THE AIR SMELLED OF SUN-WARMED BARK AND apple buds raring to blossom and get on with life. Overhead, a million baby leaves danced in the breeze.
Fields spread outward from the orchard in which I stood, their newly turned soil rich and black. The Adirondacks crawled the horizon, gaudy bronze and green in the glorious sunlight.
A day made of diamonds.
The words winged at me from a war drama I’d watched on the classic-film channel. Van Johnson? No matter. The phrase was perfect for the early May afternoon.
I’m a Carolina girl, no fan of polar climes. Jonquils in February. Azaleas, dogwoods, Easter at the beach. Though I’ve worked years in the North, after each long, dark, tedious winter the beauty of Quebec spring still takes me by surprise.
The world was sparkling like a nine-carat rock.
A relentless buzzing dragged my gaze back to the corpse at my feet. According to SQ Agent André Bandau, now maintaining as much distance as possible, the body came ashore around noon.
News telegraphs quickly. Though it was now barely three, flies crawled and swarmed in a frenzy of feeding. Or breeding. I was never sure which.
To my right, a tech was taking pictures. To my left, another was running yellow crime-scene tape around the stretch of shoreline on which the body lay. The jackets of both said Service de l’identité judiciaire, Division des scènes de crime. Quebec’s version of CSI.
Ryan sat in a squad car behind me, talking to a man in a trucker cap. Lieutenant-détective Andrew Ryan, Section des crimes contre la personne, Sûreté du Québec. Sounds fancy. It’s not.
In la Belle Province, crime is handled by local forces in major cities, by the provincial police out in the boonies. Ryan is a homicide detective with the latter, the SQ.
The body was spotted in a pond near the town of Hemmingford, forty-five miles south of Montreal. Hemmingford. Boonies. SQ. You get it.
But why Ryan, a homicide dick working out of the SQ’s Montreal unit?
Since the deceased was plastic-wrapped and wearing a rock for a flipper, the local SQ post suspected foul play. Thus the bounce to Ryan.
And to me. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist.
Working out of the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale in Montreal, I do the decomposed, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, and skeletal for the province, helping the coroner with identification, cause of death, and postmortem interval.
Immersion leaves a corpse in less than pristine condition, so when Ryan caught the call about a floater, he enlisted me.
Through the windshield I saw Ryan’s passenger gesture with agitated hands. The man was probably fifty, with gray stubble and features that suggested a fondness for drink. Black and red letters on his cap declared I Love Canada. A maple leaf replaced the traditional heart icon.
Ryan nodded. Wrote something in what I knew was a small notebook.
Refocusing on the corpse, I continued jotting in my own spiral pad.
The body lay supine, encased in clear plastic, with only the left lower leg outside and exposed. Duct tape sealed the plastic under the chin and around the left calf.
The exposed left foot wore a heavy biker boot. Above its rim, a two-inch strip of flesh was the color of oatmeal.
A length of yellow polypropylene rope looped the boot roughly halfway up its laces. The rope’s other end was attached to a rock via an elaborate network of knots.
The victim’s head was wrapped separately, in what looked like a plastic grocery bag. A black tube protruded from one side of the bag, held in place with more duct tape. The whole arrangement was secured by tape circling the neck and the tube’s point of exit.
What the flip?
When I dropped to a squat, the whining went mongo. Shiny green missiles bounced off my face and hair.
Up close, the smell of putrefaction was unmistakable. That was wrong, given the vic’s packaging.
Waving off Diptera, I repositioned for a better view of the body’s far side.
A dark mass pulsated in what I calculated was the right-thigh region. I shooed the swarm with one gloved hand.
And felt a wave of irritation.
The right lower was visible through a fresh cut in the plastic. Flies elbowed for position on the wrist and moved upward out of sight.
Suppressing my annoyance, I shifted to the head.
Algae spread among the folds and creases of the bag covering the top and back of the skull. More slimed one side of the odd little tube.
I could discern murky features beneath the translucent shroud. A chin. The rim of an orbit. A nose, bent to one side. Bloating and discoloration suggested that visual identification would not be an option.
Rising, I swept my gaze toward the pond.
