John Lowery was declared dead in 1968 - the victim of a Huey crash in Vietnam, his body buried long ago in North Carolina. Four decades later, Temperance Brennan is called to the scene of a drowning in Hemmingford, Quebec. The victim appears to have died while in the midst of a bizarre sexual practice. The corpse is later identified as John Lowery. But how could Lowery have died twice, and how did an American soldier end up in Canada?
Tempe sets off for the answer, exhuming Lowery's grave in North Carolina and taking the remains to Hawaii for reanalysis - to the headquarters of JPAC, the US military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which strives to recover Americans who have died in past conflicts. In Hawaii, Tempe is joined by her colleague and ex-lover Detective Andrew Ryan (how 'ex' is he?) and by her daughter, who is recovering from her own tragic loss. Soon another set of remains, with Lowery's dog tags tangled among them. Three bodies - all identified as Lowery.
And then Tempe is contacted by Hadley Perry, Honolulu's flamboyant medical examiner, who needs help identifying the remains of an adolescent boy found offshore. Was he the victim of a shark attack? Or something much more sinister?
..... Inner front cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): The air smelled of sun-warmed bark and apple buds raring to blossom and get on with life.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 101): Human pigmentation is contained solely in the epidermis, the skin's outer layer. Lose the epidermis, we all look Scandinavian, a fact often misinterpreted by those unaccustomed to seeing bodies recovered from water.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Keep it.
I'm normally a huge fan of Kathy Reichs and her creation, forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, but admit to feeling a tad disappointed with this the 13th book in the series which you might like to know was also released under the title Mortal Remains.
Never written to appeal to the faint-hearted or those with weak stomachs, Spider Bones even found me feeling queasy from time to time. And I certainly had no real desire to know so much about autoeroticism - the bizarre sexual practice mentioned in the inner cover blurb.
Too wordy - yes, I know that sounds strange, after all it is a book, and what else would I expect apart from words? - at times I found myself at a total loss as to what was happening, my mind wondering. However, that said, the ending was totally unexpected and certainly had the wow factor.
The thing that really annoyed me though, apart from Tempe's somewhat hazardous life (When will the author give her a break? All that turmoil becomes a bit repetitive, not to mention boring, after a while)was the the word 'Blackberry' (no, not the fruit, the mobile phone manufacturer) - mentioned so many times I was beginning to think the company must have sponsored the book.
Oh, and whilst the actual medical jargon was, as always, totally fascinating, much of the legal jargon I could have well done without. Also the continuous references to all those organisations with long names was (yawn) rather tedious - the fact that the initials were also constantly used even more so. Perhaps a necessary 'evil', quite how this could have been avoided I don't know but it really spoilt the flow of the narrative for me personally.
Sounds like I didn't enjoy the book? I admit I don't think it was one of the best in the series and not the book I'd recommend to first-time readers of the series.
Which brings me nicely to the question can this be read as a stand-alone book. As every book in the series details a different case then yes BUT, if like me, following the lives of Tempe, her daughter, Katy (who incidentally is writing a blog which has unexpected consequences), and on/off lover, Ryan, is all part of the appeal then you'd best start at the beginning.
Purchased from Amazon, Spider Bones was the 47th book read in the 100+ Reading Challenge.