Speaking in Bones (Temperence Brennan #18) by Kathy Reichs

Four stars

In her latest Temperance Brennan novel, Reichs pulls on new angles to keep the reader curious and involved. When Dr. Temperence (Tempe) Brennan received a visit from an amateur web-sleuth, she’s convinced that Hazel “Lucky” Strike is nothing more than a woman trying to busy herself playing internet crime fighter. However, Strike possesses an interesting recording, purported to be of Cora Teague, whose description matches some unidentified remains in the possession of the Medical Examiner. As Brennan becomes more interested, she opens her mind to the world of web-sleuthing and how there are many people who dedicate hours to searching for answers based on the ever-growing list of missing persons across America and around the world.Brennan returns to the scene of where the original remains were found, discovering more bones and learning of the significance of the area. A local religious cult professes belief in transformative happenings related to a flashing light phenomena. The case turns from a missing person to a cultish murder and Brennan in involved up to her neck. While working through the clues, she is plagued by her ailing mother who enjoys playing the role of amateur sleuth, as well as her on-again/off-again flame up in Montreal. Brennan’s investigation leads her down many a rabbit hole, which is derailed when Hazel Strike turns up dead as well. What happened to Cora Teague, Hazel Strike and the people tied to these other bones? And can Brennan work with the authorities before more bodies turn up? Reichs offers an excellent addition to the series that will keep the reader wondering until the very end.

Reichs is a master of her art, finding new and exciting ways to present what might seem like a repetitive genre. Reichs takes Tempe Brennan through cases that both push the limits and branch off into a variety of forensic and social issues, which keeps them fresh and exciting for all those involved. The reader is treated to a number of wonderful characters, many of whom have evolved over time, with new and interesting ones who make their single-novel presence known. With a decently paced narrative and enough backstory and personal character development, Reichs weaves a long-standing series that offers fresh approaches in the domain of forensic anthropology. Perhaps a focus back in in Montreal is in order, though, as the Carolinas have been receiving much attention in the latter part of the series.

Kudos, Dr. Reichs for this wonderfully crafted story and on-going development of the Tempe Brennan character.