Review: Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

Title: Devil Bones

Author: Kathy Reichs

Publisher:William Heinemann [2008]

ISBN: 978-0-4340-1466-8

No of Pages: 304

I normally start out my reviews with a brief synopsis of events that take place in the first 40-50 pages of a book but in all honesty I can’t think of more than a sentence to say about this one. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist, is called in when a skull is found under the flooring of an old house in North Carolina. Nothing else that develops the plot in any meaningful way happens before page 75. There’s a history lesson about the town of Charlotte, a swag of stultifying detail about Brennan’s work life and some snippets about what she has to eat in her fridge but I’m pretty sure none of that is going to make anyone rush out to get this book.

The only word that seems to fit this book is dull. If pressed to expand I would, in Douglas Adams fashion, qualify that description by saying mostly dull. The first third of the book could have been written by anyone with access to Google. It’s almost as if Brennan (or Reichs) is lecturing one of her undergraduate classes as she lists in minute detail the dimensions of the bones she has found, details the major deities of several religions and continues a frightfully uninteresting internal monologue about the object of 11 books worth of sexual tension. Yawn. The plot gets slightly better for the last two thirds but it’s not even close to being gripping. I found myself skim-reading long passages of technical stuff and groaning at the portentous statement at the end of each chapter. The resolution to the mystery element was predictable and the final lecture on America’s culture of fear was patronising.

In case you’re wondering I have read Reichs before. In fact I’ve read all the books in this series. I rated the last one, Bones to Ashes, a 4 but the two installments prior to that only rated a 2 on my personal scale. The thing is I can’t decide if Reichs’ writing has deteriorated over the years or my reading tastes have altered during that same period. Maybe it’s a little (or a lot) of both. In the past I’ve felt Reichs has had a genuine interest in exploring the topics she’s used as the basis for her plots, such as in Grave Secrets which dealt with human rights abuses and ‘the disappeared’ of 1980’s Guatemala. In Devil Bones it felt like she’d drawn voodoo out of a hat filled with random plot elements and threw in a few facts and figures alongside the dead bodies and danger. I’m firmly convinced the only person who had less interest in this book than I did is Reichs herself.

I’m done with this series.

My rating 1/5

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8 Responses to Review: Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

  1. Beth F says:

    I haven’t read any Reichs. I’ve always meant to but for some reason haven’t. Thanks for the review.

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  2. Dorte H says:

    I have read one Reichs, but don´t really remember it.

    I have given your blog an award. Could you please come by and pick it up.

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  3. Kerrie says:

    How depressing!
    I got browned off with Kathy Reichs too – all the books seemed to blur into one.

    BTW there is an award for you on my blog, but no real need for you to take any action 🙂

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  4. Cathy says:

    I gave up on Reichs somewhere around Bare Bones. I can’t remember the specific reasons why, just that I wasn’t interested in picking up another of her books. Fortunately the TV series based on her characters has kept my interest so far.

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  5. Maxine says:

    Snap! I read the first three or four, but it felt like swimming through treacle. Boring is right. Can’t work out why she is so popular.

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  6. bernadetteinoz says:

    All these crime fiction fans have given up on her yet I bet she can still command nice sums for her books. How depressing for that must be for new authors.

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  7. Stephen W says:

    I’ve just finished reading this book. It’s my first Reichs and it will be my last. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book so badly written for quite a long time. I didn’t care about the main character (Brennan is so self-absorbed) and the supporting cast are either very bland or fall into the TV cookie-cutter mold. Sildel for example is fat therefore he’s also rude and a slob. His partner has to be the complete opposite of course.

    Reichs seems to be one of those authors who has to put every bit of research she does into her books. Why else would we need the globs of information on alternative religions. And as for Brennan’s speech at the end about America needing to stop being afraid, well it may be true but it just reads like author intrusion.

    I won’t be reading another.

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  8. an0n says:

    it was my first time reading this book and i thought that it alright..

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