Kathy Reichs serves as forensic anthropologist for the Offices of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratorie de Sciences Judiciaires et de Medecine Legale for the province of Quebec. A professor of anthropology at the University of North Caroline at Charlotte, she divides her time between Charlotte and Montreal.
Forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan volunteers to help exhume and identify bodies from 20-year-old mass graves in Guatemala. Police investigator Galliano requests her assistance in a current case because of her experience with human remains found in septic tanks. Hard-boiled and formidable on the surface, Tempe underneath is a muddle of conflict and insecurity. Luckily, her colleagues don't have to listen to her querulous inner conversations concerning her loathing of death, her pride in her professional accomplishments, and her sexual attraction to two policemen who (she thinks) are comparing notes on her when she isn't around. Katherine Borowitz is an accomplished reader. She brings the listener through the stinky muck of sewers into the equally polluted world of Guatemalan politics. In her interpretation of Tempe, she portrays the heroine's uncompromising toughness through swift pacing and forceful consonants, her sympathy for the victims through a slower pace and rising inflections, and her inner battles with plaintive emphasis on key words. The setting is interesting, the plot suitably convoluted, and the reader true to the material. However, Tempe's inner wimp will exasperate hard-boiled mystery aficionados. Recommended for large mystery collections.-Juleigh Muirhead Clark, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Lib., Colonial Williamsburg Fdn., VA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Fans of the Temperance Brennan series will be pleased by forensic anthropologist Reichs's latest installment (after Fatal Voyage; Deadly Decisions; etc.). Grave Secrets finds Tempe plying her pathology trade in Guatemala, investigating a massacre site as a favor to a Guatemalan anthropology association. However, when her team is ambushed by gunmen, Tempe finds herself ensnared in a mesh of corruption and murder stretching from Guatemala City to Montreal, involving DAs, military thugs and kinky diplomats. Tempe finds herself drawn and trapped between the two cops investigating: her longtime Canadian suitor, Lt. Andrew Ryan, and her would-be Latin lover, agente Bartolom Galiano. That the two men know each other and are friends doesn't help the situation. When a nosy reporter looking into the massacre is gunned down before Tempe's eyes, she realizes she herself is the next likely target. As has been said before, Reichs has much in common with Patricia Cornwell, though her language is more stripped down and there is less melodrama between autopsies. Devotees of medical procedurals will appreciate the detailed descriptions of bone formation and the mechanics of bodily decomposition within a septic tank; others may not. But the author keeps the twists coming, and by the novel's climax, she has skillfully interwoven her many subplots and red herrings into a satisfying puddle of sex, sleaze, greed and gore. (July) Forecast: Reichs traveled to Guatemala herself in 2000 as part of a special forensic team. Her firsthand knowledge of the terrain shines through and should win her a few more devoted readers. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.