On the way to Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan receives a call from the Charleston coroner. During the storm, a medical waste container has washed up on the beach. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Chillingly, Tempe recognizes many details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec fifteen years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she flies to Montreal to gather evidence and convince her boss Pierre LaManch to reopen the cold case. She also seeks the advice"and comfort"of her longtime beau Andrew Ryan.
Meanwhile, a storm of a different type gathers force in South Carolina. The citizens of Charleston are struck by a bacterium that, at its worst, can eat human flesh. Thousands panic and test themselves for a rare genetic mutation that may have rendered them vulnerable.
Shockingly, Tempe eventually discovers that not only are the victims in both grisly murder cases related, but that the murders and the disease outbreak also have a common cause…
About the author:
Kathy Reichs's first novel Déjà Dead, published in 1997, won the Ellis Award for Best First Novel and was an international bestseller. The Bone Code is Kathy's twentieth entry in her series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Kathy was also a producer of Fox Television's longest running scripted drama, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels. One of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Kathy divides her time between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Montreal, Québec. Visit her at KathyReichs.com or follow her on Twitter @KathyReichs.
The Bone Code
Simon & Schuster
Author: Kathy Reichs
Question: What originally inspired the idea of The Bone Code?
Kathy Reichs: I read a news report about a Chinese physician who disregarded ethical standards in his field and modified the genomes of two unborn baby girls. Wondered about a scenario in which what if this happened and the doer had less than honorable motives. Also, one aspect of the plot involves a pandemic-like situation. Though the book is set in a post pandemic world, I didn't want to ignore the fact of Covid.
Question: How did you develop your approach to forensic science?
Kathy Reichs: Science has been a lifelong interest of mine. I poked at it as a kid, pursued it as an undergraduate, followed through in graduate school. Eventually, I became a full professor at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. That promotion in rank left me with the freedom to explore new challenges. I'd written academic books but wanted to try something different. I had a colleague who was writing fiction. After reading one of her books, I thought, 'Maybe I can do this, too". It was during the 90s, and forensic science was just entering the public's consciousness. People had seen the O.J. trial, and they'd heard about DNA, fingerprints, blood spatter analysis and such. I wanted to create a strong female heroine with this new type of expertise. Also, I'd just finished working on a very interesting serial murder case. It all came together so, between teaching classes and analyzing skeletons, I wrote my first novel.
Question: What did you learn, about yourself, whilst writing The Bone Code?
Kathy Reichs: That I really still liked Tempe very much.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know, in real life?
Kathy Reichs: Clearly, Tempe's genius is based on myself. Ha ha! Seriously though, friends tell me that we have a very similar type of dry (sarcastic?) wit. Professionally, she's me. But I wanted my heroine to have flaws and foibles. For example, she's a recovering alcoholic. I suppose we are both very logical. We are both science-driven. We both love to solve mysteries. We both own cats. I am not out in the field las much as Tempe. She is a bit more adventurous than I am.
Question: What research did you do, prior to writing The Bone Code?
Kathy Reichs: A lot of reading about the Human Genome Project and how quickly the mapping had been accomplished - much faster than anticipated. A lot concerning vaccine production and gene editing tools. And hurricanes.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?
Kathy Reichs: Write every day. (Or paint. Or compose music. Or dance). Even if what you have written is awful, at the end of the day you can always delete it. On the other hand, you cannot edit a blank page. The more you write, the better you become.
Question: What or who inspired your love of reading/writing?
Kathy Reichs: I grew up a reader. A classic flashlight-under-the-bedspread case, tearing through Nancy Drew mysteries and little blue biographies of fabulous women like Jane Adams. I loved Toby Tyler books, the stories of a boy who ran away to join to the circus.
Question: What's next, for you?
Kathy Reichs: I am hard at work on Temperance Brennan book number twenty-one. No spoilers!