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Speaking in Bones

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In this latest blockbuster novel from bestselling author Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan investigates what looks to be a typical missing person case, only to find herself digging up bones possibly left by a serial killer, a cult, or perhaps something not entirely of this world.

For every case that Temperance Brennan has solved, there remain numerous bodies that remain unidentified in her lab. Information on some of these cold cases is available online, where amateur detectives sometimes take a stab at solving cases.

When Tempe gets a call from Hazel “Lucky” Strike, a web sleuth who believes she’s successfully connected a body in Tempe’s lab to a missing eighteen-year-old girl, Tempe writes it off as another false alarm. Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-change proposal, Tempe has little patience for chasing false leads. But when the bones in the lab match the missing girl’s medical records, Tempe re-opens the case, returning to the spot where her remains were originally found.

What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones nearby. Even more troubling is that the area is known as a viewing point for a famous unexplained light phenomenon, and that a local cult nearby has significant interest in the site. Tempe’s suspicions turn to murder by ritual sacrifice—a theory that gains even more urgency when Hazel herself turns up dead. Struggling to follow the tracks of a killer who will do anything not to be discovered, Tempe races to solve the murders and unravel the mysteries surrounding the site before the body count climbs higher.

A suspenseful, modern addition to Temperance Brennan’s ongoing story, Speaking in Bones proves that Kathy’s pulse-pounding Bones series shows no signs of slowing down.

Speaking in Bones CHAPTER 1
“I’m unbound now. My wrists and ankles burn from the straps. My ribs are bruised and there’s a lump behind my ear. I don’t remember hitting my head. I’m lying very still because my whole body aches. Like I’ve been in a wreck. Like the time I crashed my bike. Why doesn’t my family save me? Is no one missing me? I have only my family. No friends. It was just too hard. I’m all alone. So alone. How long have I been here? Where is here? The whole world is slipping away. Everything. Everyone. Am I awake or asleep? Am I dreaming or is this real? Is it day or night?

“When they return they will hurt me again. Why? Why is this happening to me? I can’t hear a sound. No. That’s not true. I can hear my heart beating. Blood working inside my ears. I taste something bitter. Probably vomit stuck in my teeth. I smell cement. My own sweat. My dirty hair. I hate when my hair isn’t washed. I’m gonna open my eyes now. Got one. The other’s crusted shut. Can’t see much. It’s all blurry, like I’m looking up from way down underwater.

“I hate the waiting. That’s when the pictures take over my brain. Not sure if they’re memories or hallucinations. I see him. Always in black, his face crazy red and beaded with sweat. I avoid his eyes. Keep looking at his shoes. Shiny shoes. The candle flame’s a little yellow worm dancing on the leather. He stands over me, all big and nasty. Thrusts his horrid, smelly face close to mine. I feel his icky breath on my skin. He gets mad and yanks me by the hair. His veins go all bulgy. He screams and his words sound like they’re coming from another planet. Or like I’ve left my body and I’m listening from far away. I see his hand coming at me, clutching the thing so tight it quivers. I know I’m shaking but I’m numb. Or am I dead?

“No! Not now! Don’t let it happen now!

“My hands are going all cold and tingly. I shouldn’t be talking about him. I shouldn’t have said he was horrid.

“Yes. They’re coming.

“Why is this happening to me? What did I do? I’ve always tried to be good. Tried to do what Mama said. Don’t let them kill me! Mama, please don’t let them kill me!

“My mind is going all fuzzy. I have to stop talking.”

Silence, then the click-creak of a door opening. Closing.

Footsteps, unhurried, firm on the floor.

“Take your place.”

“No!”

“Don’t resist me.”

“Leave me alone!”

The cadence of frantic breathing.

The thunk of a blow.

“Please don’t kill me.”

“Do as I say.”

Sobbing.

Sound as if dragging.

Moaning. Rhythmic.

“Are you in my hands?”

“Filthy bitch!” Louder, deeper.

A soft rasp.

The tic of metal snapping into place.

“You will die, slut!”

“Will you answer me now?”

“Whore!”

The drumming of agitated fingers. Scratching.

“Give me what I need!”

Pfff! The violent hurling of spit.

“You will not answer?”

Moaning.

“This has only begun.”

Click-creak. The furious slam of a door.

Absolute stillness. Soft sobbing.

“Please don’t kill me.

“Please don’t kill me.

“Please.

“Kill me.”
Photograph © Marie-Reine Mattera

Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead, published in 1997, won the Ellis Award for Best First Novel and was an international bestseller.  Cold, Cold Bones is Kathy’s twenty-first entry in her series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Kathy was also a producer of Fox Television’s longest running scripted drama, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels. One of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Kathy divides her time between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Montreal, Québec. Visit her at KathyReichs.com or follow her on Twitter @KathyReichs.

“Kathy Reichs writes smart – no, make that brilliant – mysteries that are as realistic as non-fiction and as fast-paced as the best thrillers about Jack Reacher or Alex Cross.”

– James Patterson

“Each book in Kathy Reichs’s fantastic Temperance Brennan series is better than the last. They’re filled with riveting twists and turns – and no matter how many fine books she writes, I just can’t get enough!”

– Lisa Scottoline

“Reichs always delivers a pulse-pounding story.”

– Publisher's Weekly

“I love Kathy Reichs – always scary, always suspenseful, and I always learn something.”

– Lee Child

"I love a good mystery and have been fascinated by forensic science long before starting work on the show Bones. So I am a big fan of Kathy's books. I love the character of Temperance Brennan, her strong spirit and intelligence, and the humor in the book series."

– Emily Deschanel, star of Bones

"Nobody does forensics thrillers like Kathy Reichs. She's the real deal."

– David Baldacci

"Kathy Reichs continues to be one of the most distinctive and talented writers in the genre. Her legion of readers worldwide will agree with me when I declare that the more books she writes, the more enthusiastic fans she'll garner."

– Sandra Brown

More books from this author: Kathy Reichs

More books in this series: A Temperance Brennan Novel