Why did I read it: Despite my intense and long-winded loathing of Spider Bones, I was resolved to give this series one more chance.
How I would rate it: 3 out of 5 stars.
A body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to Lowes Motor Speedway near Charlotte just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for race week. The next day, a NASCAR crew member shares with Tempe a devastating story. Twelve years earlier his sister, Cyndi Gamble, then a high school senior who wanted to be a professional racecar driver, disappeared along with her boyfriend, Cale Lovette. Lovette kept company with a group of right wing extremists known as the Patriot Posse. Is the body Cyndi’s? Or Cale’s?
At the time of their disappearance, the FBI joined the investigation, but the search was quickly terminated. As Tempe is considering multiple theories, including an FBI cover-up, a surprising, secret substance is found with the body, leaving Tempe to wonder what exactly the government was up to. . . .
Review: After listening to very short sentences and fragments for days on end, I don’t have it in me to really write a very long, elaborate review. Instead, here is the Good, the Bad, and the So-So of Temperance Brennan’s latest adventure in the exciting world of forensic anthropology.
– Linda Emond. She has a fantastic voice and really did a great job differentiating between characters. And really having a good narrator is one of the most important things when it comes to an audio book.
– Tempe actually being sort of laid back at times and a little less prickly or defensive. She was relatively likable for a good chunk of the time, managed to have a sense of humor sometimes, and came across quite often as grumpy due to lack of sleep rather than as a hellish harpy hating on people for no apparent reason.
– The case was actually interesting. While not incredibly complicated, there was an actual mystery going on here with various cold cases. I had issues with it that I will get into later because I am not quite sure that everything was explained well enough or to my satisfaction, BUT the murders and the subsequent investigations were given more page time and more respect than in previous installments. I appreciated that.
– Other competent investigators were involved. This time Temperence wasn’t the only one being smart and getting things done. I appreciated that.
– The pacing and focus for the majority of the book. Other books have been sort of scatter-brained due to the addition of unrelated cases. Some have been ruined by impromptu family vacations, friends riddled with issues, family reunions, daughter issues, blog stalkers, and pointless relationship drama. This book had one such subplot, which I will touch upon later, but at least there weren’t ten of them. There also wasn’t a lot of different changes of scene, which might disappoint some, but pleased me because having to stay in one area made characters more task-oriented and motivated to follow up leads.
– No repetitive lab work or long lectures on the nitty-gritty details of forensic anthropology. Tempe does just enough of her actual job to keep things interesting, but it wasn’t boring or pointless for readers who don’t enjoy scenes full of medical jargon and staring at bones.
– Hardly any time was spent cursing my CD player! I did get exasperated often towards the middle and then at the end when it become painfully obvious who the murderer was, but my ire was nothing compared to what it could have been.
– Temperence STILL being married to her husband after 10 years and despite the fact that he is getting married again. This may seem like a small thing, but honestly I loathe the situation. It lends to too much drama and not enough closure. And as I suspect Pete probably won’t end up getting married… Ugh. Just. Ugh.
– Temperence’s Issues With Men. This relates to the previous two points because she is still married and has unresolved issues with her husband, but she has a double-standard when it comes to whoever she is seeing. Or whoever happens to be nearby.
– The lack of Ryan. This is not so much a criticism so much as a fact that makes me sad. I am very fond of Andrew Ryan.
– The lack of believability when it comes to most of the minor characters. Everyone seemed to be based off of mash-up of idiotic sitcom personalities and unkind, unflattering stereotypes. I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes at the descriptions, professions, furnishings, and behaviors of the people Tempe came across.
– Tempe conveniently forgetting things all the time and constantly rehashing events in the form of dreams, thoughts produced by insomnia, or Tempe relating events to other people. I don’t have a memory like a sieve and I got really tired of being told the same thing over and over again.
Then there’s the fact that the things Tempe forgot or couldn’t be bothered to prioritize were mind-boggling. Such as returning phone calls to people in dangerous and time-sensitive situations. I won’t spoil anything for you, but suffice it to say that things go very, very badly because of her selective indifference. The fact that she felt guilty wasn’t enough to appease me completely, but it helped and I’m digressing.
Anyway, I suspect that this is all meant to act as padding or as a means of stalling for time, but in every book the result is the same. I figure out what’s going on and then spend the rest of the book wondering why on earth Tempe suddenly has the IQ of a turnip. The only other suspicion I have is that someone involved with these books much think that their readers, much like the majority of the secondary female characters, are dimmer than the dimmest bulb. It’s very hard to tell which theory is correct even at the best of times.
– Summer and Pete’s wedding issues and subsequent bickering. Seriously? WHO CARES?! I think one of the perks to reading this would be getting to skip over that. It had nothing to do with the case and it was awful.
– Temperence working often with Slydell, a cop so repulsive and boorish that he made Tempe seem way nicer than she actually was when it came to conversations with suspects and witnesses. I understand the reasoning behind this decision, but I missed Ryan. And I wasn’t fooled. Maybe she kept her unkind thoughts to herself, but they were almost all the same ones that he kept voicing.
– Saying the title of the book in the book during a pointlessly dramatic moment after using the nouns making up the title in close proximity in the paragraphs leading up to it. A small gripe, but it made me groan and so it counts as a Bad.
– Lack of suspects. Although the case was a bit out there and strange at first, there weren’t a lot of people to blame and once there was, it seemed like everyone suspected him but Tempe who had developed selective amnesia.
– The way things ended. Every other book in this series seems to end with near-death experiences and strangely, convenient realizations. This one also resulted in way too much summarizing of events on Tempe’s part. I also don’t think the case or the fact that it ended up being left unsolved for so long made much sense, which was disappointing because it was more interesting than others have been.
– Temperence constantly info-dumping. Is it still incredibly annoying? Yes. But at least this time Tempe wasn’t offering up lectures on Vietnam and her lectures served a purpose. However, because she info-dumps so frequently, it does make it very difficult to understand how she can still forget things all the time.
– Temperence’s quick assessments and judgements of others. Particularly other women. I did appreciate that a few of them ended up being somewhat wrong in this book, but I don’t like her constantly being vindicated when she’s really just reading too much into anything people say and being an ornery jerk to people she doesn’t know.
Granted some of her reactions were hilarious such as comparing Summer to a corn muffin, which is why this is in the So-So category… But a lot of it just didn’t sit right with me or make me laugh. I think this sort of behavior would work much better if Tempe was a mad scientist or an evil super villain. And to be honest, I sort of wish she was because she has the right temperment. Plus it would make this series all the more enjoyable.
– Cotton Gallomore. Although the instant attraction combined with him and Tempe singing “We Are The Champions” and dancing around her house made me die inside, he was not a bad character at all.
Not bad and fairly entertaining. Flash and Bones definitely covers the same sort of ground as the previous thirteen books, but the audio book was worth listening to.