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Review: Thriller: Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs, whose cliff-hanging thrillers featuring forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan have topped the New York Times bestsellers list an astonishing 13 times to date, is not just a publishing sensation.

The spin-off American television series Bones, featuring Emily Deschanel as Dr Tempe Brennan, which Reichs produces herself for Fox Television, is a huge hit around the world. In the US more than 10 million people watch each episode.

The darkly comic series, which Reichs describes as a prequel to the books, has just been given the nod for an eighth 22-episode season, which begins shooting in November.

Reichs also has a rare distinction as an author -- she has never suffered the indignity of a publisher's rejection slip.

Her first novel, Deja Dead, was snapped up by the first publishing house she sent it to and catapulted directly to the top of the bestsellers list. She's been there with each new book ever since.

Authenticity is the secret of her success. She is a highly qualified and experienced forensic scientist, whose CV includes teaching FBI agents about human remains, analysing body parts in her Montreal lab and working with the police on baffling cases.

Dr Reichs also testified in Rwanda at the United Nations Tribunal on Genocide, helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala and assisted with identifying remains at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.

All of which lends authority to her novels.

Bones are Forever is Tempe Brennan's 14th case. As forensic examiner to the Canadian province of Quebec, she is called to a seedy apartment in a run-down section of Montreal.

There is evidence that a birth may have taken place there very recently, and to her horror she discovers the corpse of a newborn baby stuffed into a vanity cabinet in the bathroom.

A more extensive search reveals two further hidden tiny corpses, now in a mummified state. All three infants have died of unnatural causes.

The police immediately start to hunt their mother, a young woman with an unsavoury past and, as Tempe soon discovers, at least three aliases.

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Her trail leads to Yellowknife, a cold and desolate mining town on the edge of the Arctic Circle in Canada's remote Northwestern Territories.

Accompanied by her sometime boyfriend, Detective Sergeant Andrew Ryan, and Sergeant Ollie Hasty, with whom Tempe had an ill-advised and short-lived relationship some years before, Brennan attempts to trace the suspect's family, but the outsiders are met with suspicion and often outright hostility from the insular community.

Diamonds were discovered just over 300 miles north of Yellowstone in the early 1990s, and as more bodies begin to appear the three investigators realise that greed is at work and some people are determined to go to any lengths to eliminate them all.

Once again Reichs spins a genuinely gripping tale in an interesting and different environment that's peppered with authentic forensic science and peopled with well drawn, rounded characters.

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