Plot or Premise
Twisting sub-plots make it hard to describe as one common theme, but in essence, Dr. Temperance Brennan is back with a problem — dead people, including babies, are popping up all over the place as a result of a religious cult. Even her sister gets involved, not to mention a young female relative (can we say Kay Scarpetta’s niece?). In fact, the majority of this book comes even closer to a rip-off of that other series, but closer to the lousy writing near the end of the Scarpetta series than the tight stories that launched the female coroner genre. The story starts in Montreal, and then moves to Carolina, and then eventually back again to the Montreal area. Unlike the first book, you never get the same sense of place.
What I Liked
A difficult question…the story is interesting, just with a lot of holes and loose threads. One really good thing that is missing from this story that was in the previous one is the removal of the francophone / anglophone dynamics, that is not only annoying, but also inaccurate for the timeframe.
What I Didn’t Like
The list is growing…First, and most important, I hate the way it mirrors the Kay Scarpetta stories, essentially ripping-off the work that has gone before. Second, Reichs has a really bad habit — trying to build suspense and mystery by an old trick of hiding certain things. At least two major “clues” in the sub-stories are not revealed, instead having Temperance kind of taunt the reader in a I-know-but-the-reader-won’t-until-I-feel-like-revealing-it-to-them. None of the “clues” are that big, nor are they worth waiting for, and the reader is just left feeling irritated and cheated by the story. Either the waiting has to be worth it, by making the news so unbelievable that you say “WOW!”, or you have to play fair with the reader and share the news as it comes along. Finally, I have to say that not only is this book not particularly great, it is a real let-down from the first one. It reads like Reichs threw it together from two separate stories, and with a lot of extra characters thrown in, none of which are any more than wooden extras.
The Bottom Line (★★☆☆☆)
A let-down from the first one.