Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kathy Reichs: Cross Bones

I am a huge fan of Ms Reichs' novels. I just love her heroine Temperance Brennan, I love the snappy dialogue between her and Andrew Ryan, I love the sciency bits, I love that I now know what a forensic anthropologist is... I love them so much that I overlook the sometimes annoying habit of pointing out that people speak French in Montréal, the occasional deus ex machina plotlines... They are well-crafted, enjoyable crime novels. Muchly recommended. And the spin-off telly series is starting here in April, I'll have to check it out.

This one takes our heroine Temperance Brennan abroad, to Israel, which is a new move. She and Andrew Ryan are investigating a murder, in which the motive may or not be an ancient skeleton which may or may not have been found at Masada. Once in Israel they get caught up in what appears to be a massive conspiracy to cover up historical facts; but as usual in a Reichs' novel simpler explanations prevail in the end.

Having been to Israel and Palestine I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions of the country. I too was overwhelmed at the beauty and historical presence of the place. I can see why we fight over it. Ms Reichs does not fall for the temptation to write her books as travel guides. She mentions what is necessary, a refreshing attitude. I like to see that other people have noticed what I noticed there; how strange it is that every person in authority you meet appears to be barely twenty, how humourless the Israelis seem (so odd to us who grew up with Mel Brooks, Seinfeld, Woody Allen etc. - one is far less surprised if an Arab is humourless, considering), how normal it quickly becomes that there are road blocks everywhere and people with machine guns. I was thrilled when my mind's eye can picture the places she mentions: The American Hostel, hey, I've been there! Not inside, but my airport taxi stopped there to pick up some passengers. Hey, Tempe's friend Jake lives in Beit Hanina, I've totally been there! Wow. I get the food, I get the descriptions of buildings.

A good book, on the whole, even though I'm never a fan of the "Jesus never rose" speculative novels - it's been done, is my general feeling. But it was done rather nicely here.

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