Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kathy Reichs's Latest Mystery "Spider Bones" Due this August

So many real-life mysteries to solve, so little time, but finally author and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has penned an episode of Bones, the series inspired by her novels and work. The Witch in the Wardrobe airs tonight (Fox at 8 pm), and voila, the obligatory preview clip is below.

I regularly watch Bones, the series from Canadian Hart Hanson, based on Reichs’s novels, the Temperance Brennan mystery series. I’d read the books before the series premiered (five years ago) and liked it from the start. Unlike a lot of fans of the books, I appreciated that actress Emily Deschanel’s Brennan is (thanks to the demands of TV?) a much younger version of a 40-ish literary alter ego.

Many die-hard Reichs readers weren’t that appreciative in the early days. I recall going to see and listen to Reichs here in Vancouver, at a Q&A to promote the book Ashes to Bones, when it was released. Many in the crowd made it clear to Reichs that in their opinion TV’s ‘Tempe’ was 'too young.' Reichs offered the same answer then as she did recently when talking to reporters about her first TV-writing effort.

"I do think there was some reaction, maybe negative reaction, initially. But I don't think that's true anymore. People understand that we had a younger Tempe...on TV and a the books. But they understand that's an older part of the character," says Reichs, who in addition to writing serves as a forensic anthropologist in North Carolina and here in Canada, in Montreal, Quebec. She appears to have an affinity for many things Canadian, and has set several of her stories in this country.

Her next book, however, will very clearly be set in the United States and will tell a very-American story. Spider Bones, set for an August release, will be set in Hawaii and will again be pulled from the pages of Reichs's personal career archives: her forensic work on the reclaiming of American war dead.

"It draws on my experience," said Reichs. "I consulted for years [to] our central lab in Honolulu for the identification of [American] war dead. It's called JPAC, the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Commission. All of our war dead from Southeast Asia, Korea, World War II are identified here. So, it's going to draw on those experiences and Tempe will be going to Honolulu to straighten out a mix-up [of] an ID back in 1968."

Reichs has tackled many challenging subjects and projects. She was part of the recovery team in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. "Probably the most difficult working situation was Ground Zero. That was both physically and psychologically very demanding. But each case bring something different to the table, literally."

"I've got, for example, a little child's skeleton in my lab up in Montreal that I've had since 1989 that's never been ID'd although I think we may finally get this little guy identified."

The work can take a toll on anyone and although TV's Brennan displays hilariously little "EQ," emotional intelligence, the same can't be said of Reichs. "We have a similar sense of humour," she says. "But as far as her social awkwardness goes and her inability to form close relationship, I think we're different in those ways."

She certainly has built solid relationships with many fans, both on the page and on screen.

Here's the forensic evidence: photo above: The excessively gracious Reichs (C) takes the time to pose with fangirls, yours truly (L) and screenwriter Kat Montagu (R).

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