Bones Are Forever (Tempe Brennan #15) by Kathy Reichs
Kind thanks to Scribner for providing a review copy
A woman calling herself Amy Roberts checks into a Montreal hospital complaining of uncontrolled bleeding. Doctors see evidence of a recent birth, but before they can act, Roberts disappears. Dispatched to the address she gave at the hospital, police discover bloody towels outside in a Dumpster. Fearing the worst, they call Temperance Brennan to investigate.
In a run-down apartment Tempe makes a ghastly discovery: the decomposing bodies of three infants. According to the landlord, a woman named Alma Rogers lives there. Then a man shows up looking for Alva Rodriguez. Are Amy Roberts, Alma Rogers, and Alva Rodriguez the same person? Did she kill her own babies? And where is she now?
Heading up the investigation is Tempe’s old flame, homicide detective Andrew Ryan. His counterpart from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is sergeant Ollie Hasty, who happens to have a little history with Tempe himself, which she regrets. This unlikely trio follows the woman’s trail, first to Edmonton and then to Yellowknife, a remote diamond-mining city deep in the Northwest Territories. What they find in Yellowknife is more sinister than they ever could have imagined.
Tempe Brennan is back in Quebec and three babies are dead. Such is the beginning of Bones Are Forever, Kathy Reich’s last Tempe Brennan mystery. The identity of the infants’ mother soon becomes evident, but tracking her down will be no easy task. Ryan and Tempe set out to find her, but it won’t be just the two of them. Enter one Sergeant Oliver Isaac Hasty. Turns out Hasty and Tempe have a scorching past (way before Ryan), and Hasty is more than willing to pick up right where they left off, but Tempe is not so receptive. This causes some serious tension between the trio but Hasty has a stake in this case that can’t be ignored. He’s part of Project KARE, an RCMP task force created to investigate the deaths of women in and around Edmonton, concentrating on at risk women and girls. The infants’ mother, Annaliese Ruben, certainly falls into this category, since she’s a known prostitute. What first begins as a search for a woman that most would think is a ruthless killer, turns out to be very different, and devastating. Tempe, Ryan, and Ollie journey to the outer reaches of the Northwest Territories and find themselves in the sights of a killer, and a conspiracy that has them baffled.
Coming off of the relative lightness of Flash and Bones, Kathy Reichs take us back into the dark in Bones Are Forever. The first few pages describing the discovery of the dead infants are very hard to read, and set an undeniably serious tone. You’ll begin the book wanting to see the mother arrested and given the harshest punishment, but as the story unfolds, your perception of this mother will change drastically. Not only does the book shine a spotlight on the sad stories of the many women and girls that run away from home, only to find themselves being used and exploited, but also provides quite a bit of insight into the Canadian diamond industry. I had no idea Canada was such a big player, but they are, and this directly ties into the murder investigations. The Northwest Territories is a desolate place, but there’s also a sense of community and kinship that seems so rare these days. Amidst the investigation, Tempe also had to deal with Ryan’s inexplicable cold shoulder, and Ollie’s flirtation. In the scenes with all three, you can cut the tension with a knife, and Ryan makes no, er, bones about what he thinks of Sergeant Hasty. By the way, Project KARE is a very real, and sadly, much needed task force. It was originally formed to examine the deaths of several “High Risk Missing Persons” who were found in rural areas around Edmonton. It has since expanded to include all of Alberta. These law enforcement agents fight for justice for the most vulnerable victims, and you can learn more about the task force, and how you can help here (http://www.kare.ca/) Also, if you’re interested in the booming Canadian diamond industry, Diavik’s website is a great source of info. Bones are Forever is another fascinating installment to one of my favorite series, and I can’t wait to find out what Tempe’s up to next!