Full disclosure: I am not a particular Kathy Reichs fan, despite the fact that she is an internationally bestselling author of 22 novels. And so my review of her latest, The Bone Hacker (Simon and Schuster 2023) is coloured by my bias. I do realise, however, that there are thousands of Reichs’ readers who eagerly await the next instalment in the life of forensic anthropologist Dr Temperence Brennan, and like many crime fiction fans, have followed this one character through the trials and tribulations of many cases over many years.
For those fans, The Bone Hacker will tick all the right boxes. Set in the intriguing and beautiful islands of Turks and Caicos, Brennan is called in to investigate the mysterious case of a man thought to be struck by lightning, but an unusual tattoo and the discovery that several young male tourists have vanished from the islands over the years – and one murdered, with his left hand cut off – leads Brennan into the intricacies of a case or cases much more complex than she was prepared for. Gang violence seems to be a possibility but as Brennan gets closer to the truth, she uncovers clues to a connection with spyware in mobile phones which potentially puts the world’s security at risk, and the closer she gets definitely makes her a target for the killer or killers.
What some readers will find fascinating authenticity and scientific detail, I found too much exposition and explanation. Every forensic and technical angle is carefully and painstakingly explored which I felt hampered the forward action of the story. I also felt some of the characters were a little two dimensional, and some of the plot lines a tad implausible.
Reichs’ dialogue is authentic and sharp, however, and I have no doubt that regular fans will delight in the further development of Brennan’s character and life situation. And the story itself was intricate and interesting enough to keep me turning the pages until the end.
Definitely one for die-hard fans who love contemporary procedural crime novels that feature regular protagonists.