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As fresh and shocking as today’s headlines, a bone-chilling Tempe Brennan novel of international black marketeering in fetal tissue, decades old mass murder, and contemporary homicide from New York Times bestselling author and world-class forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs.
It was a summer morning in 1982 when soldiers ravaged the village of Chupan Ya, raping and killing women and children. Twenty-three victims are said to lie in the well where, twenty years later, Dr. Temperance Brennan and a team from the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation now dig. No records were kept. To their families, the dead are “the disappeared.”
Forensic anthropologist for the medical examiners in North Carolina and Montreal, Tempe is in Guatemala for a month’s service to help some families identify and bury their dead. She digs in a cold, damp pit where she finds a hair clip, a fragment of cloth, a tiny sneaker. Her trowel touches something hard: the hip of a child no more than two years old.
It’s heartbreaking work. Something savage happened here twenty years ago. The violence continues today. The team is packing up for the day when an urgent satellite call comes in. Two colleagues are under attack. Shots ring out, and Tempe listens in horror to a woman’s screams. Then there is silence. Dead silence.
With this new violence, everything changes, both for the team and for Tempe, who’s asked by the Guatemalan police for her expertise on another case. Four privileged young women have vanished from Guatemala City in recent months. One is the Canadian ambassador’s daughter. Some remains have turned up in a septic tank, and Tempe unfortunately knows septic tanks.
Teaming with Special Crimes Investigator Bartolomé Galiano, and with Montreal detective Andrew Ryan, who may have more than just professional reasons to join her on the case, Tempe soon finds herself in a dangerous web that stretches far beyond Guatemala’s borders. The stakes are huge. As power, money, greed, and science converge, Tempe must make life-altering choices.
From cutting-edge science in the lab, where Tempe studies fetal bones and cat hair DNA, to a chilling encounter in a lonely morgue, Grave Secrets is powerful, page-turning entertainment from a crime fiction superstar who combines riveting authenticity with witty, elegant prose.
Fans of the Temperance Brennan series will be pleased by forensic anthropologist Reichs's latest installment (after Fatal Voyage; Deadly Decisions; etc.). Grave Secrets finds Tempe plying her pathology trade in Guatemala, investigating a massacre site as a favor to a Guatemalan anthropology association. However, when her team is ambushed by gunmen, Tempe finds herself ensnared in a mesh of corruption and murder stretching from Guatemala City to Montreal, involving DAs, military thugs and kinky diplomats. Tempe finds herself drawn and trapped between the two cops investigating: her longtime Canadian suitor, Lt. Andrew Ryan, and her would-be Latin lover, agente Bartolom Galiano. That the two men know each other and are friends doesn't help the situation. When a nosy reporter looking into the massacre is gunned down before Tempe's eyes, she realizes she herself is the next likely target. As has been said before, Reichs has much in common with Patricia Cornwell, though her language is more stripped down and there is less melodrama between autopsies. Devotees of medical procedurals will appreciate the detailed descriptions of bone formation and the mechanics of bodily decomposition within a septic tank; others may not. But the author keeps the twists coming, and by the novel's climax, she has skillfully interwoven her many subplots and red herrings into a satisfying puddle of sex, sleaze, greed and gore.