Home>>read Spider Bones free online

Spider Bones

By:Kathy Reichs

Spider Bones
Author:Kathy Reichs

      ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Spider Bones benefited greatly from the help and support of colleagues, friends, and family.
First and foremost I must thank those at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL). Robert Mann, PhD, D-ABFA, Director, Forensic Science Academy, patiently answered thousands of questions, some by text from Southeast Asia. William R. Belcher, PhD, D-ABFA, Forensic Anthropologist/Supervisor, and Wayne Perry, Lt. Col., USAF, Director of Public Affairs, hosted me on a thorough and congenial refresher tour of the facility. Andretta Schellinger, Archivist, J-2 Section, clarified the process of record keeping. Audrey Meehan, DNA specialist, enlightened me on DNA analysis JPAC style. Thomas D. Holland, PhD, D-ABFA, Scientific Director of the CIL, was a good sport about my invasion of his turf, both professional and literary.
Equally invaluable was the help of Kanthi De Alwis, MD, former Chief Medical Examiner for the City and County of Honolulu. Pamela A. Cadiente, Investigator, provided details concerning the death investigation process in Hawaii.
Alain St-Marseille, Agent de liaison, Bureau du coroner, Module des Scènes de Crime S.Q., Division de l'Identité Judiciaire, Service de la Criminalistique; Mike Dulaney, Detective, Homicide Unit, Calgary Police Department; and Sergeant Harold (Chuck) Henson, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, helped with various policing and law enforcement queries.
Mike Warns answered some very odd questions. Frank and Julie Saul, Ken Kennedy, Tony Falsetti, and David Sweet gave input on gold inlays in teeth.
In the Belly of the Lizard, an unpublished manuscript by Miles Davis, provided insight into the United States involvement in the Vietnam war.
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. Extra credit to Paul Reichs for reading and commenting on the manuscript, and for sharing his experiences in Vietnam.
Deepest thanks to my agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, and to my virtuoso editors, Nan Graham and Susan Sandon. I also want to acknowledge all those who work so very hard on my behalf, including: Katherine Monaghan, Paul Whitlatch, Rex Bonomelli, Simon Littlewood, Gillian Holmes, Rob Waddington, Glenn O'Neill, Briton Schey, Margaret Riley, Tracy Fisher, Michelle Feehan, Cathryn Summerhayes, and Raffaella De Angelis. I am also indebted to the Canadian crew, especially to Kevin Hanson and Amy Cormier.
And, of course, I am grateful to my readers. Buckets of thanks for your e-mails, your visits to my Web site, and your presence at signings, author lunches, literary festivals, and other events. Most of all, thanks for reading my stories. I know your time is precious. I am honored that you choose to spend some of it with Tempe and me.
If I have forgotten to thank someone I am truly sorry. If this book contains errors they are my fault.

     
 