Nosed to the shore was a tiny aluminum skiff with a three-horsepower outboard engine. On the floor in back were a beer cooler, a tackle box, and a fishing rod.
Beside the skiff was a red canoe, beached and lying on its starboard side. Navigator was lettered in white below the port gunwale.
Polypropylene rope ran from a knot on the canoe’s midship thwart to a rock on the ground. I noted that the knots on the rock resembled the one securing the victim’s ankle weight.
Inside the canoe, a paddle lay lengthwise against the starboard hull. A canvas duffel was wedged below the stern seat. A knife and a roll of duct tape were snugged beside the duffel.
An engine hum joined the buzz of flies and the bustle and click of techs moving around me. I ignored it.
Five yards up the shoreline, a rusted red moped sat beneath a precociously flowering tree. The license plate was unreadable from where I stood. At least with my eyes.
Dual rearview mirrors. Kickstand. Raised trunk behind the seat. The thing reminded me of my freshman undergrad wheels. I’d loved that scooter.
Walking the area between the skiff and the moped, I saw a set of tire treads consistent with the pickup parked by the road, and one tread line consistent with the moped itself. No foot or boot prints. No cigarette butts, aluminum cans, condoms, or candy wrappers. No litter of any kind.
Moving back along the water, I continued recording observations. The engine sounds grew louder.
Mud-rimmed pond, shallow, no tides or chop. Apple trees within five feet of the bank. Ten yards to a gravel road accessing Highway 219.
Tires crunched. The engine sounds cut out. Car doors opened, slammed. Male voices spoke French.
Satisfied I’d learn nothing further from the scene, and wanting a word with the industrious Agent Bandau, I turned and walked toward the vehicles lining the road.
A black van had joined Ryan’s Jeep, the blue crime-scene truck, the fisherman’s pickup, and Bandau’s SQ cruiser. Yellow letters on the van said Bureau du coroner.
I recognized the van’s driver, an autopsy tech named Gilles Pomerleau. Riding shotgun was my new assistant, Roch Lauzon.
Exchanging bonjours, I assured Pomerleau and Lauzon the wait wouldn’t be long. They crossed to view the corpse. Ryan remained in the cruiser with the unfortunate angler.
I approached Bandau, a gangly twentysomething with a wheat blond mustache and skin that looked like it really hated sun. Though it was hidden by his agent’s cap, I envisioned pale hair going south at a rate that alarmed its young owner.
“What’s with the plastic wrap?” Bandau asked in French, looking past me toward the corpse.
“Good question.” I had no explanation.
“Male or female?”
“Yes,” I said.
Bandau’s face came around, winking my reflection off his aviator shades. My expression was not a happy one.
“I understand you were the first responder.”
Bandau nodded, eyes unreadable behind the dark lenses.
“How’d that go?”
Bandau cocked his chin toward his cruiser. “Local named Gripper found the vic. Claims he was fishing when he saw the canoe. He motored over to investigate, something snagged his propeller. Says he paddled in, saw his catch was a corpse, dialed nine-one-one on his cell. While waiting, he dragged the body ashore then retrieved the canoe.”
“Guess you could say that.”
“Is he believable?” I asked.
Bandau shrugged. Who knows?
“What are his creds?”
“Lives on avenue Margaret with his wife. Works maintenance at the wildlife park.”
Hemmingford is located in the Montérégie region, a hair from the Canada-U.S. border. The Montérégie is noted for apples, maple syrup, and Parc Safari, a combination drive-through nature preserve and amusement park.
When I first started commuting to Quebec, the media were following the story of a group of rhesus monkey escapees from the park. I had visions of the band belly-crawling south through the night to avoid border patrol, risking all for a green card and a better life. Twenty years later, the image still amuses me.
“Go on,” I said.
“I caught the call around noon, drove out, secured the area.”
“And printed the body.” Chilly.
Sensing my disapproval, Bandau spread his feet and thumb-hooked his belt. “I thought it might speed the ID.”
“You cut the plastic.”
“I wore gloves.” Defensive. “Look, I had the new camera, so I shot close-ups and transmitted the file electronically.”
