Gone are those easy-riding days when motorcyclists' biggest worries were cops out to hassle them. Now they're into deadly turf wars over Montreal's lucrative drug trade, a battle that is decimating their ranks as Reichs's third thriller opens. And caught smack in the crossfire is her sharp-as-a-scalpel heroine, consulting forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, who can tease important clues from the tiniest bits of bone. At first Brennan's involvement is strictly professional. But as the action quickens, the stakes turn personal indeed, and solving the central mystery becomes a matter of life and death for Brennan and one of her nearest and dearest.
Not surprisingly, Reichs's strong suit once again is her expertise as a real-life forensic specialist. One wishes she had devoted the same attention to the plot—which relies too much on coincidence—and to weaning herself from stylistic crutches such as repetitious physical descriptions. (Enough already with the comparisons between Brennan's coiffure and the effects of a Weedwacker.) But despite such minor distractions, odds are you'll find yourself fascinated by the peek Reichs offers into the surprising stories told by dead men—and women. (Scribner, $25)
Bottom Line: High-octane forensic thriller hits a few potholes