     
THE AIR SMELLED OF SUN-WARMED BARK AND APPLE BUDS RARING to blossom and get on with life. Overhead, a million baby leaves danced in the breeze.
Fields spread outward from the orchard in which I stood, their newly turned soil rich and black. The Adirondacks crawled the horizon, gaudy bronze and green in the glorious sunlight.
A day made of diamonds.
The words winged at me from a war drama I'd watched on the classic-film channel. Van Johnson? No matter. The phrase was perfect for the early-May afternoon.
I'm a Carolina girl, no fan of polar climes. Jonquils in February. Azaleas, dogwoods, Easter at the beach. Though I've worked years in the North, after each long, dark, tedious winter the beauty of Quebec spring still takes me by surprise.
The world was sparkling like a nine-carat rock.
A relentless buzzing dragged my gaze back to the corpse at my feet. According to SQ Agent André Bandau, now maintaining as much distance as possible, the body came ashore around noon.
News telegraphs quickly. Though it was now barely three, flies crawled and swarmed in a frenzy of feeding. Or breeding. I was never sure which.
To my right, a tech was taking pictures. To my left, another was running yellow crime-scene tape around the stretch of shoreline on which the body lay. The jackets of both said Service de l'identité judiciaire, Division des scènes de crime. Quebec's version of CSI.
Ryan sat in a squad car behind me, talking to a man in a trucker cap. Lieutenant-détective Andrew Ryan, Section des crimes contre la personne, Sûreté du Québec. Sounds fancy. It's not.
In la Belle Province, crime is handled by local forces in major cities, by the provincial police out in the boonies. Ryan is a homicide detective with the latter, the SQ.
The body was spotted in a pond near the town of Hemmingford, forty-five miles south of Montreal. Hemmingford. Boonies. SQ. You get it.
But why Ryan, a homicide dick working out of the SQ's Montreal unit?
Since the deceased was plastic-wrapped and wearing a rock for a flipper, the local SQ post suspected foul play. Thus the bounce to Ryan.
And to me. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist.
Working out of the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale in Montreal, I do the decomposed, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, and skeletal for the province, helping the coroner with identification, cause of death, and postmortem interval.
Immersion leaves a corpse in less than pristine condition, so when Ryan caught the call about a floater, he enlisted me.
Through the windshield I saw Ryan's passenger gesture with agitated hands. The man was probably fifty, with gray stubble and features that suggested a fondness for drink. Black and red letters on his cap declared I Love Canada. A maple leaf replaced the traditional heart icon.
Ryan nodded. Wrote something in what I knew was a small notebook.
Refocusing on the corpse, I continued jotting in my own spiral pad.
The body lay supine, encased in clear plastic, with only the left lower leg outside and exposed. Duct tape sealed the plastic under the chin and around the left calf.
The exposed left foot wore a heavy biker boot. Above its rim, a two-inch strip of flesh was the color of oatmeal.
A length of yellow polypropylene rope looped the boot roughly halfway up its laces. The rope's other end was attached to a rock via an elaborate network of knots.
The victim's head was wrapped separately, in what looked like a plastic grocery bag. A black tube protruded from one side of the bag, held in place with more duct tape. The whole arrangement was secured by tape circling the neck and the tube's point of exit.
What the flip?
When I dropped to a squat, the whining went mongo. Shiny green missiles bounced off my face and hair.
Up close, the smell of putrefaction was unmistakable. That was wrong, given the vic's packaging.
Waving off Diptera, I repositioned for a better view of the body's far side.
A dark mass pulsated in what I calculated was the right-thigh region. I shooed the swarm with one gloved hand.
And felt a wave of irritation.
The right lower was visible through a fresh cut in the plastic. Flies elbowed for position on the wrist and moved upward out of sight.
Sonofabitch.
Suppressing my annoyance, I shifted to the head.
Algae spread among the folds and creases of the bag covering the top and back of the skull. More slimed one side of the odd little tube.
I could discern murky features beneath the translucent shroud. A chin. The rim of an orbit. A nose, bent to one side. Bloating and discoloration suggested that visual identification would not be an option.
Rising, I swept my gaze toward the pond.
Nosed to the shore was a tiny aluminum skiff with a three-horsepower outboard engine. On the floor in back were a beer cooler, a tackle box, and a fishing rod.
Beside the skiff was a red canoe, beached and lying on its starboard side. Navigator was lettered in white below the port gunwale.
Polypropylene rope ran from a knot on the canoe's midship thwart to a rock on the ground. I noted that the knots on the rock resembled the one securing the victim's ankle weight.
Inside the canoe, a paddle lay lengthwise against the starboard hull. A canvas duffel was wedged below the stern seat. A knife and a roll of duct tape were snugged beside the duffel.
An engine hum joined the buzz of flies and the bustle and click of techs moving around me. I ignored it.
Five yards up the shoreline, a rusted red moped sat beneath a precociously flowering tree. The license plate was unreadable from where I stood. At least with my eyes.
Dual rearview mirrors. Kickstand. Raised trunk behind the seat. The thing reminded me of my freshman undergrad wheels. I'd loved that scooter.
Walking the area between the skiff and the moped, I saw a set of tire treads consistent with the pickup parked by the road, and one tread line consistent with the moped itself. No foot or boot prints. No cigarette butts, aluminum cans, condoms, or candy wrappers. No litter of any kind.
Moving back along the water, I continued recording observations. The engine sounds grew louder.
Mud-rimmed pond, shallow, no tides or chop. Apple trees within five feet of the bank. Ten yards to a gravel road accessing Highway 219.
Tires crunched. The engine sounds cut out. Car doors opened, slammed. Male voices spoke French.
Satisfied I'd learn nothing further from the scene, and wanting a word with the industrious Agent Bandau, I turned and walked toward the vehicles lining the road.
A black van had joined Ryan's Jeep, the blue crime-scene truck, the fisherman's pickup, and Bandau's SQ cruiser. Yellow letters on the van said Bureau du coroner.
I recognized the van's driver, an autopsy tech named Gilles Pomerleau. Riding shotgun was my new assistant, Roch Lauzon.

Loading...

Recommend