“You compromised the scene.”
“What scene? The guy was bobbing in a pond.”
“The flies will chip in to buy you a beer. Especially the ladies. They’re ovipositing with glee as we speak.”
“I was trying to help.”
“You broke protocol.”
Bandau’s lips tightened.
“What happened with the prints?”
“I got ridge patterning on all five digits. Someone at the post sent the file to CPIC. From there it went into both NCIC and the New York State system.”
CPIC is the Canadian Police Information Centre, a computerized index of criminal justice information. NCIC is the U.S. equivalent, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
“Why send the prints south?”
“Being on the border, we get a lot of Americans coming through. And the scooter has a New York plate.”
Not bad, Bandau.
Hearing a car door slam, we both turned.
Ryan was walking toward us. Released for the moment, Gripper was leaning on his pickup, looking uneasy.
Ryan nodded to Bandau, spoke to me.
“What do you think?”
“Based solely on size.”
“Tough to say. Given this week’s warm temperatures, and the shrink-wrap, I’d guess a day or two. There’s some decomp, but not much.” I cast a meaningful glance at Bandau. “That’ll change now that the bugs have been issued a gate pass.”
I told Ryan what Bandau had done.
“What kind of rookie move was that?”
Bandau’s cheeks went raspberry.
“That’s no way to make it up the chain, son.”
Ryan turned back to me.
“Twenty-four to forty-eight hours tracks with the wit’s account. Gripper says he comes out here on his days off, usually Tuesdays and Thursdays. Swears day before yesterday the pond was canoe and corpse free.”
“Algae patterning suggests the body was floating with the head just at or below the waterline,” I said.
Ryan nodded. “According to Gripper, the body was hanging head up in the water, with the booted foot attached to a rock lying on the bottom. He guesses the pond’s about eight feet deep where he found the guy.”
“Where was the canoe?”
“Beside the vic. Gripper says that’s how the rope got tangled in his outboard.”
Ryan spoke to Bandau. “Check for feedback on those prints.”
Ryan and I watched Bandau lope toward his cruiser.
“Probably DVRs cop shows,” Ryan said.
“Not the right ones,” I said.
Ryan glanced toward the body, back to me.
“What do you think?”
“Weird one,” I said.
“Suicide? Accident? Murder?”
I spread my palms in a “who knows” gesture.
Ryan smiled. “That’s why I bring you along.”
“The vic probably kept the canoe at the pond and drove the moped back and forth.”
“Back and forth from where?”
“Yep. Can’t do without you.”
A wood thrush trilled overhead. Another answered. The cheerful exchange was in stark contrast to the grim conversation below.
As I glanced up, hurried footsteps startled the birds into flight.
“Got him.” Bandau’s aviators were now hanging by one bow from his pocket. “Cold hit in the States. Thirteen-point match.”
Ryan’s brows may have shot higher than mine.
“John Charles Lowery. Date of birth March twenty-first, nineteen fifty.”
“Not bad, Bandau.” This time I said it aloud.
“There’s one problem.”
Bandau’s already deep frown lines deepened.
“John Charles Lowery died in nineteen sixty-eight.”
--Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
Revue de presse
"You'll want to keep turning the pages long after lights out to find out what happens next . Reichs' real-life expertise gives her novels an authenticity that most other crime novelists would kill for " (Daily Express)
"Reichs' seamless blending of fascinating science and dead-on psychological portrayals, not to mention a whirlwind of a plot, make [her novels] a must read" (Jeffery Deaver)
"With Kathy Reichs the reader knows they're in the hands of an expert" (Sunday Express)
"Brennan is a winner, and so is Reichs" (Daily News)
"A truly impressive writer" (We Love This Book)
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition
Née à Chicago, Kathy Reichs est anthropologue judiciaire à Montréal et professeur d'anthropologie judiciaire à l'université de Charlotte, en Caroline du Nord. Elle travaille fréquemment de concert avec le FBI et le Pentagone. Les aventures de son héroïne, Temperance Brennan, sont adaptées à la télévision dans la série à succès de M6, Bones. Aux Éditions Robert Laffont, elle a publié, entre autres, Déjà Dead, Meurtres à la carte et, plus récemment, Autopsies.
