Kathy Reichs

Devil Bones

Book 11 in the Temperance Brennan series

Dedicated to

Police Officer Sean Clark

November 22, 1972-April 1, 2007


Police Officer Jeff Shelton

September 9, 1971-April 1, 2007

And to all who have died protecting the citizens of

Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina

Sergeant Anthony Scott Futrell July 17, 2002

Police Officer John Thomas Burnette October 5, 1993

Police Officer Anthony A. Nobles October 5, 1993

Patrol Officer Eugene A. Griffin November 22, 1991

Police Officer Milus Terry Lyles August 6, 1990

Police Officer Robert Louis Smith January 15, 1987

Patrol Officer Timothy Wayne Whittington July 16, 1985

Patrol Officer Ernest Coleman July 1, 1982

Patrol Officer Edmond N. Cannon November 23, 1981

Officer Ronnie E. McGraw October 18, 1970

Sergeant Lewis Edward Robinson, Sr. May 4, 1970

Police Officer Johnny Reed Annas May 21, 1960

Detective Charlie Herbert Baker April 12, 1941

Officer Rufus L. Biggers February 12, 1937

Officer Charles P. Nichols April 17, 1936

Patrol Officer Benjamin H. Frye June 9, 1930

Detective Thomas H. Jenkins October 21, 1929

Officer William Rogers August 30, 1929

Detective Harvey Edgar Correll January 22, 1929

Patrol Officer Robert M. Reid January 1, 1927

Rural Police Officer John Franklin Fesperman February 16, 1924

Officer John Robert Estridge March 29, 1913

Rural Police Officer Sampson E. Cole January 1, 1905

Officer James H. Brown August 2, 1904

Patrol Officer James Moran April 4, 1892


MY NAME IS TEMPERANCE DEASSEE BRENNAN. I’M FIVE-FIVE, feisty, and forty-plus. Multidegreed. Overworked. Underpaid.


Slashing lines through that bit of literary inspiration, I penned another opening.

I’m a forensic anthropologist. I know death. Now it stalks me. This is my story.

Merciful God. Jack Webb and Dragnet reincarnate.

More slashes.

I glanced at the clock. Two thirty-five.

Abandoning the incipient autobiography, I began to doodle. Circles inside circles. The clock face. The conference room. The UNCC campus. Charlotte. North Carolina. North America. Earth. The Milky Way.

Around me, my colleagues argued minutiae with all the passion of religious zealots. The current debate concerned wording within a subsection of the departmental self-study. The room was stifling, the topic poke-me- in-the-eye dull. We’d been in session for over two hours, and time was not flying.

I added spiral arms to the outermost of my concentric circles. Began filling spaces with dots. Four hundred billion stars in the galaxy. I wished I could put my chair into hyperdrive to any one of them.

Anthropology is a broad discipline, comprised of linked subspecialties. Physical. Cultural. Archaeological. Linguistic. Our department has the full quartet. Members of each group were feeling a need to have their say.

George Petrella is a linguist who researches myth as a narrative of individual and collective identity. Occasionally he says something I understand.

At the moment, Petrella was objecting to the wording “reducible to” four distinct fields. He was proposing substitution of the phrase “divisible into.”

Cheresa Bickham, a Southwestern archaeologist, and Jennifer Roberts, a specialist in cross-cultural belief systems, were holding firm for “reducible to.”

Tiring of my galactic pointillism, and not able to reduce or divide my ennui into any matters of interest, I switched to calligraphy.

Temperance. The trait of avoiding excess.

Double order, please. Side of restraint. Hold the ego.

Time check.

Two fifty-eight.

The verbiage flowed on.

At 3:10 a vote was taken. “Divisible into” carried the day.

Evander Doe, department chair for over a decade, was presiding. Though roughly my age, Doe looks like someone out of a Grant Wood painting. Bald. Owlish wire-rims. Pachyderm ears.

Most who know Doe consider him dour. Not me. I’ve seen the man smile at least two or three times.

Having put “divisible into” behind him, Doe proceeded to the next burning issue. I halted my swirly lettering to listen.

Should the department’s mission statement stress historical ties to the humanities and critical theory, or should it emphasize the emerging role of the natural sciences and empirical observation?

My aborted autobiography had been smack on. I would die of boredom before this meeting adjourned.

Sudden mental image. The infamous sensory deprivation experiments of the 1950s. I pictured volunteers wearing opaque goggles and padded hand muffs, lying on cots in white-noise chambers.

I listed their symptoms and compared them to my present state.

Anxiety. Depression. Antisocial behavior. Hallucination.

I crossed out the fourth item. Though stressed and irritable, I wasn’t hallucinating. Yet. Not that I’d mind. A vivid vision would have provided diversion.

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