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 Santería 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.