by Kathy Reichs

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Review

As the eighth book in Kathy Reichs's Temperance Brennan series, Cross Bones follows a very familiar format.  My struggle in reviewing the book is how much to let that bother me...or how much does it distract from the writing and the story?

First things first, the Tempe Brennan of print is a different character than the Tempe Brennan of the television series Bones.  She is still a celebrated, logic-minded forensic anthropologist.  She's also a little older, has a grown daughter, and has decent social skills, if a little headstrong and abrupt.  She is clearly intelligent, which is why it is difficult for me to accept that she makes terrible, life-endangering decisions in every book.  Spoiler alert: if you read any of the books in the series (or any of titles 1-8), Brennan will inevitably get caught up in a dangerous situation, not call the police (her friends!), go somewhere without backup, and get brutally attacked - only to be saved by a stroke of luck and someone else's good detective work.  Also, she usually fails to report criminal activity early on, like being followed or getting burglarized.

If you can allow for these overused plot devices, the books are quite enjoyable.  The science is accurate and well-written, as Kathy Reichs is herself a celebrated forensic anthropologist.  She finds the right balance of being descriptive and graphic without over-explaining or making anything hard to understand.  Or making the reader lose one's appetite.

Cross Bones takes Brennan to Jerusalem, to work with her archeologist buddy on two mysterious sets of bones dating from the time of the Holy Family - one found in Montreal during a murder investigation and the other in a Jerusalem tomb while researching the first.  Reichs writes about the conflict in the area, as well as the conflict that may arise from such finds.

Although I know what to expect, I have fun reading the books and will continue reading my way through the series.  It's just about the right thing for your next quiet weekend, long flight, or waiting room visit, but don't expect to be surprised with a new plot.

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