Book Review: A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs

Posted July 10, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs
Series: Temperance Brennan #19
Genres: Mystery, Forensics
Published by Scribner on March 17, 2020
Pages: 348
Format: eBook
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also in this series: MatchUp, The Bone Collection

Also by this author: Bones Never Lie, Speaking in Bones, The Bone Collection

Nineteenth in the Temperance Brennan forensics mystery series and revolving around a forensics anthropologist with this story set in Charleston, North Carolina.

My Take

This may not be the best time for Tempe to take on all these projects. Remodeling her annex so Ryan can have some space, dealing with her aneurysm, battling her paranoia and crazy new boss. It’s that first person protagonist point-of-view from Tempe’s perspective that keeps us so informed on her frustrations. And it was danged annoying!

Fortunately, the case is fascinating, and how they managed to pull it all together was most impressive. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know they had Reichs’, ahem, insights, lol, but it truly was a maze of nothingness.

On the other hand, Tempe’s pursuit of the case and some of the clues are a mess! I’m wondering if Reichs has a brain tumor that’s driving her mad? Some of the red herrings made sense; others were a real leap, at least to my mind.

Why doesn’t anyone ever wonder about that painter and if he’d had anything to do with the arson?? I kept waiting.

Okay, so Slidell is a volunteer cop helping with cold-cases. He sure does seem to have the run of the department.

How did this Heavner ever get hired?? She’s so lacking in moral fiber!

Whoa, there is plenty of tech going on in here. From hiding information inside images to the Dark Net to GPS tracking to email — yep, this is what sets Tempe off, so watch what you click!

Oh, there’s plenty of action, as well as plenty of Tempe griping away. Oy. Her whining is part of what made this tale seem so slow and long-winded.

On the plus side, don’t ya just love karma?

The Story

First it’s the series of images and text messages showing up on Tempe’s phone from an unidentified sender. Then an unidentified corpse shows up, and the new forensic director is messing up, big time.

Anxious due to her new boss and wondering who sent the texts, Tempe goes rogue and dives in to investigate with the help of Slidell.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes…

The Characters

Dr Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who switches between North Carolina and Québec. She’s recently had surgery for an aneurysm, which is really making her nutso. Birdie is her independent cat.

Former Lieutenant-détective Andrew Ryan is Tempe’s longtime lover who has retired and started up a private investigation agency. Lily had been Ryan’s drug-addicted daughter who died.

Katy, in the Army and posted to Afghanistan, is her daughter with her ex-husband, Pete. Boyd is his dog; he’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Mama, a.k.a., Daisy, a.k.a., Katherine Daessee Lee Brennan, is Tempe’s crazy-as-a-sock-puppet mama who has been diagnosed with cancer and is currently living at Heatherhill Farm. She is brilliant at research on the Internet. Mama has a boyfriend, Clayton Sinitch, who has a drycleaning empire in Arkansas. Harry is Tempe’s sister who lives in Texas. She flew to Iceland with a guy named Mookey. Kevin is the toddler brother who died of leukemia.

Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s is…
…where Tempe consults when in Charlotte; she also teaches at UNCC. Dr Timothy Larabee had been her boss and the chief medical examiner. The evil, publicity hungry Dr Margot Heavner, a.k.a., Dr Morgue, a forensic pathologist and author, is Tempe’s new boss. Joe Hawkins is a death investigator and autopsy tech.

Charlotte PD…sort of…
Former-detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell is now a private investigator, collaborating sometimes with Ryan. He also volunteers with the CMPD cold-case unit. Verlene Wryznyk has moved in with Slidell. Mittie Peppers works in Questioned Documents. Detective Conover works in Violent Crimes?? Officers Torrance and Spano are backup. Hilda is a golden retriever working as a cadaver dog.

The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department
Detective Ben Spevack is the lead on the body found by the river. Ardis Goncalves and Jaden Fazio found him. Dodie Fazio made the call for them. Sheriff’s Deputy Cory Jenkins was the first responder. Bill Poston is the sheriff, a real wankwad who wants no part of the case.

Nick Body is a sleazy, right-wing radio broadcaster who’ll say anything to get a rise out of people. AvaLeigh Tayman is Body’s young daughter. Floy Unger is one of Nick’s employees and has been in prison. Hollister Kimrey, a.k.a., Molly Holly, had been a violin prodigy who now sells drugs. Now he’s Body’s gopher and dealer. Otto Schneller, a Vodyanov cousin, owns a pea-green house. Russak is a neighbor.

