Sunday, December 16, 2012
Reader's Diary #917- Kathy Reichs: Bones are Forever
There were more. She refers to a neighbouring town of Behchoko, saying how it used to be called Rae-Enzo. No, it was called Rae-Edzo. A local character refers to the Northwest Territories as a province— which we'd never do. This last character also blames farming and forestry for endangering the wildlife. Seriously? In the NWT? When she finally does get facts right, it's intrusive to the narrative. Temperance, the main character, decides to read a book and Reichs seems to cut and paste whole paragraphs, resulting in long boring history lessons that ruined any flow of suspense she had going.
And clearly she was going for suspense. So many chapters ended with cliff hangers, I expected Robert Langdon to show up, to stamp on Temperance's fingers and yell, "enough, already!"
But my absolute biggest beef of the book is the convoluted plot.I admit being hooked at the beginning. Temperance has made a gruesome discovery in Montreal. Suffice it to say it involves a lot of dead babies. Not for the faint of heart, it at least grabs a reader's attention. The main suspect has made a run for it, which leads Temperance and her fellow investigators to Yellowknife. And that, unfortunately, is where the whole book goes completely off the rails.
In a "Forensic Files" section at the end of the book, Reichs describes how this book came to being. It seems that the dead babies bit was inspired by three child murder cases that she'd worked on. (Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist in real life.) Recognizing how disturbing such cases are, she knew she wanted to work it into a plot. Then she says she had the good fortune of being invited to Yellowknife to attend the Northwords Literacy Festival. She comes and like many before her is fascinated by the place— the drugs, environmentalists, mining. Now she wants to write a book about that. But instead of simply writing two books, she tries to combine the two. She fails. Miserably. The baby story is far more interesting and better written but as soon as Temperance lands in Yellowknife, it's practically forgotten about and replaced with a mess of competing ideas, none of which were as compelling.
It's truly a dreadful, dreadful book.