Saturday, May 23, 2009

Guest Blog - Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs

I learned about Kathy Reichs last summer while I was staying in Toronto and reading crime mysteries written by Canadian authors. I mistakenly thought that Reichs was one since she works out of Montreal as well as North Carolina. However, she is actually a native of Chicago and received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. However, her first book Déjà Dead won the Ellis Award for Best First Novel in 1997. The television series Bones is based on her novels. Although I have not actually watched one of the episodes, after reading Grave Secrets I have an incentive.

Grave Secrets is not centered around deaths in either Montreal or Raleigh. The main character and voice in Reichs' mysteries is Temperance Brennan who like Reichs is a forensic anthropologist. The story begins in Guatemala where Tempe is volunteering her time to help identify the remains of Mayan people who were killed during the civil war that lasted from 1962 to 1996. The remains of twenty-three women and children have been lying at the bottom of a well since 1982. Tempe and her team are there to retrieve the bones and identify them so that they can be properly buried by their families.

The mystery is intriguing and the story moves quickly. It never gets bogged down anywhere, but if you have too much imagination, the retrieval of a decomposed body from a septic tank may be too graphic. Since I am in Montreal at the moment, I was pleased that Brennan returns to Montreal for a part of the novel. It was fun to be able to recognize where her neighborhood is located and where the holding cells are.

I thoroughly enjoyed Reichs and am looking forward to reading other mysteries written by her. However, there was one aspect of the story that nagged at me. Throughout the book, Brennan asks herself again and again and again, “Will the killing never end?” She is so tired of death. I wanted very much to yell at her, “Get a grip, woman! If you are tired of dead bodies, change your profession!” I’ll let you know if in Reichs' later novels, Brennan is less likely to bemoan the fact that she is surrounded by dead bodies.

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