I just finished Spider Bones--the latest release in Kathy Reichs' Dr. Temperance Brennan series. It was on my own personal list of (in some cases very highly) anticipated summer blockbuster book releases. I look forward to some book releases with a higher degree of trepidation, anticipation and excitement than I do most movie releases. In some cases (this means you Karin Slaughter, S.J. Bolton, John Connolly and this summer, Tess Gerritsen), I'm nearly beside myself with obsessing over what the next book will be about and what will happen to the characters (this is especially true for the series I read).
This summer was an especially busy summer of book releases. It began in May with Brunonia Barry's The Map of True Places, her follow up to The Lace Reader (which in the end didn't live up to her debut but was still good nonetheless). Then came Broken by Karin Slaughter--it did not disappoint. Karin Slaughter never disappoints. John Connolly's The Whisperers and Tana French's Faithful Place both dropped the same July day. I've read The Whisperers and just received Faithful Place this week (it's on the pile at home to read).
Joshilyn Jackson's Backseat Saints was released in early June. I haven't read it. I had it for several weeks and when I finally bit the bullet and started it, I couldn't finish it. A review I'd read earlier turned me off of that one, and I couldn't abide the narrator so I ditched it after a couple chapters. I may come back to it later or I may not. Spider Bones finally came in. I'm now only waiting for Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen. I'm number one on the reserve list so someone better hurry up and return their copy so I can get it already. Ice Cold is the title that I've been beside myself about ever since I read Amazon's synopsis a few months before its release. I hope that what it says is going to happen in that book is a big fake out or that review will be one long freak out and sob fest the likes of which haven't been seen since I read Slaughter's Beyond Reach. No one saw that twist coming and its reverberations are still being felt two books later (and I still can't believe Slaughter did what she did! Karin Slaughter, you know what I'm talking about!).
On to Spider Bones. Much as I love the series--book and TV--I'm beginning to think that Kathy Reichs isn't half the writer that Karin Slaughter or John Connolly are. This suspicion has been sneaking its way through my brain for the past few installations of the Brennan series. I can't help but wonder if the early books are the same as the later ones or if its just that my tastes and critiques have become more discerning. One thing I must say for the series: the books are quick reads. I read Spider Bones in two days. It is a fast developing, page turning read. I've decided that Brennan is neurotic at times and when this quality comes through it grates a little on my nerves. She's at her best when she's not quite so chipper and neurotic.
The body of John Lowery, a Vietnam veteran, is pulled from a lake in Quebec, Canada. He's the victim of a bizarre autoerotic asphyxiation stunt gone horribly awry except Lowery returned from Vietnam in a flag draped casket and is currently planted in the cemetery in his hometown in North Carolina. Thus begins the mother of all complicated story lines.
Brennan is called in to identify the remains in Quebec and then to exhume the remains in NC and then to accompany them to the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii. Their mission is to identify remains of unidentified soldiers and locate the remains of unaccounted for soldiers from past military conflicts in which the US has been involved and then return them home. Upon arrival at JPAC Brennan is tasked with assisting in the re-identification of the remains exhumed in NC. Before long more digging and research yield another set of unidentified remains left in storage at the facility since the '70's that are also linked to Lowery, whose dog tags are found with remains.
So. Who does this third set of remains belong to? How much more complicated can this plot get? It turns out--a lot. I'm still not sure I have it all straight. And to top it off there are two other subplots vying for attention in this novel--three if you count the off-again, possibly heading toward on-again, romance between Brennan and her boy wonder detective Ryan. It all adds up to one jam packed, over stuffed story that careens toward a rather quick and tidy resolution that comes off as implausible and a little rushed.
This will not disappoint long time Brennan/Reichs fans.