


Cross Bones

When bodies in Montreal are too decayed or in too many pieces, or
the cause of death too complex for the coroner's office, forensic
anthropologist Tempe Brennan is called. A seemingly routine
examination of a gunshot victim leads Tempe to a case that will
take her from Canada to Israel in search of the bones the victim
may have been killed for. Soon, the ancient and mysterious bones
take center stage as Tempe, along with Detective Andrew Ryan and
archeologist Jake Drum, try to learn who this ancient skeleton
really was so that no one else will have to die trying to steal or
hide it.

Kathy Reichs's latest book, CROSS BONES is, on the surface, a crime
novel with an emphasis on forensics. But as the plot unfolds it
becomes clear that she is tackling much larger and more
controversial issues. Tempe Brennan and the others soon have reason
to believe that the bones the man in Montreal was killed for may
actually be Jesus! Or, if not Jesus, then either a blood relation
or perhaps someone from Masada. In any case, the identity of the
skeleton has potentially huge ramifications for world religions and

At the center of the story are several theories about the life of
Jesus as well as the details about the Jewish freedom fighters at
Masada: Did Jesus survive the crucifixion and live many years
afterward? Did he have a family with many siblings or perhaps
children of his own? Did he actually end up at Masada? Reichs's
story is not really like THE DA VINCI CODE although it skirts
around some of the same theories. In fact, it actually refers to
Dan Brown's novel a few times. Reichs is instead interested in
ancient history as known through anthropology and archaeology, and
the murders are a way to get us all to Israel and give urgency to
the quest to understand the skeleton.

Fans of murder mysteries, detective fiction and forensic drama, as
well as those interested in religious fiction, all will find
something to enjoy in CROSS BONES. The forensic anthropology aspect
is detailed without being very gruesome or overly scientific. It is
a fun and interesting whodunit with religious implications but
without being preachy or even very religious in nature itself. The
writing is solid and the pace is just right, perhaps a bit slower
and less dramatic than similar novels or even Reichs's previous
Tempe Brennan books. Tempe Brennan is a likeable and, for the most
part, realistic character.

Reichs bases some of her story on actual archaeological finds (and
frauds) in Israel, giving just enough truth to make it quite
interesting and unique. She references the work of archaeologist
James Tabor as well as the controversial James Ossuary, supposedly
discovered by Oded Golan in Israel several years ago. Indeed, you
can find a plethora of information about many of the artifacts,
archeology and theories she refers to online or in the

CROSS BONES is a good mix of fiction and nonfiction presenting many
alternate theories about the life of the historical Jesus.


Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on December 28, 2010

Cross Bones
by Kathy Reichs

  • Publication Date: June 28, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 0743233484
  • ISBN-13: 9780743233484