Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

Temperance Brennan goes NASCAR! Well, not really, but this one centres in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, just before and during Race Week. It's supposed to be near Brennan's home base, and that worked for me better than the only previous Reichs I'd read, set in Quebec and Hawaii. At any rate, having read two, I'd say this is a competent mystery, but oh man, have I ever been spoiled by Louise Penny. In comparison, this is just so surface.

In other words, if you're looking for a quick, not-particularly-challenging-or-deep mystery, go right ahead. The solution is fairly satisfying. It moves right along. It just doesn't do anything more than be a procedural mystery. Not even capture the lives of the rich and murderous a la Agatha Christie. Or the small town stylings with Miss Marple. It's just so...straightforward.

As far as NASCAR goes, I have to confess that I watch NASCAR with my husband. We've fallen off in recent years, but I'd say we still tune in for a good third to half of the season, whenever it's on TV or convenient. My husband's driver is retiring at the end of the year, so it's anyone's guess if that'll be it for NASCAR for us. I read, and look up every once in a while, check where Jeff Gordon is, go back to the book.

In other words, without being a fervent fan, I know NASCAR. So I have this to say - Reichs has clearly done her research. And her main character doesn't know much about the racing world, so that's fine. What ends up happening is that you get well-researched facts, that still don't quite jump the gap to feeling like NASCAR. That is perhaps inevitable.

However, the end of the book, which I will not spoil, draws on an interesting and disturbing part of NASCAR culture, and when it was revealed that was where we were going, I approved.

There are also the FBI, ricin, white supremacist groups, a missing CDC guy, and a body in an oil drum to contend with. And a sexy head of security at Charlotte? Brennan has a lot of love interests, it appears. The book lists them off at one point, with what I read as an exhausted air. While it's cool that there's no particular premium placed here on settling down into monogamous bliss, one has to wonder if four or five sometimes sex partners in the picture at the same time (most of them to be very far away and have troubles that mean there is no actual sex) is a bit much?

I'm glad it's not the centre of the series. But it's so diffuse, it feels like it could use some pruning. Sorry, guys.

The thing that did bother me about the book was the way Reichs does descriptions. It's more like product placement than anything else. We're always told what brand Brennan's eating, and that's all the descriptive prose we get. It's just lists, not actual description. I started to roll my eyes just a little bit.

In the end, this is fine. It doesn't change my decision to ditch bestseller lists in any way. The mystery is competent. It's not anything more.

No comments:

Post a Comment