Kathy Reichs: Bare Bones

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Kathy Reichs Bare Bones
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Also By Kathy Reichs







1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2003 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

SCRIBNER and design are trademarks of Macmillan Library Reference USA, Inc., used under license by Simon & Schuster, the publisher of this work.


Text set in Stempel Garamond

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Reichs, Kathy.

Bare bones/Kathy Reichs.

p. cm.

1. Brennan, Temperance (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Forensic anthropology—Fiction. 3. Women anthropologists—Fiction. 4. Endangered species—Fiction. 5. Smuggling—Fiction. 6. North Carolina—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3568.E476345B375 2003



ISBN 0-7432-6008-2

Visit us on the World Wide Web:


Dedicated to all those fighting to protect our precious wildlife,


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service

The World Wildlife Foundation

The Animals Asia Foundation


I WISH TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO CAPTAIN JOHN GALLAGHER (retired); to Detective John Appel, Guilford County, North Carolina, Sheriff ’s Department (retired); to Detective Chris Dozier, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department; and, especially, to Ira J. Rimson, P.E., for help with the Cessna/drug scenario.

Many of those working to protect endangered wildlife gave generously of their time and expertise. Special thanks to Bonnie C. Yates, forensics specialist, Morphology/Mammals Team Leader, and Ken Goddard, director, Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory; to Lori Brown, investigative assistant, and Tom Bennett, resident agent in charge, United States Fish and Wildlife Service; and to Agent Howard Phelps, Carolyn Simmons, and the staff at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. You are on the front lines, battling to save what we can’t afford to lose. Your efforts are appreciated.

David M. Bird, Ph.D., McGill University, provided information on threatened bird species. Randy Pearce, DDS, and James W. Williams, J.D., shared their knowledge of the Melungeons of Tennessee. Eric Buel, Ph.D., director, Vermont Forensics Laboratory, coached me on amelogenin. Michael Baden, M.D., and Claude Pothel, M.D., enlightened me on the details of diatoms and death by drowning.

Captain Barry Faile, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department, and Michael Morris, Lancaster County coroner, were patient with my questions. Michael Sullivan, M.D., welcomed me at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner facility. Terry Pitts, D.Min., NCFD, offered suggestions on funeral home basements. Judy H. Morgan, GRI, kept me accurate on Charlotte real estate and geography.

I appreciate the continued support of Chancellor James Woodward of the University of North Carolina–Charlotte. Merci to André Lauzon, M.D., chef de service, and to all of my colleagues at the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale.

A thousand thanks to Jim Junot for answers to a million questions.

Thanks to Paul Reichs for comments on the manuscript, and to the whole ragtag beach bunch for title suggestions and other minutiae.

My incredibly patient and brilliant editor, Susanne Kirk, took a rough piece of work and made it flow.

A special thanks to my supersonic agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. You delivered Wyatt Z. the same day I delivered Bare Bones. It was a very good year.


AS I WAS PACKAGING WHAT REMAINED OF THE DEAD BABY, THE man I would kill was burning pavement north toward Charlotte.

I didn’t know that at the time. I’d never heard the man’s name, knew nothing of the grisly game in which he was a player.

At that moment I was focused on what I would say to Gideon Banks. How would I break the news that his grandchild was dead, his youngest daughter on the run?

My brain cells had been bickering all morning. You’re a forensic anthropologist, the logic guys would say. Visiting the family is not your responsibility. The medical examiner will report your findings. The homicide detective will deliver the news. A phone call.

All valid points, the conscience guys would counter. But this case is different. You know Gideon Banks.

I felt a deep sadness as I tucked the tiny bundle of bones into its container, fastened the lid, and wrote a file number across the plastic. So little to examine. Such a short life.

As I secured the tub in an evidence locker, the memory cells floated an image of Gideon Banks. Wrinkled brown face, fuzzy gray hair, voice like ripping duct tape.

Expand the image.

A small man in a plaid flannel shirt arcing a string mop across a tile floor.

The memory cells had been offering the same image all morning. Though I’d tried to conjure up others, this one kept reappearing.

Gideon Banks and I had worked together at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for almost two decades until his retirement three years back. I’d periodically thanked him for keeping my office and lab clean, given him birthday cards and a small gift each Christmas. I knew he was conscientious, polite, deeply religious, and devoted to his kids.

And he kept the corridors spotless.

That was it. Beyond the workplace, our lives did not connect.

Until Tamela Banks placed her newborn in a woodstove and vanished.

Crossing to my office, I booted up my laptop and spread my notes across the desktop. I’d barely begun my report when a form filled the open doorway.

“A home visit really is above and beyond.”

I hit “save” and looked up.

The Mecklenburg County medical examiner was wearing green surgical scrubs. A stain on his right shoulder mimicked the shape of Massachusetts in dull red.

“I don’t mind.” Like I didn’t mind suppurating boils on my buttocks.

“I’ll be glad to speak to him.”

Tim Larabee might have been handsome were it not for his addiction to running. The daily marathon training had wizened his body, thinned his hair, and leatherized his face. The perpetual tan seemed to gather in the hollows of his cheeks, and to pool around eyes set way too deep. Eyes that were now crimped with concern.

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