The story starts when a body is found in a barrel of asphalt on a refuse dump next to the Charlotte racetrack. As soon as the discovery of the body is made public, possible identifications come from two sides.
A young man claims it might be the body of the boyfriend of his sister. Both his sister and the boyfriend disappeared without a trace 12 years ago, and the young man desperately wants answers.
Another possibility is a middle aged man who has recently been reported as missing in the area by his wife.
Dr. Tempe Brennan examines the body and although she can’t completely rule out either of the two suggested identifications, she can’t confirm them either. And before she can perform further examinations, the body has been claimed and destroyed by the FBI.
Frustrated and suspicious Brennan decides to dig deeper into the disappearance of the two youngsters but soon finds herself attracting the attention of right-wing extremists and an ex-cop with a dubious reputation.
While Charlotte is gearing up for the big races the mysteries only appear to be getting deeper, and Brennan can’t be sure who she can trust while at the same time she is being threatened by someone.
I always enjoy the Temperance Brennan mysteries. They come with enough scientific and specialist knowledge to make me feel as if I’m learning something, although the information never takes away from the tension and pace of the story.
Brennan makes a good and interesting leading character. She is an independent woman who knows what she wants but realistic enough to know that she can’t always get it, and sensible enough not to wallow in self-pity.
The books almost always come with some light relief from the action. In this story the smiles are provided by Summer, the soon to be wife of Brennan’s ex-husband who has problems getting her groom to participate in the wedding preparations.
But, most importantly of all, the mysteries in this series work. While they are deeply puzzling, the solutions always make sense and don’t make the reader feel as if they have been misdirected.
I really hope Reichs will continue writing Temperance Brennan books for many years to come.