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Books 6: Mortal Remains (aka Spider Bones) by Kathy Reichs

Book 6: Mortal Remains (US: Spider Bones).
Author: Kathy Reichs, 2010
Genre: Forensic Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback. 320 pages.

The 13th in this series finds forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan called to the scene of a drowning in Quebec. Fingerprints identify the corpse to be John Lowery. However, Lowery was declared dead in 1968, the victim of a Huey crash in Vietnam and his body has been buried for the last 40 years in North Carolina.

In order to solve the mystery, Tempe travels to North Carolina and the body previously believed to be Lowery's is exhumed. Tempe then accompanies the remains to Hawaii and the headquarters of JPAC, the U.S. military's Joint POW/ MIA Accounting Command, the organisation that strives to recover and identify Americans who have died in past conflicts. The case gets even more complicated when a set of unidentified remains at JPAC are found to have Lowery's dog tags in their coffin. Three bodies - one identity. Which one is the real John Lowery and why the confusion?

While in Hawaii Tempe is asked by the local medical examiner to consult on another case when the very minimal remains of an adolescent boy are recovered off the coast. Tempe quite naturally hears the opening bars of Jaws in her head as she examines the remains. Added to the cases are a few issues with both her on-again off-again lover and her daughter, who is dealing with a personal loss.

Kathy Reichs is passionate about forensic anthropology and it shows throughout all her books. She also includes here a lot of information about the Vietnam conflict and its legacy as well as the work of JPAC. I did find that towards the end the story did get fairly convoluted as to who was who but overall it was a cracking good thriller.

Also, quite amusingly she gives a nod in the direction of the TV show for which she serves as a producer when a detective interviews a suspect: "You claim to be smart. Know all about DNA. I'm sure you watch 'CSI' and 'Law and Order'. Maybe 'Bones', but that might be over your head..." Cute. I enjoy Kathy Reichs' writings as well as the TV show even though they are very different and hope that both incarnations of Tempe Brennan continue for some time to come.
Tags: mystery, thriller, war
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