Saturday, 1 June 2013

Audiobook Review: BONES ARE FOREVER by Kathy Reichs

Bones Are Forever

Title: Bones are Forever (Audiobook version)
Author: Kathy Reichs
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Read: May 19 - June 1, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Kathy Reichs, #1 New York Times bestselling author and producer of the Fox hit series Bones, is at her brilliant best in a riveting novel featuring forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan—a story of infanticide, murder, and corruption set in the high-stakes, high-danger world of diamond mining.Temperance Brennan has been asked to examine the corpses of three dead babies in Montreal. It’s a difficult assignment, complicated further by the fact that her long-time flame Detective Ryan is investigating the infants’ mother, a former (and possibly current) prostitute. When the woman flees to Edmonton, the investigation is joined by Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant with whom Tempe had an ill-advised fling over a decade earlier. The dissonant team heads to remotest Yellowknife—mining country—to pursue an ever more sinister trail.

With the Fox series Bones in its seventh season and her popularity at its broadest ever, Kathy Reichs reaches new heights in storytelling and suspense-building. Bones Are Forevershimmers with sexual tension, crackling dialogue, and the thrilling twists Reichs delivers so well.

My thoughts:

Tempe Brennan is at it again – sent to examine the remains of several dead babies, this intrepid forensic anthropologist gets entangled in a police investigation which takes on a completely new dimension when it implicates the development of a new diamond mine in the far North of Canada as being a key player in an intricate web of deceit and murder.

Bones are Forever is the 15th book in the Temperance Brennan series, which forms the basis of the TV hit series Bones (which by the way does not do much for me). Being interested in forensics, I have long enjoyed Reich’s explanations of forensic and medical details woven into her novels, based on her own experiences as forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Quebec. Reichs’ vast knowledge is evident in her descriptions of the role of the forensic anthropologist, and the procedures involved in different investigations. However, I felt that Bones are Forever contained so much technical detail that it overshadowed the main storyline, and at times read almost like a textbook. Having chosen to enjoy the novel as an audiobook, I struggled to keep track of the vast cast of characters as well as the many facts and figures crucial to the storyline which were quite hard to retain by listening. This was not helped by the format of the audiobook, which was narrated in huge junks that did not allow rewinding to different sections – I also had difficulty telling apart the voices of the different characters in dialogues, which contributed to a lot of confusion and losing the thread of the plot several times. For fans of Reichs’ novels, who are interested in forensic detail and not easily put off by technical information, I would definitely recommend the printed version of the book, where you can flip back pages or take your time to take in the information.

Personally, to me the plot felt contrived at times, with too many twists and turns in the investigation to be credible. Initially drawn in by the emotional pain the find of several dead babies would cause, I felt that their role was not given enough justice in the end and left many questions unanswered. Brennan’s talent for putting herself in the line of fire and defy the authority of the main case investigators did not befit her professional status, even if I understand the author’s goal to build tension and suspense by endangering the main protagonist. And whilst I am listing all my gripes – I hate the way each chapter ends with a cliffhanger – arrrgh!

With all that off my chest, the book was an enjoyable enough read – and I already have the next instalment loaded on my kindle for future reading. With recent developments in Brennan’s personal life, I do look forward to re-visiting her character in future novels. I would recommend Bones are Forever to fans of Reichs’ previous works – however, if you have never picked up any of her other novels, I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series to get a feel for the characters and Temperance Brennan’s role.

This book forms part of my 2013 Audiobook Challenge.

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