With spoilers so tap out now if you intend to read this book and don’t want the plot ruined! Alright, I mentioned a few weeks back that I was in need of a new book series and I had compiled a list of popular television shows that were based on a book series. One of those being one of my all-time favourite shows, Bones. If you haven’t watched the show, it’s about a forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan who works with a varying group of scientists at the Smithsonian Institution and they collaborate with the FBI to solve a number of cases. It’s pretty straightforward, the bad guy is usually apprehended in like 40 minutes or so. The character of Bones in the show and books is based on the real-life forensic anthropologist, Kathy Reichs who obviously wrote the books but also produced the show. In the show, the main character in Bones’ mystery books is Kathy and Bones is also an author like the real life Kathy, obviously. So, knowing all of this one would assume that the books and shows are fairly similar but you’d be wrong, well, mostly.
Something notable, I listened to this book and the run time is 16 hours and 3 minutes! I was like, what the fuck? How long does it take to catch a serial killer?! Something I noticed about the subsequent books though is that the run time is 9-10 hours, I don’t know how I feel about that because book series tend to get longer as they progress. Anyway, let’s get two things out of the way 1) the books take place in Canada, I didn’t even know they had that much crime in Canada and 2) there is no Seely Booth. I repeat, there is no Seely Booth but I assume that his character was based off of Detective Andrew Ryan and you can picture David Boreanaz in the role 😛 Tempe and Ryan have a very similar, will they, won’t they relationship. Moving on, we meet Dr. Brennan (or Tempe, because she lets everyone call her that in the books. What is that about?!) as the Forensic Director of Quebec, separated with a college aged daughter and cat (who does not die). Right from the get, she is almost nothing like the borderline sociopath TV Bones. This was good and bad because I wasn’t constantly picturing Emily Deschanel the entire book but I also didn’t like that the character was lacking many of the characteristics that I felt were endearing traits in TV Bones. She doesn’t have that seemingly magic ability to her, she’s probably a more realistic take on the character albeit a little average. Rather than an entire cast of brilliant scientists (and friends) at her back, Tempe is on her own in the lab, is often running down leads alone and is only grudgingly accepted by the group of detectives that she works with. Her only other friend is the manic, unreliable basket case Gabby who went to school with Tempe and is studying local hookers as a cultural anthropology piece.
The plot kicks off with Tempe being dispatched to examine a badly decomposed body that has been meticulously dismembered. Almost immediately she feels that it’s definitely the result of a homicide and as she starts to recall similar cold cases, new bodies start to crop up in the same fashion. Unfortunately, the detective in charge of the investigation, Claudel does not share her concerns and the investigation into a possible serial killer doesn’t begin in earnest. Tempe has to work her Bones magic to draw a connection between the victims and place a call to Quantico before a taskforce is formed. Something that I did appreciate about the more human depiction of Bones was that there’s a ton more detail and deliberation behind her conclusions, I guess that this makes her genius more believable. The detectives catch a break when the suspected murderer is caught on an ATM camera using one of the recent victim’s card. A raid to a seedy tenant house leaves the detectives empty-handed and the killer in the wind. In the meantime, we have the side story of Tempe’s erratic relationship with her daughter who is living in the states and the disappearance of her best friend, Gabby. By seemingly dumb luck, Tempe takes to the streets in search of Gabby and gets a lead from one of the local ladies of the night. Unfortunately for herself, Gabby and the detectives on the case, her amateur detecting actually leads them to the wrong suspect. It gets personal when Gabby is murdered and the killer seems to be closing in on Tempe.
There’s a lot of plot twisting and you think you know who the psychopath is based on minute details but it turns out to be someone who has connections to a character who we meet in beginning of the book. At this point, we kinda’ know that the cops have the wrong dead animal collecting, impotent, anti-social oddball in custody (are there that many out there) and the real killer is coming for Tempe. Who of course comes down with strep throat or something, what a cliche like, do you need to add that in there? Isn’t it enough that a serial killer is after you? Why don’t you just trip on nothing while you’re at it? Honestly. Tempe (using Adobe Illustrator, apparently) determines that the wrong guy is in custody by comparing some tooth impressions while holed up at home with a fever. Little does she know, she’s also been holed up with the serial killer for literally hours. A really, really long encounter with the killer (like 25 minutes) and finally Claudel busts in saving the day.
I’ll tell you why it was 16 freaking hours, there’s the 45 minute Illustrator blow-by-blow with the teeth impressions (I mean, I don’t know what program it is but it’s a very 90’s narration of how to use a computer program), a weird part about a monkey, a 15 minute interview with a hooker during which like two questions are asked – there’s just a lot of detail but it wasn’t a bad thing. I imagine that it would be more difficult to read those bits and not lose interest but I really liked the narrator. For all of that detail though, there’s so little character development aside from the serial killer. It’s hard to feel empathy for Tempe when they find Gabby because we know nothing about her, she’s not even in the book very often. Another element that would make this a difficult read are the bits that are in French, I don’t speak it so I don’t know if the narrator did a good job but I appreciated it. For a book, it’s fairly graphic and the murder scenes are incredibly grisly and extremely well described which made me feel a little unsettled. I thought that the pacing was good and I couldn’t stop listening to it. I also kind of loved that the technology was all reflective of the early-90’s, cellphones suddenly seem a lot more important to me.
It was a romp, I will definitely listen to the next installment but I can’t imagine reading these. I hope Tempe’s character is more fleshed-out as the series progresses, I guess I went into it with a fully-developed character in mind so perhaps that is why she seemed so one-dimensional. If you check this one out, just know that it will be very different from the beloved show but still very enjoyable. I hope that every book doesn’t put Tempe is some sort of peril, that would get old real quick.
Have you encountered any books where the ‘movie’ was better? What are you currently reading?