Mini Review: Bones on Ice by Kathy Reichs 🎧

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. . .

Just to reiterate from my Swamp Bones post, Kathy Reichs has twenty of these Dr. Temperance Brennan/bone novels, and four novellas. I started with novella #16.5 because I wanted a short audiobook. I had no problems following along despite having no background on Dr. Brennan. I found Swamp Bones fascinating, with a great protagonist, setting, and loads of cool forensic science, that I grabbed Bones on Ice, another novella (#17.5).

Dr. Brennan is asked for by name; the wealthy Hallis family wants her to examine the remains of a body brought down from Mount Everest’s “death zone,” the area at which hikers who die will not be rescued. Their daughter, an experienced mountain climber, died in the death zone three years ago. I learned that there are hundreds of dead bodies on Mount Everest — in real life, not just fiction — that aren’t rescued because it’s too dangerous. Some famous bodies even serve as markers for other hikers. Gross.

Even though Brighton’s rich mother paid the $30,000 to have her daughter’s body recovered should Brighton die on Mount Everest, Brighton was never returned. But then a recent earthquake made several bodies accessible to the Sherpas, and Brighton’s was identified. Brighton’s body was dragged unceremoniously down the mountain before the Hallis family pulled some strings with their money and influence and had their daughter shipped back to the U.S. in the same condition in which she was found, even though “international law normally requires embalming” human remains.

Apparently, frozen bodies are Dr. Brennan’s specialty because she splits her time in North Carolina (warm, balmy) and Quebec (frozen). She knows how to thaw out the body without damaging it, how to cut off and rehydrate mummified fingers that need plumped up before fingerprinted, and works with a team who removes the skin from the bones — the good technician’s can do the face in one piece. Gross. The Hallis family wants confirmation that the body is, in fact, Brighton. Just peace of mind demanded by a rich family that is friends with all the right political people. Most signs point to the body being Brighton’s — gender, age range, the blond hair, the clothing — but the confirmation is hard to make because all the teeth are missing from the skull. Gross. Dr. Brennan interviews the other hikers who went up Mount Everest with Brighton that day in an effort to find out what happened, which would provide clues as to how Brighton died.

This was another great novella. All of Brighton’s old climbing crew seems shifty for different reasons: jealousy, who dated whom, business dealings with Brighton, and access to money. The fact that Brighton didn’t remove her clothes when she should have succumbed to “paradoxical undressing.” Again, my favorite part was not the murder mystery, but the forensic anthropology. As she looks at each part of the body, Dr. Brennan discovers more tiny clues that change her analysis of what happened to this mummified frozen corpse. Although, the feet are no help — the boots are frozen on and can’t be removed. Gross. Kathy Reichs’s books teach me while keeping me entertained. That’s not to say the mystery wasn’t compelling; I thought it was more interesting than the reveal of Swamp Bones.

Bones on Ice was read by Katherine Borowitz; nothing fancy, but no problems with sound mixing or poor voice narration. Because Borowitz’s voices doesn’t add to the story, you could happily pick up a text copy of Bones on Ice. I’ve simply become a big fan of Reichs’s books during my commute; they have an uncanny ability to keep me focused on both driving and listening, where other novels fail to do so.

16 comments

  1. Now I want to know the ending (did she have very quick scurvy and all her teeth fell out). I saw a climbing movie once with a couple of Australian actors and they had to make their way around a body frozen into an ice wall.

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    • Man, if you can get scurvy in the time it takes to climb a mountain, you may have had a weak relationship with your vitamins to begin with. Ha! No, it wasn’t scurvy.

      Apparently, these frozen bodies just hang out at the top of Everest and are famous markers for alive climbers. Famous, frozen, fleshy markers. Ewwww.

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  2. I’m glad you’re enjoying these! Do they feel relatively believable? I’ve seen a few episodes of the TV show and it seemed pretty over the top, the things she was able to figure out.

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    • I read on Goodreads that the show and the books are incredibly different. The only thing that have in common is “stuff with some bones” and a character NAMED Dr. Brennan (they aren’t similar, apparently). The books are super believable and explain all the science, too. The author, Kathy Reichs, was a forensic pathologist. She’s done all the things her character does, which is pretty amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so fascinated by this, but it also sounds very gross! haha My husband and I used to go to a mountain film festival each year here in the rockies before we had kids (sigh) and I became obsessed with watching adventure movies, so I already knew that there are a ton of dead bodies up on Everest. At least they died doing what they loved…

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  4. Omg, real life bodies serving as markers for climbers? Yikes, that’s disturbing. Otherwise this sounds like a good mystery, I’m always drawn to weird, unsettling details and am now wondering what happened to the girl’s teeth! And with ice such a big part of the story, this seems appropriately seasonal as well, if a bit macabre for Christmas. 🙂

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