Looking back , I think of it as Race Week in the Rain. Thunderboomers almost every day. Sure, it was spring. But these storms were over the top. In the end, Summer saved my life. I know. Sounds bizarre. This is what happened.
Bloated, dark clouds hung low to the ground, but so far no rain.
Lucky break. I’d spent the morning digging up a corpse.
Sound macabre? Just part of the job. I’m a forensic anthropologist. I recover and analyze the dead that present in less than pristine condition—the burned, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, decomposed, and skeletal.
OK. Today’s target wasn’t actually a corpse. I’d been searching for overlooked body parts.
Short version. Last fall a housewife vanished from her Cabarrus County home in rural North Carolina. A week ago, while I was away on a working vacation in Hawaii, a trucker admitted to strangling the woman and burying her body in a sandpit. Impatient, the local cops had sallied forth with shovels and buckets. They delivered the bones in a Mott’s applesauce carton to my employer, the Medical Examiner’s Office, in neighboring Mecklenburg County.
Yesterday, my aloha tan still glowing, I’d begun my analysis. A skeletal inventory revealed that the hyoid, the mandible, and all of the upper incisors and canines were missing.
No teeth, no dental ID. No hyoid, no evidence of strangulation. Dr. Tim Larabee, the Mecklenburg County medical examiner, asked me to have a second go at the sandpit.
Correcting screwups usually makes me cranky. Today I was feeling upbeat.
I’d quickly found the missing bits and dispatched them to the MCME facility in Charlotte. I was en route to a shower, a late lunch, and time with my cat.
It was 1:50 p.m. My sweat-soaked tee was pasted to my back. My hair was yanked into a ratty knot. Sand lined my scalp and undies. Nevertheless, I was humming. Al Yankovic, “White & Nerdy.” What can I say? I’d watched a YouTube video and the tune lodged in my head.
Wind buffeted my Mazda as I merged onto southbound I-85. Slightly uneasy, I glanced at the sky, then thumbed on NPR. Terry Gross was finishing an interview with W. S. Merwin, the U.S. poet laureate. Both were indifferent to the conditions outside my car.
Fair enough. The show was produced in Philadelphia, five hundred miles north of Dixie.
Terry launched into a teaser about an upcoming guest. I never caught the name.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The National Weather Service has issued a severe-weather warning for parts of the North Carolina piedmont, including Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Anson, Stanly, and Union counties. Severe thunderstorms are expected to move through the area within the next hour. Rainfall of one to three inches is anticipated, creating the potential for flash flooding. Atmospheric conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes.
From FLASH AND BONES by Kathy Reichs. Copyright © 2011 by Temperance Brennan, L.P. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.
In Flash and Bones, Kathy Reichs’ 14th high-stakes crime-thriller, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is working a case for the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office in North Carolina. A body has been found in a barrel of asphalt in a landfill near Charlotte Motor Speedway. With 200,000 fans pouring into town for Race Week, murder at the Speedway is a winning formula for headlines. And the powers that be want damage control.
The day she begins her investigation, a NASCAR pit crewmember shows up to share a devastating story. Twelve years earlier, his sister, Cindi Gamble, then a high school senior who wanted to be a professional racecar driver, disappeared along with her boyfriend, Cale Lovette. Lovette kept company with a group of right-wing extremists whose possible ties to anti-government violence drew the FBI onto the case.
What strikes Tempe as odd is that the search was quickly terminated and the incident kept out of the news. Is the body Cindi’s, or Cale’s? Did the pair melt into the militant underground? Or was there an FBI cover-up? When a surprising substance is found with the body, Tempe’s determination to find the truth puts her on track for a deadly collision.
Hardcover Book : 288 pages
Publisher: Scribner/Simon & Schuster ( August 23, 2011 )
Item #: 13-410741
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.625inches
Product Weight: 11.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I read a lot and often cannot remember particular stories after two or three weeks. This book's plot, characters, and setting have stayed with me and I highly recommend it.
Reviewer: Linda G
I enjoy Kathy Reichs books because she is very careful in her research, making sure she dots her i's and crosses her t's. I was pleased to see she mentioned her female character from her new books for young people. I have read both of her books about the teenage "Virals" and enjoyed them immensely. Hope she continues to write in this vein.
Reviewer: Joan T
Enjoyed this book, took it on a trip with me and had it read cover to cover by the time I got home. Enjoyed the NASCAR storyline. One reviewer said it isn't like the characters on television, I don't think they are supposed to be. Although it is Temperance Brennan, no one calls her Bones, if you can separate the television show from the books, you won't be disappointed.
I am a fan of Ms. Reichs' books. In fact, I enjoy her books more than the TV show based on them. I found the NASCAR twist interesting and well written. I quickly finished this book and was kind of sad for it to end. I look forward to the next book!
Reviewer: Bonnie B
Was hoping to get more excited about this book. Although big fan of Nascar, found the story "boring".. Knew what was going to happen. Love Dr B on TV but the books are just not as exciting and fun! Guess it's the place and characters. Thought this one might be better.