August 20, 2001 12:00 PM

by Kathy Reichs

Beach book of the week

When forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan investigates a plane crash site in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains, there are all sorts of sharp-fanged critters skulking around the debris, including coyotes, which gnaw on a human foot that doesn’t belong to any of the crash victims, and politicians, who scheme to get Brennan taken off the case.

Faster than you can say abra cadaver, Brennan outflanks the honchos and dives into the gut-churning details of victim identification. The author is a forensic anthropologist, and these parts aren’t lunch-hour reading, unless you’re Hannibal Lecter. As for the intact bodies that attract Brennan’s gaze, there’s her skirt-chasing (but also pet-sitting) estranged husband from three previous mysteries in the series, plus a handsome Canadian detective. They join colorful bit players such as the snake-handling backwoods preacher who gives the stranded Brennan a ride—and a clue to why the state’s power brokers are burying secrets from the past. (Scribner, $25)

Bottom Line: Buckle up and take this Voyage

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