Kathy Reichs, . . Scribner, $25 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-3347-7
Forensic scientist Tempe Brennan isn't happy: it's freezing in Montreal, her detective boyfriend is giving her the cold shoulder and her macho colleagues won't take her seriously. When Reichs's heroine is called in to examine three skeletons discovered in the basement of a pizza parlor at the start of the seventh installment in this popular series, her instincts tell her a crime was recently committed. Chauvinistic homicide detective Luc Claudel doesn't agree, but Tempe forges ahead and soon discovers that the victims are young women, probably teenagers killed sometime in the 1980s. Already feeling vulnerable because she's left her beloved daughter, Katy, back home in North Carolina, Tempe is further troubled by the indifference of formerly avid lover Andrew Ryan (another Montreal detective). Meanwhile, new developments lead Tempe and her reluctant colleagues to suspect a creepy former pawn store owner of serial kidnappings, torture and grisly murder. What's best about Reichs, and often unappreciated in reviews, is not the informative detail that she brings to Tempe's forensic sleuthing, though that's certainly engrossing. It's the same well-observed detail and incisive analysis applied to other aspects of the story. Tempe deconstructs Ryan's every evasive gesture and casual comment and describes an ominously darkened room, the glow from a UV light and an armada of snow plows with vivid precision. Here, as previously, readers will be as invested in Tempe's life as in her case.
Reviewed on: 05/03/2004