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filleted Tempe Brennan
Flash and Bones is the 14th in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs. Just back from Hawaii, Tempe is called to a landfill site in Charlotte adjacent to the NASCAR circuit, where a body is encased in asphalt in a rusting metal drum. It’s almost race week, so the pressure is on to deal with the situation quickly. But after she manages only a perfunctory examination of the corpse, the FBI steps in to confiscate the body and all the files. As the story progresses, the list of possible identities for the John Doe lengthens, and Tempe comes up against the FBI, the local cops, the track security team and a right-wing extremist group, the Patriot Posse, as she tries to solve the riddle. Reichs sticks to her formula of letting Tempe get into danger while investigating something that’s probably none of her business. Usually, this works because she also gives the reader a good dose of forensic anthropology, and plenty of facts. This time the facts are about abrin, a systemic toxin (interesting) and NASCAR (maybe interesting for fans but left me cold). The forensic anthropology in this instalment is minimal: getting the body out of the asphalt ; putting together the skull of a known victim. There’s a plot with a few twists and some good dialogue in the form of dry quips between Tempe and Skinny Slidell, almost ex-hubby Pete, Kate and a possible new love-interest, Galimore. There may be bones in the title, but the story has been well filleted. Let’s hope the next Tempe Brennan novel is an improvement on this one.