Categorized | Features

Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs. Published 2010.

The spider in the title does not refer to a small insect; they don’t have bones. But Spider Lowery does and he’s dead, a victim of his own incompetence in a strange auto-erotic ritual in a pond. Fingerprints say it’s Spider, but his dad says his son was a soldier killed in Vietnam 40 years ago whose remains were sent home for burial.
So the body is exhumed and doesn’t look a lot like Spider, although it could be. Hard to tell after all these years.
Turns out the military has an organization devoted to sorting out the complexities involved in keeping track of who was killed and where the bodies are.
Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, called in on the Spider case near Montreal, finds herself going to the army’s offices in Hawaii to check out the identity of the man in Spider’s coffin. At that point, things become very complex.
Spider’s dog tags are found in a box of bones in storage in Hawaii. But that guy just might be a civilian. Where did he come from? Other dead guys show up. No positive ID on any of them. They might all be Spider.
Spider’s dad refuses to give DNA sample. His late mother turns out to have two kinds of DNA, which is a complicating factor. A search is made for corroborating DNA for other boxes of bones, with limited success.
And there are the bone fragments found in the bay. Fresh kill that turns out to belong to gangbangers involved in a drug turf war. The only thing to do at this point is to bring in Spider’s cousin Reggie from Los Angeles. He knew Spider before he allegedly went off to war and is also reputed to be involved in the sale of drugs in LA. He could be the key to everything. Turns out he is.
This is a very complex plot, interspersed with brief episodes from Brennan’s private life, which features her distraught daughter, her old flame Ryan and his heroin-addicted daughter.
If you enjoy a plot with twists, turns and blind alleys, this is your book. Everything is resolved, of course, but it takes a while to get there.