cover image The Bone Code

The Bone Code

Kathy Reichs. Scribner, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-1-9821-3996-4

The coroner of South Carolina’s Charleston County needs Temperance Brennan’s help in bestseller Reichs’s average 20th thriller featuring the forensic anthropologist (after 2020’s A Conspiracy of Bones). The coroner knows Brennan, who specializes in analyzing “remains unfit for a pathologist’s scalpel: the decomposed, dismembered, burned, mummified, mutilated, and skeletal,” happens to be headed from North Carolina to Charleston. A recent hurricane has tossed ashore a container with two decayed bodies inside wrapped in plastic secured by electrical wire, and at least one of the bodies shows evidence of a bullet to the head. These details rattle Brennan, as they match those of a 15-year-old unsolved case involving two victims that Brennan worked on with Andrew Ryan, a former Quebec homicide detective turned PI, who’s her current significant other. The new victims spur Brennan to labor to identify the killer or killers of all four people. Reichs’s tendency to end chapters with ominous foreshadowing (“Unaware that the storm damage would be nothing compared to that triggered by an upcoming call”) gets old quickly. Despite that, this is an accessible entry point for newcomers. (July)