About mini reviews:
Maybe you’re not an audio book person, or maybe you are. I provide mini reviews of audio books and give a recommendation on the format. Was this book improved by a voice actor? Would a physical copy have been better? Perhaps they complement each other? Read on. . .
Before I started Swamp Bones, I had not read any of Kathy Reichs other “Temperance Brennan” books. Swamp Bones is #16.5, but I don’t think it makes a difference where you jump in — it didn’t affect me that I hadn’t started with #1. You get quick information about Temperance, a forensic anthropologist, which means she examines human remains so destroyed that an autopsy cannot be performed. Temperance is headed to Florida for vacation, staying with another scientist she met at a conference. Her friend does the same thing Temperance does — examines the deceased to determine what happened — except the friend looks at avian remains. Temperance leaves the airport to head to the ornithologist’s lab so she can pick up a spare house key. Hard at work, her friend shows Temperance a vulture she’s examining, which was found inside of a python. Guess what Temperance notices inside the vulture? Feet bones! There are never vacations for people like Temperance.
Although at it’s core Swamp Bones is a mystery — whose foot is that, and who killed the owner of said foot — I didn’t care about those questions. When I got to then end and learned the murderer’s name, I was very “meh.” That doesn’t mean the book was boring. Temperance’s skills are all authentic; author Kathy Reichs was a forensic anthropologist and thus has years of decorated experience and time teaching FBI agents to use in her fiction. Temperance can tell that the foot was severed with a chainsaw and that the owner is a young adult female who was in good health. I was amazed, to be honest. Every time Temperance examined a piece of human remains, Reichs wrote scientifically in a way that allowed me to follow along but never seemed too dumbed down.
Not only is the scientific inquiry and analysis highly interesting, Reichs crafts a believable setting, too. The Florida Everglades are teeming with life, especially the invasive Burmese python that is not only not native to North America, but is so weirdly adaptable that it’s thriving in these wetlands. The Everglades are also home to the American alligator, so lots of chompy squeezey things! When Temperance comes into contact with the swamp, things get dangerous:
“What the hell are you doing in the swamp at night?”
Water rippled to my left. Close. I turned only my head, slowly. Saw nothing.
I was about to reply to Jordan, when something smooth and solid brushed my arm underwater. Something thick and long. Very long.
My heart leapt into my throat.
“Dammit,” Jordan boomed. “You just cost me a sixteen-footer.”
Reichs takes readers (or, like me, listeners) into the world of python and gator hunting and swamp people, all in the name of scientific inquiry/police demand. Audiobook narrator Katherine Borowitz does a fine job. Her work is nothing special, but I wasn’t annoyed, and the mixing kept me from turning the audiobook up/down needlessly. Therefore, Swamp Bones can be enjoyed either on the page or through speakers. I plan to check out Bones on Ice, another novella, next!