I’ve been a fan of the TV series Bones since it first aired in 2005. So it was only natural that I would start reading the mystery novels the show is based on, written by real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs. While initially disappointed that the books have little in common with the TV show besides the main character’s name and occupation, I found the first couple of books in the series (Deja Dead and Death du Jour) entertaining. But as I read the next few books, things started getting a little… predictable. Not the plots themselves, those are all twistedly complex. But in every book, three things would happen: Temperance Brennan would drink a lot of Diet Coke, she would wander off on her own and do something stupid that would enable the bad guys to attack her, and someone close to her would wind up in Terrible Danger. I eventually stopped reading the series, partly because I’d tired of those three things happening, and partly because I had other things to read.
However, I recently picked up Spider Bones, a much more recent entry in the series, and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it contains can after can of Diet Coke, Tempe wandering off alone, and her loved ones winding up in Terrible Danger. But the dialog is a lot more realistic than in the earlier books, the forensic jargon gets worked in more naturally, and the plot is as hard to guess as ever. Maybe it also helped that this book has a fresh setting: Hawaii. The other ones I’ve read take place primarily in Canada and North Carolina, and relocating most of the action to a new locale was a nice change.
Spider Bones concerns the remains of “Spider” Lowry, which Brennan identifies in present-day Canada. Except he supposedly died in Vietnam in the 1960s. So who’s buried in his grave? And why do more remains turn up sporting one of his dog tags? Like Reichs’ other novels, there are a lot of grisly descriptions of decomposed bodies, which mean this series is not for anyone squeamish who is blessed with a vivid imagination. And there are jokes about sexually deviant behavior, which one corpse was engaged in just prior to becoming a corpse, so this is also not for those who would find such material offensive. However, if you are a fan of forensic crime shows like the CSI trio or, yes, Bones, you might dig this book — and series — quite a lot.