Felix Vodyanov, a.k.a., F. Vance, does research. Mrs Ramos is Felix’s landlord in town. Hugo Garcia is a fellow tenant and neighbor. Felix’s mother, Tatiana Yanova, was a Russian who got out. She married Aleksandr Vodyanov, but he was killed. Particularly sad, as Tatiana was a vicious bitch who brutalized her children.

Yates Timmer is a retired Army engineer specializing in underground military structures. World’s End House is his home, a former missile silo through which he gives tours. Bing is Timmer’s ex-football-player bouncer. Flora is a potential buyer.

Vincent Aiello, a.k.a., Twist, is a patent lawyer who likes kiddie porn. PlaySchool is a kiddie porn site that used to be run by Sammy Lowenstein.

Duncan Keesing is a vet with PTSD; his cat’s name is Sarge. Art runs the junkyard where John Ito‘s car is found.

Hardin Symes was the dead child’s name. Bethyl Symes had been his grandmother. Jonathan Fox had been charged with his murder. He was also suspected of eight-year-old Jack Jaebernin‘s and ten-year-old Chelsea‘s disappearances. And deaths. Jahaan Cole was nine when she went missing. Brightie Cole had been her mother. Cootie Clanahan is Brightie’s neighbor. Timothy Horshauser is still missing. His parents are divorced: Janelle is an RN, and Paul is an auto mechanic. Birgitte England had been Timmy’s maternal aunt. April Siler just went missing. Penelope Koster pressed charges against Unger.

The Bureau du Coroner is…
…where Tempe works when in La Belle Province in Montreal, Quebec. Dr Pierre LaManche is the head pathologist and Tempe’s boss.

Dorothée Pasquerault wasn’t even 17 when she was murdered.

Secret projects
MKUltra was a code name for a CIA mind-control program run by Sidney Gottlieb. The Montreal part of the program, MKUltra subproject 68, was conducted at McGill University and run by Dr Donald Ewen Cameron. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield approved some of the torture.

BRES is Brown and Root Energy Services hired to work the wrecked ferry. The Navy called the Philadelphia Experiment a hoax. The Montauk Project in Long Island explored time travel as part of psychological warfare. The Star Gate Project, renamed the Stargate Project, was run by the DIA and SRI International studying psychic phenomena.

DeepUnder is…
…in the Dark Net. Sandy Hook massacre. Another link leads to “The Watchdogs“.

Dr Paulette Youngman is a friend and colleague whose specialty is entomology. Dr Lizzy Griesser, a friend with a degree in molecular biology, currently does DNA phenotyping in Virginia, but comes back for the flavors every few months. Tempe has been visiting Lizzy’s mom, Temple Griesser, who’s at the assisted-living and retirement community, Sharon Towers. Anne is a real estate agent friend who sells high-end homes, but hasn’t heard of DeepHaven Ventures LLC. Walter is Tempe’s retired neighbor who’s still handy with a fire extinguisher. Derek is Tempe’s paper boy in North Carolina.

Sparkling Waters is…
…a spiritual retreat and healing center run by Dr Aryan Yuriev, who specializes in homeopathic wellness and stress-management. Eunice Desai is the first receptionist and Asia’s cousin; Z. Lantzler is the second one. Asia Barrow had been Vodyanov’s primary counselor, er, life coach.

Journalists include Gerry Breugger, who works freelance, and Fessie Green, who works the Observer crime beat. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and NamUs are websites that post info on missing children. Suzy is the waitress at Barrington’s. Neville is a missing horse that Ryan is searching for in France. Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Harris Teeter is a grocery store. Fred/Frank is the useless painter. Harcourt was walking his poodle, Larry, who sniffed out Tempe. Georgia is a grim nurse at the hospital. Dr Gursahani works there. Dr Bernard is Tempe’s neurologist. Steganography is all about hiding a message so no one knows it’s there.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a black background, which provides excellent contrast with the fibrous red skull, the top of which gets stretched out into trees. I’m guessing it’s a metaphor for Tempe’s aneurysm and subsequent “forest for the trees” paranoia. At the very top is an info blurb in white. Below that is the author’s name in silver and “shadowed” in white. In the lower half is the title in white with the series information below that at the bottom. Also in white.

The title is true enough, for there is A Conspiracy of Bones, as the co-conspirators work to hide the truth.

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