KATHY REICHS, whom Ann Rule calls "in a class by herself," burst onto the publishing scene with Déjà Dead, the international bestseller of which P. D. James wrote: "The strength of her novel is in the insight it gives into the scientific procedures of a murder investigation." Now, with her dazzling new forensic thriller Fatal Voyage, Reichs applies her cutting-edge scientific know-how to the probe of a heartbreaking commercial airliner crash.
Temperance Brennan hears the news on her car radio. An Air TransSouth flight has gone down in the mountains of western North Carolina, taking with it eighty-eight passengers and crew. As a forensic anthropologist and a member of the regional DMORT team, Tempe rushes to the scene to assist in body recovery and identification.
Tempe has seen death many times, working with the medical examiners in North Carolina and Montreal, but never has tragedy struck with such devastation. She finds a field of carnage: torsos in trees, limbs strewn among bursting suitcases and smoldering debris. Many of the dead are members of a university soccer team. Is Tempe's daughter, Katy, among them?
Frantic with worry, Tempe joins colleagues from the FBI, the NTSB, and other agencies to search for explanations. Was the plane brought down by a bomb, an insurance plot, a political assassination, or simple mechanical failure? And what about the prisoner on the plane who was being extradited to Canada? Did someone want him silenced forever?
Even more puzzling for Tempe is a disembodied foot found near the debris field. Tempe's microscopic analysis suggests it could not have belonged to any passenger. Whose foot is it, and where is the rest of the body? And what about the disturbing evidence Tempe discovers in the soil outside a remote mountain enclave? What secrets lie hidden there, and why are certain people eager to stop Tempe's investigation? Is she learning too much? Coming too close?
With help from Montreal detective Andrew Ryan, who has his own sad reason for being at the crash, and from a very special dog named Boyd, Tempe calls upon deep reserves of courage and upon her forensic skill to uncover a shocking, multilayered tale of deceit and depravity.
Written with the riveting authenticity that only world-class forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs can provide, Fatal Voyage pairs witty, elegant prose with pulse-pounding storytelling in a tour de force worthy of crime writing's new superstar.
Called in to investigate a horrific North Carolina airplane crash, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (Tempe to her friends) finds that the bodies of the 88 young people on board have become inexplicably mixed up with evidence of an older crime and gets fired. It turns out a local politician has a vested interest to protect. Although Tempe deals with the details of death every working day, neither she nor her creator, real-life forensic scientist and university professor Kathy Reichs (Deadly Decisions, etc.) ever exploit those details for morbidity or melodrama. That restraint, rendered superbly by understated reader Borowitz and combined with a riveting plot, makes for a terrific audio package exciting and intelligent entertainment. Borowitz is perfectly cast as the 50-ish Brennan: wise, self-deprecating and funny. Simultaneous release with Scribner hardcover (Forecasts, May 21). (July) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 28, 2002
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Excerpt from Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs
I stared at the woman flying through the trees. Her head was forward, chin raised, arms flung backward like the tiny chrome goddess on the hood of a Rolls Royce. But the tree lady was naked, and her body ended at the waist. Blood-coated leaves and branches imprisoned her lifeless torso.
Lowering my eyes, I looked around. Except for the narrow gravel road on which I was parked, there was nothing but dense forest. The trees were mostly pine, the few hardwoods like wreaths marking the death of summer, their foliage every shade of red, orange, and yellow.
Though it was hot in Charlotte, at this elevation the early October weather was pleasant. But it would soon grow cool. I took a windbreaker from the backseat, stood still, and listened.
Birdsong. Wind. The scurrying of a small animal. Then, in the distance, one man calling to another. A muffled response.
Tying the jacket around my waist, I locked the car and set off toward the voices, my feet swishing through dead leaves and pine needles.
Ten yards into the woods I passed a seated figure leaning against a mossy stone, knees flexed to his chest, laptop computer at his side. He was missing both arms, and a small china pitcher protruded from his left temple.
On the computer lay a face, teeth laced with orthodontic wiring, one brow pierced by a delicate gold ring. The eyes were open, the pupils dilated, giving the face an expression of alarm. I felt a tremor beneath my tongue, and quickly moved on.
Within yards I saw a leg, the foot still bound in its hiking boot. The limb had been torn off at the hip, and I wondered if it belonged to the Rolls-Royce torso.
Beyond the leg, two men rested side by side, seat belts fastened, necks mushrooming into red blossoms. One man sat with legs crossed, as if reading a magazine.
I picked my way deeper into the forest, now and then hearing disconnected shouts, carried to me at the wind's whim. Brushing back branches and climbing over rocks and fallen logs, I continued on.
Luggage and pieces of metal lay among the trees. Most suitcases had burst, spewing their contents in random patterns. Clothing, curling irons, and electric shavers were jumbled with containers of hand lotion, shampoo, aftershave, and perfume. One small carry-on had disgorged hundreds of pilfered hotel toiletries. The smell of drugstore products and airplane fuel mingled with the scent of pine and mountain air. And from far off, a hint of smoke.