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Break No Bones

February 15, 2008

On impulse at the library the other day, I picked up Kathy Reichs’s Break No Bones. Years ago, on the recommendation of a friend, I’d checked out Deja Death, but I couldn’t get into it. Every time I see one of her Reichs’s books in the “New Fiction” shelves, I remember that past experience and I pass on by, so I’m not entirely sure why I borrowed one of her books this time. I might have opened Break No Bones up and liked the sturdiness of the prose; I might have hit a spot where she explains forensic anthropology. (Temperence Brennan, the series’ narrator, is a forensic anthropologist…just like Kathy Reichs.) I don’t remember in particular; I kind of went to town in “New Fiction” and my thought processes are a blur.

Whatever the reason I borrowed the book, I’m glad I did — in fact, I might go back and try another one. I finished the book last night, and I enjoyed the experience of reading it. I didn’t fall tip over teakettle over it — not like The Spymaster’s Lady, or the first time I read Lord of Scoundrels. With those books, I wanted more, now from the author. I’m not feeling that about Reichs.

The character, Temperance Brennan, is also the protagonist of a TV show, Bones, starring Emily Deschanel. The one episode I saw was a decent procedural mystery, with Temperance one in a long line of misfit detectives. There’s a sense that on some level she doesn’t entirely get the irrational nuance of human interaction, as if she’s tried to apply a formidable intellect to something that doesn’t work on an intellectual level. In the afterward of Break No Bones, Reichs talks about the TV Temperance, and how that character is the narrator of the novels in the early days of her career, while the narrator is rather older.

Still, there are part of the book’s narrative that reminded me of the TV character, of bits that weren’t quite sensitive, just a little smug or inappropriate. Maybe that’s what keeps me from wanting to glom Reichs’s backlist; I’m not sure I like her narrator, and I’m not sure I want to spend a lot of time with characters I don’t like. At least not now, when the bulk of my creative, narrative-centered energy is focused on my own work.

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