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Grave Secrets

1 rating: 3.0
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1 review about Grave Secrets

A little more forensic detail, if you please.

  • Dec 26, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+3
It's a sad fact that world history is rife with complex, deeply disturbing stories of mass murders and genocides by governments and dictators - Germany, Japan and China, Uganda, Haiti and more. The list is all too lengthy. Temperance Brennan, forensic pathologist, is on site in Guatemala helping the current government to clear up a period in their history that they have chosen to expose to the light of day and the scrutiny of a critical world that they hope will forgive them for their actions in a dirtier past.

When she's ambushed by gunmen and an investigative reporter is brutally murdered, it becomes apparent that, despite the government's wishes for an open investigation of the massacre, there are obviously secrets that someone will do almost anything to keep buried. Temperance Brennan comes to the realization that she may be on somebody's hit list.

On the plus side, Temperance Brennan is a somewhat more focused, considerably less angst-ridden character than her American counterpart, Kay Scarpetta, as she is portrayed in the Patricia Cornwell novels. That's certainly not to say that she's flat and without a certain depth and flair. "Grave Secrets", for example, finds Brennan torn between two lovers, her long-time Canadian friend, Lt Andrew Ryan, and Bartolomé Galiano, a hotter blooded, more ardent Hispanic sort of more recent acquaintance.

Publisher's Weekly was graphic and rather effusive in their praise of the novel. They talked about skillfully interwoven plots and red herrings that melted into "a satisfying puddle of sex, sleaze, greed and gore". For my taste, I'd prefer to see a little more focus on the mechanics of forensic investigation and a little less attention to a plot that I believe was too complex by half.

Leave the plots and counter-plots to the international spy vs spy intrigue thrillers, I say. If you're going to create a protagonist who's a skilled forensic pathologist, then let her do her work. Don't attempt to make her all things to all people capable of puzzling through plots so complex as to defy believability and the best police efforts of two countries.

Paul Weiss

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