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Bookends: Kids Pursue a Cold Case Murder in a Dogged Manner August 2, 2012

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Kids Pursue a Cold Case Murder in a Dogged Manner
By Dan Davidson
May 23, 2012
– 695 words –

Virals
By Kathy Reichs
Razorbill (Penguin)
456 pages
$11.50

Kathy Reichs is a talented writer and clever woman as well as being a top rated forensic anthropologist. Who else would have thought to avoid ruining her bestselling series of mysteries about Temperance Brennan by creating the television series “Bones”. This is clearly set in some alternate universe where Brennan is the real person (somewhat socially awkward, but brilliant) whose side project is writing a series of best selling mysteries about a character named Kathy Reichs?
She has now decided to expand her reach into the young adult market, with a new series of books based on the adventures of Temperance’s niece, Victoria, or Tory, as she is known to her friends. I don’t think there’s any question that the Temperance in question here is the Tempe from the books, not the Bones from the TV show.
Tory lives with her Father, Kit, in a somewhat troubled family pairing. She didn’t know he existed until her mother died some six months before this novel opens. Tory is 14 and inheriting a child at that age is a shock for anyone. Kit is a marine biologist and researcher who lives on an island off the coast of Charleston, the city where Tempe works when she’s not in Montreal. She doesn’t actually appear in this book, except through the agency of having inspired her niece to have an interest in forensics.
Tory’s companions are the three boys whose families also live on the island. The four of them are odd men out at the posh school they attend on the mainland. They are also odd in that they are all science geeks of a sort. Her chums are Ben, who serves as the muscle of this Scooby Gang; Shelton, the gadget guru; and Hiram, the overweight comical sidekick. If I had a problem with the book it was that these three were a little too one-note as characters and it took me some time to tell them apart.
The four like to explore and go places they have no business being. One of these little expeditions brings them into contact with part of a military dog tag. Trying to find out more about it leads them to discover a murder that has been suppressed since the 1960s, but before they find the body they discover that one of the scientists at Loggerheads is conducting what can only be illicit experiments on the puppy offspring of the wolf dog pack on the island.
They free Coop, as they have named him earlier on, only to discover that whatever it was had been done to him was, well, contagious. They experience varying degrees of illness over about a week and incidents they call “flares”, when their senses seem to go hyperactive and they have surges of both speed and strength.
In the end they conclude that they have been infected with the mutated parvovirus the doctor was working on, and it has gifted them with somewhat erratic wolf-like abilities. They’re not going to shape shift, because this is a science based, rather than magic based, phenomenon, but they have powers, not the least of which is the ability to communicate mind to mind, not only with each other but also with the wolf dog puppy.
They are now more than just friends. In their own term, they are a pack. They are Virals.
Solving a fifty-year-old cold case is no mean feat, even for a wolf-powered foursome, and much of the skulking about is only mildly aided by their new, and somewhat undependable, abilities. They still have to figure out motive, means and opportunity, and overcome some very determined adversaries in order to win out in the end. They do, of course, but watching them get their answers, in a story that is told mainly through Tory’s first person narrative, is an interesting journey.
This is aimed at young adult readers, for certain, but it was still a respectable story, and one I found quite enjoyable.

– 30 –

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