Toujours agréable à lire, instructif, humoristique. Cependant, j'ai déjà été mieux "accroché " par les aventures de Tempe Brennan, l'histoire (ou plutôt les histoires) étant ici un peu trop mêlées et parfois trop artificielles.
l'un des meilleurs qu'elle ait jamais écrit (je les ai tous lus). remarque générale pour toutes les nouvelles publications: ne pourriez-vous pas donner un aperçu succint de l'intrigue (comme au revers du livre)?
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
80 internautes sur 86 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Compare apples to apples...31 août 2010
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I'm a firm believer, when reviewing a book, in comparing a book to its predecessors. In this case, it's possible, because Kathy Reichs has written 12 previous Tempe Brennan novels.
The story she writes here, which takes place in locations from Montreal to North Carolina to Hawaii, involves a whole lot of different issues. Auto-erotic deaths, MIA/KIA's from Vietnam, shark-bitten bodies, Samoan gangs, daughters-with-problems, and an inactive love life are only a few of the diverse things Reichs touches on in "Spider Bones". The thing is, that as disconcerting as all this in-coming might be to a casual Reichs' reader, her fans come to expect it from her novels. I can't exactly compare Reichs' work with, say, Leo Tolstoy's, because she doesn't write as well. No one expects her to produce "War and Peace". She writes with workman-like prose and very odd plot lines. And does so fairly well.
It would be difficult to easily describe the plot of "Spider Bones". As I wrote above, there's a whole lot of "in-coming" and the reader never knows what's coming next. Reichs has the interesting/irritating habit of ending her chapters in cliff-hanging language. It's Reichs trademark and is present in every one of her books I've read.
"Spider Bones" is a good read for the Kathy Reichs fan. It might not appeal to more casual readers, but it is a good addition to her book list.
83 internautes sur 92 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Confusing and muddled; no real story line driving it29 août 2010
- Publié sur Amazon.com
In the usual Tempe Brennan novel, we have a crime that Tempe is called in to help solve through her skills in forensic anthropology, either by clearing up an identification of an old corpse, helping determine a cause of death, or something similar.
This novel is very different. Here we have what seems to be a parade of misidentified bodies, and Brennan's trying to clear up that confusion as pretty much just a routine procedural matter. There's no "crime" involved - at least at first - and in all honesty I felt I needed a scorecard to try to keep things straight. In fact, I had to keep going back and re-reading portions of the book, because I'd lose track of who was who on the slabs. It was like a weird version of the Abbot and Costello "Who's on First" routine.
Further, I kept trying to figure out why I should really care. After all... nothing was really happening here!
This story is 302 pages long (hardback version), and it was page 191 before there was anything at all that could be called "action". Even after that, it promptly fizzled back away.
There's way too much information about the military's efforts to identify war dead; some background on the Vietnam War (more on that in a moment); a whole lot of touristy travelogue-type stuff about Hawaii - WAY too much! - and the usual "do I love him, or don't I?" stuff about her boyfriends (Make up her mind for her, Kathy. It's getting old).
As a Vietnam veteran, I can safely say that some of the passages dealing with the war lack accuracy. Kathy, there wasn't any such rank in the Army as Sp2. Specialist ratings started at Sp4, and went up from there. A "Sp2" would have been an E-2, and that rank was actually a "Private".
Well, I didn't hate it, and I do like the series, so two stars.
46 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
She does it again7 septembre 2010
- Publié sur Amazon.com
It has occured to me that Kathy Reich's books would have lots of potential to be 4 stars if only she would get off a few kicks - starting with describing, in minute and painful detail everything you can possibly want to know (and don't care about) very specific subject matters. IN this book, it is Vietnam and a huge, huge amount of geographical information about Hawaii - not to mention info on the army and their procedures. Frankly, the entire thing was one huge bore and I found myself skipping entire pages just to get to the "main storyline".
The other thing that was wrong with this book is that I got completely confused by all the dead people who may not be dead or then again may be. The amount of names being thrown around - was astounding, especially when you factor in that one person may have beem "posing" as the other one.
