Kathy Reichs: Flash and Bones

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ALSO BY KATHY REICHS

SPIDER BONES

206 BONES

DEVIL BONES

BONES TO ASHES

BREAK NO BONES

CROSS BONES

MONDAY MOURNING

BARE BONES

GRAVE SECRETS

FATAL VOYAGE

DEADLY DÉCISIONS

DEATH DU JOUR

DÉJÀ DEAD

SCRIBNER

A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

www.SimonandSchuster.com

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 © 2011 by Temperance Brennan, L.P.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Scribner Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Scribner hardcover edition August 2011

SCRIBNER and design are registered trademarks of The Gale Group, Inc., used under license by Simon & Schuster, Inc., the publisher of this work.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com.

DESIGNED BY ERICH HOBBING

Manufactured in the United States of America

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011024475

ISBN 978-1-4391-0241-1

ISBN 978-1-4391-1280-9 (ebook)

For

Declan Rex Reichs

Born July 1, 2010

Contents

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Flash and Bones would not have been possible without the help of Barry Byrd. Muchas gracias, Byrdman! I owe you.

Scott and Tiffany Smith invited me into their home and included me with the Race Week gang. Thanks. You created a new fan. Marcus Smith and Bryan Hammond welcomed me to the Charlotte Motor Speedway and answered endless questions about NASCAR and the track. Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson’s awesome crew chief, provided information on cars and race teams. Marty Smith of ESPN offered the perspective of a media insider. Bruton Smith’s hospitality in the owner’s suite was greatly appreciated.

Drs. Jane Brock, Patty McFeeley, and Mike Graham responded to my queries about ricin. Dr. William C. Rodriguez and Mike Warns answered a million questions each. Sergeant Harold (Chuck) Henson, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, helped with details on policing and law enforcement.

D. G. Martin shared an article on the history of stock car racing, and David Perry graciously donated Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France, by Daniel S. Pierce, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.

I appreciate the continued support of Chancellor Philip L. Dubois of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

I am grateful to my family for their patience and understanding. Amazing how they still put up with my grumpy phases.

Deepest gratitude to my agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, and to my genius editors, Nan Graham and Susan Sandon. I also want to thank all those who work so very hard on my behalf, including: Katherine Monaghan, Paul Whitlatch, Rex Bonomelli, Kara Watson, Simon Littlewood, Gillian Holmes, Rob Waddington, Glenn O’Neill, Kathleen Nishimoto, Lauren Levine, Tracy Fisher, Michelle Feehan, Cathryn Summerhayes, and Raffaella De Angelis. I am also indebted to the Canadian crew, especially to Kevin Hanson, Amy Cormier, and David Millar.

And, of course, I am grateful to my readers. Without you, what’s the point?

If I have forgotten to thank anyone I am truly sorry. Though I tried to be careful, if the book has errors they are my fault.

FLASH AND BONES

LOOKING BACK, I THINK OF IT AS RACE WEEK IN THE RAIN. Thunderboomers almost every day. Sure, it was spring. But these storms were over the top.

In the end, Summer saved my life.

I know. Sounds bizarre.

This is what happened.

Bloated, dark clouds hung low to the ground, but so far no rain.

Lucky break. I’d spent the morning digging up a corpse.

Sound macabre? Just part of the job. I’m a forensic anthropologist. I recover and analyze the dead that present in less than pristine condition—the burned, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, decomposed, and skeletal.

OK. Today’s target wasn’t actually a corpse. I’d been searching for overlooked body parts.

Short version. Last fall a housewife vanished from her Cabarrus County home in rural North Carolina. A week ago, while I was away on a working vacation in Hawaii, a trucker admitted to strangling the woman and burying her body in a sandpit. Impatient, the local cops had sallied forth with shovels and buckets. They delivered the bones in a Mott’s applesauce carton to my employer, the Medical Examiner’s Office, in neighboring Mecklenburg County.

Yesterday, my aloha tan still glowing, I’d begun my analysis. A skeletal inventory revealed that the hyoid, the mandible, and all of the upper incisors and canines were missing.

No teeth, no dental ID. No hyoid, no evidence of strangulation. Dr. Tim Larabee, the Mecklenburg County medical examiner, asked me to have a second go at the sandpit.

Correcting screwups usually makes me cranky. Today I was feeling upbeat.

I’d quickly found the missing bits and dispatched them to the MCME facility in Charlotte. I was en route to a shower, a late lunch, and time with my cat.

It was 1:50 p.m. My sweat-soaked tee was pasted to my back. My hair was yanked into a ratty knot. Sand lined my scalp and undies. Nevertheless, I was humming. Al Yankovic, “White & Nerdy.” What can I say? I’d watched a YouTube video and the tune lodged in my head.

Wind buffeted my Mazda as I merged onto southbound I-85. Slightly uneasy, I glanced at the sky, then thumbed on NPR.

Terry Gross was finishing an interview with W. S. Merwin, the U.S. poet laureate. Both were indifferent to the conditions outside my car.

Fair enough. The show was produced in Philadelphia, five hundred miles north of Dixie.

Terry launched into a teaser about an upcoming guest. I never caught the name.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

The National Weather Service has issued a severe-weather warning for parts of the North Carolina piedmont, including Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Anson, Stanly, and Union counties. Severe thunderstorms are expected to move through the area within the next hour. Rainfall of one to three inches is anticipated, creating the potential for flash flooding. Atmospheric conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. Stay tuned to this station for further updates.

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