An underground chamber is exposed in a seedy, dilapidated house with sagging trim and peeling paint...When a careless plumber accidentally knocks through a wall, he is horrified by what he uncovers. Called to the scene is forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan. Fighting her claustrophobia, and the unmistakable sweet, fetid odour of rotting flesh, Tempe descends the precariously steep, makeshift wooden steps.What awaits her below is a ritualistic display: slain chickens and a goat - and a skull, ghostly pale, rests on a pedestal, the lower jaw missing, the empty orbits staring back at her. The forehead is darkened by an irregular stain the exact red-brown of dried blood, and lined with remnants of desiccated tissue. Two cauldrons stand nearby, beads and antlers suspended overhead. Age, race and sex indicators confirm the skull as that of a young, black female - but how did she die, and when? Then, just as Tempe is working to determine the post-mortem interval, another body is uncovered. The corpse is headless, the torso is carved with Satanic symbols. Could there be a connection? Must Tempe face the sickening possibility that Devil-worshippers are sacrificing human victims?
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US Kirkus Review »
Several troubling cases await forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Bones to Ashes, 2007, etc.) back home in Charlotte, N.C.Tempe Brennan's personal life is in tatters. Her love, a Montreal cop called Ryan, has gone back to his lover in hopes of stabilizing their troubled daughter; Tempe's ex is about to marry a much younger woman; and her daughter Katy is utterly bored with her job. A call to examine a skull found in a hidden floor space plunges Tempe into a case that may involve ritual murder. The skull and some kettles containing bones and various fetishes suggesting Santer'a or some other alternative religion may tie in with two headless bodies, one found floating in a river and another marked with Satanic symbols. Furious when a local politician uses the cases as an excuse to whip up hostility against little-understood religions, Tempe is far from convinced that the Wiccan who is arrested is guilty. When Rinaldi, one of the detectives she's working with, is killed in a drive-by, Tempe falls off the wagon but soldiers on, mortified, until she finally makes the connections between the crimes that lead to a close call with death and a startling conclusion.Not Reichs's best, but a meticulously laid-out case that offers a deeper look into her heroine's personal life. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Kathy Reichs
Kathy Reichs is 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. She divides her time between Charlotte and Montreal and is a frequent expert witness in criminal trials.