Finally, thanks to all of the above, the actual "thriller" and "suspense" part of the book was seriously toned down - leaving us with a huge number of pages of blah, blah - intermingled with one tiny little piece of the puzzle - it was extremely slow going.
Having said all that, Reichs has been known to write a fairly exciting whodunnit - and I could see some tiny bits of it in this book - but it is, for the most part, completely hidden in all the other stuff and frankly, I don' have the energy to dig through it all.
I also found myself wanting to pretty well smack both Tempe's and Ryan's children at some point in the storyline - both being completely annoying, not to mention ungrateful young adults who somehow ended up in beautiful Hawaii but choose to complain throughout the entire novel.
Really, the only thing I liked about this one was the humor surrounding Tempe's cat and bird - which, unfortunately, only occured at the beginning of this book.
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
I was rushing to finish it because it was so bad13 septembre 2010
Angela Risner The Sassy Orange
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I have been a fan of Kathy Reichs since before she was known to most people as the creative force behind the TV series, Bones. Way before, in fact.
I actually don't watch the show, because I experienced the books first and my idea of Temperance Brennan does not match what they have on the show. Yes, I know that they are using a "younger" version of Tempe on the show, but it's just not what I am looking for when I already know the character one way.
I always look forward to new offerings from Reichs. But this book is one huge disappointment.
1. I didn't care about the cases at all. Not one bit. There was no reason for us to care about the unidentified victims at all.
2. I was happy to have more Katy (Tempe's daughter) in the book, but again,we are thrown into trying to care about a character that only Katy knew and who doesn't seem to belong in the story at all.
3. I'm really tired of the dance with Andrew Ryan. Either commit or don't.
4. I think every chapter ended with about 20 questions written out. And the chapters were mostly short and meaningless.
5. Tempe solves the case - but that's not really what she does, is it? I mean she helps, but this time she was able to figure out something over 4 seasoned cops? Yes, she had medical knowledge that they didn't, but still.
I hope that Reichs can focus back on her books and realize that great storytelling was what drew her fans to her to begin with. And to keep it simple. This one involved so many different parties that it was hard to keep track of who was who.
Still better than Twilight.
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
"Could the situation possibly grow more confused?"30 août 2010
- Publié sur Amazon.com
In "Spider Bones," by Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan ("I do the decomposed, mummified, mutilated, dismembered and skeletal") is up to her ears in dead bodies. Unfortunately, there is some confusion as to the identity of the deceased men. The first corpse is found in a pond forty-five miles south of Montreal wrapped in plastic with a rock tied to his foot. After he is identified as John Charles Lowry, nicknamed Spider, the records show that he was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam in 1968. Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan, Tempe's former lover, is on the case. Other cadavers pop up, taking Tempe and Ryan to North Carolina and Hawaii in search of elusive answers.
Reichs never passes up an opportunity to show off her encyclopedic knowledge of everything from the fate of American soldiers missing in action during the Vietnam War to the minutiae of sequencing DNA. It is too bad that the author gets carried away with so many long-winded explanations. In addition, Reichs is fond of staccato sentences, cutesy dialogue, and heavy-handed similes ("the world was sparkling like a nine-carat rock.") The plot is so convoluted and confusing that some readers may end up zoning out well before the book's conclusion. None of the victims comes to life and too many peripheral characters flit in and out of the narrative, leaving us bewildered by the number of people we are expected to remember and the reams of information we are expected to absorb. There is a subplot involving Ryan's and Tempe's daughters, who are awkwardly shoehorned into the narrative. Meanwhile, although Tempe still has feelings for Ryan, she is reluctant to act on them because of the way he has treated her in the past. Instead of enjoying romantic bliss, the two engage in light-hearted banter and exchange silly quips.
"Spider Bones" touches on auto-eroticism, gangs, drug dealers, murder, attempted murder, parental angst, shark attacks, the horrors of war, and of course, old bones and putrefaction. Although one cannot help but respect Kathy Reichs for her expertise and her willingness to use her considerable skills to help the families of soldiers left behind, the one-dimensional characters and bewildering plot prevent this novel from catching fire.