A review of Cold Cold Bones by Kathy Reichs, coming in early July

A solid and enjoyable investigative procedural – except for the ever-present chapter cliff-hangers…

I am a late-comer to the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs, having read only this book, and the book preceding this one in the series.   (See my review of The Bone Code here.)  Like the previous book, Cold Cold Bones was enjoyable, offering a solid forensics background, a good dose of investigation, and well-developed characters – although without a long history in the series, I occasionally got a little bit mixed up as to who was who, and the relationships between the various players. 

Cold Cold Bones opens with a bang, when a package containing an eyeball is left on Temperance’s porch in Charlotte, NC.   After readers get a mini-lesson on eyeballs (who knew that a layer of stuff called the tapetum lucidum is what makes some animals’ eyes reflect in the dark – and improves their night vision), Temperance figures out that the eyeball is human, and well preserved.   But what is it doing on her doorstep, and more importantly, who did it belong to?   And is the person who lost the eye really dead, as it seems they must be?   As it turns out, this is the first in a series of somewhat odd-ball murders that start coming Temperance’s way, and eventually the nagging voice in her subconscious realizes that they all resemble old cases of hers.   Working with Skinny Slidell, who is semi-retired, but still consults with Charlotte’s Cold Case unit, and worried about her fresh-out-of-the-army and now missing daughter, Katy, Temperance eventually puts the pieces together. 

As with most procedurals, I really enjoyed the investigative and forensic elements of the story, and those kept me reading for most of a weekend.   But I also had the same issue with Cold Cold Bones that I had with The Bone Code – that is to say, with Reichs’ habit of ending chapters on abrupt mini-cliff-hangers.  (Examples:  “My breath caught in my throat.  My hand flew to my mouth.” Or, “Her next words launched my stomach into a Simone Biles double-double.”)    Doing this occasionally would be fine – that can add a bit of pace, making you want to read the next chapter even more.   But doing it on 28 out of 40 chapters (I counted) was really annoying for me, and even more annoying because Reichs writes more than well enough to not need to do this!  

Other than having to put in the actual mental effort to not be annoyed, though, Cold Cold Bones was a quick and enjoyable read.   I don’t know whether long-term readers would recognize some of the previous cases or not, but even without having read much of the series, I liked the premise and the story.    I did have a pretty strong inkling early on about who the culprit was, but sometimes I have that strong feeling and I’m wrong (!), so I still enjoyed reading the book.  I tend to try to not give out too many five-star ratings, so for me, a four-star rating is still a “read this book” recommendation, and that’s what Cold Cold Bones gets.   But, oh, I really really wish it didn’t have the chapter cliff-hangers…and those almost bumped it down to three stars…

And finally, my thanks to the publishers, Scribner, and to NetGalley for the advance review copy!

Buy: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Kobo US | Kobo UK | Kobo Canada

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