‘Spider Bones/ Mortal Remains’ is the 13th Tempe Brennan novel by Kathy Reichs. The main plot of the story concerns the identification of the body of John ‘Spider’ Lowery.
A body is found floating in a pond in Quebec. As the body is badly decomposed, Tempe is called in to help with the identification. Fingerprints identify the body as belonging to John Lowery. The only problem is that John Lowery is listed as killed in 1968 while fighting in Vietnam.
So Tempe has John Lower’s military grave exhumed and takes the remains to Hawaii where JPAC (the defence organisation that identifies service people killed overseas) is based. While still working on the identification, another set of remains shows up with John Lowery’s dog tags.
The unravelling of the multiple John Lowerys and the identification of the different sets of remains forms the main plot of the story.
While in Hawaii, Tempe helps the medical examiner identify some remains left by sharks. Conveniently the remains include an unusual bone surgery and part of an unusual tattoo. This sub plot seemed a bit contrived and seemed only to serve the purpose of allowing Tempe’s life to be threatened by local gangs.
Tempe’s daughter Katy has joined her in Hawaii while getting over the death of a friend. Katy comes across as a spoilt brat for most of the story. They are also joined by Ryan and his recovering drug addict daughter Lily. Lily seems to be even more of a brat than Katy. Tempe and Ryan spend most of the novel thinking about getting their relationship back together but never actually do anything about it.
While the main plot – the John Lowery identification, was pretty good, the rest of the book didn’t really appeal to me. The characters from JPAC were excellent but Ryan was a nothing in this novel and the two daughters were horrid.
Date Published 2010