Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
Back to “Bones” again. Kathy Reichs’s writing is really growing on me. She’s much better at this than most. I really appreciated the lack of a moment when Tempe had done something completely stupid (gone somewhere dangerous alone without letting anyone know), got herself into mortal peril, and needed Ryan to rescue her. She did get knocked down the stairs, but she was headed to a crime scene where she thought Ryan and others would be.
The plot had a few too many coincidences to be even remotely believable. She has this sudden memory of her childhood friend, these bones appear and there’s some outside chance it might be her friend. But surely not, right? How weird would that be? Yet somehow it does all actually connect? Life doesn’t really work that way… maybe by this point in the novels she had been affected by the TV plotting where all of the storylines intertwine in unbelievable ways?
I like that I actually learn stuff when I read these Reichs novels. This past summer, I was on Molokai and hiked down to Kalaupapa, formerly a “leper colony” and now a national park. (See my earlier post for more on this.) This book talks about a leper colony on an island in Acadia (lands in Northwest Canada). Some of what she writes I don’t quite believe… for example, Reichs (as Tempe) claims that things were much worse in Acadia than in Hawaii because there was nothing there (buildings, help, etc.)… well, there was “nothing there” at first on Molokai as well. People were dumped into the ocean and told to swim to shore. Their belongings were thrown overboard (and promptly stolen by whoever was already on the island). It was lawless and horrible. It wasn’t until some “kokua” refused to be separated from their loved ones and stayed, and the Catholic Church sent Father Damien, nuns, and others to help, that it became the place you can visit today with churches, buildings, and the remains of a hospital. It sounds like the colony in Acadia was easier to escape from, and was shut down pretty quickly in favor of a larzetto (lepers’ hospital) back in civilization.
I also had a vague notion from my college French classes that the Cajuns in New Orleans originated in Canada. But I didn’t know exactly where, or that the term “Cajun” came from “Acadian,” or that “Acadia” in Canada originally included Maine and one of my old favorite vacation spots, Acadia National Park. Nor did I know about the forced evacuation, a Canadian-style trail of tears, that led to there being Cajuns in New Orleans. If the racism and mistreatment is anything like what was portrayed in this book… well, it turns out Canadians! They’re just like us! (In all of the worst possible ways.)
I’ve got another Reichs book already checked out… why not finish up the series (at least what’s been written of it) on my slacker sabbatical? But there are two others to read before I get to that one, one kind of heavy but beautiful. The other is a kids’ book, because I think I’ll need a respite after the one I’m currently reading.