‘Cross Bones’ is the 8th Tempe Brennan novel by Kathy Reichs and, written not too long after Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’, also uses the plot tool of controversy about the life and family of Jesus.
In Montreal, Avram Ferris, a Jewish antiques dealer, is found shot. Due to attacks on the corpse by hungry cats, it requires the skills of Tempe, a forensic anthropologist, to determine if the death was suicide or murder. The autopsy is observed by a group of orthodox Jewish men, one of whom gives Tempe a photo of a skeleton, claiming that this was the reason for Ferris’s murder.
With little to go on, Tempe shows the picture to a friend, Jacob Drum, who is a biblical anthropologist. Jake immediately gets excited as he identifies the photo as a skeleton excavated from the Israeli site of Masada. Some believe it could even be the skeleton of Jesus. Pretty soon Tempe manages to track down the actual skeleton. With Ryan tracking a potential murderer to Israel, and Tempe in possession of a 2000 year old skeleton, they have an excellent excuse to travel to Israel where they meet up with Jake.
While in Israel, Jake shows Tempe a tomb he believes to belong to the family of Jesus and from which an Ossuary containing the bones of ‘James, Brother of Jesus’ is believed to have been stolen. During a rock fall, a previously undiscovered skeleton is exposed and suddenly Tempe and Jake have another potential Jesus skeleton.
But their discoveries are controversial. An early Christian at Masada would be unacceptable to the Jews and a tomb containing siblings, wife and children of Jesus would be unacceptable to the Christians. Suddenly everyone seems to be after Tempe and Jake to shut down further investigation and prevent discoveries from coming to light.
Some of this novel was pretty far-fetched. If so much hadn’t been based on fact, I would simply have dismissed it as another Tempe fantasy, instead I found it disturbing. Apart from that, the plot was pretty good and rocketed along at an excellent pace. Some of the repetition got to me after a while and the ending was a bit too convenient. But, this was a fascinating story with some interesting history thrown in and I look forward to reading the next in the series – ‘Break No Bones’.
Date Published 2005