From number one internationally bestselling author Kathy Reichs comes a masterful new novel of cutting-edge forensics and gripping suspense.
It's a summer of sizzling heat in Charlotte where Dr. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist for the North Carolina medical examiner, looks forward to her first vacation in years. A romantic vacation. She's almost out the door when the bones start appearing.
A newborn's charred remains turn up in a woodstove. The mother, Tamela Banks, hardly more than a child herself, has disappeared. Did she kill her infant, or is an innocent teenager also about to become a victim?
A small plane crashes in a North Carolina cornfield on a sunny afternoon. Both pilot and passenger are burned beyond recognition. Was it pilot error? Something more sinister? And what is the mysterious black substance covering the bodies?
Most puzzling of all are the bones discovered at a remote farm outside Charlotte. What has Tempe's dog, Boyd, unearthed? The remains seem to be of animal origin, but Tempe is shocked when she gets them to her lab.
With help from a special detective friend, Tempe must investigate a poignant and terrifying case that comes at the worst possible moment. Daughter Katy has a new boyfriend who Tempe fears may have something to hide. And important personal decisions face Tempe. Is it time for emotional commitment? Will she have the chance to find out?
Everything must wait on the bones. What story do they tell? Why are the X rays and DNA so perplexing? Who is trying to keep Tempe from the answers? Someone is following her. Someone is following Katy. That someone must be stopped before it's too late.
With the riveting authenticity that only world-class forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs can bring to her fiction, Bare Bones asks important questions and thrills us to its pulsating end. Fresh from the success of Grave Secrets, Reichs proves once again that she is the consummate crime-writing star.
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June 30, 2003
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Excerpt from Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs
As I was packaging what remained of the dead baby, the man I would kill was burning pavement north toward Charlotte.
I didn't know that at the time. I'd never heard the man's name, knew nothing of the grisly game in which he was a player.
At that moment I was focused on what I would say to Gideon Banks. How would I break the news that his grandchild was dead, his youngest daughter on the run?
My brain cells had been bickering all morning. You're a forensic anthropologist, the logic guys would say. Visiting the family is not your responsibility. The medical examiner will report your findings. The homicide detective will deliver the news. A phone call.
All valid points, the conscience guys would counter. But this case is different. You know Gideon Banks.
I felt a deep sadness as I tucked the tiny bundle of bones into its container, fastened the lid, and wrote a file number across the plastic. So little to examine. Such a short life.
As I secured the tub in an evidence locker, the memory cells floated an image of Gideon Banks. Wrinkled brown face, fuzzy gray hair, voice like ripping duct tape.
Expand the image.
A small man in a plaid flannel shirt arcing a string mop across a tile floor.
The memory cells had been offering the same image all morning. Though I'd tried to conjure up others, this one kept reappearing.
Gideon Banks and I had worked together at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for almost two decades until his retirement three years back. I'd periodically thanked him for keeping my office and lab clean, given him birthday cards and a small gift each Christmas. I knew he was conscientious, polite, deeply religious, and devoted to his kids.
And he kept the corridors spotless.
That was it. Beyond the workplace, our lives did not connect.
Until Tamela Banks placed her newborn in a woodstove and vanished.
Crossing to my office, I booted up my laptop and spread my notes across the desktop. I'd barely begun my report when a form filled the open doorway.
"A home visit really is above and beyond."
I hit "save" and looked up.
The Mecklenburg County medical examiner was wearing green surgical scrubs. A stain on his right shoulder mimicked the shape of Massachusetts in dull red.
"I don't mind." Like I didn't mind suppurating boils on my buttocks.
"I'll be glad to speak to him."
Tim Larabee might have been handsome were it not for his addiction to running. The daily marathon training had wizened his body, thinned his hair, and leatherized his face. The perpetual tan seemed to gather in the hollows of his cheeks, and to pool around eyes set way too deep. Eyes that were now crimped with concern