Long term followers of Pop Mythology know that we are huge fans of Kathy Reichs and her fictional alter ego Temperance Brennan of the Bones novels. A forensic anthropologist, Brennan is one of the most fascinating and well-drawn characters in contemporary crime fiction, and the parallels between Reichs professional non-literary career and Brennan’s add to her depth and authenticity. But after twenty years, Reichs is ready to take on something new in Two Nights, namely a new protagonist.
Sunday Night (yes, that’s her name) is ex-miltary, ex-cop, and a bundle of childhood trauma seeking to find a positive outlet (and not always succeeding). The first question the reader may have, is, “Will I like her as much as Tempe Brennan?” After reading the first book, I cannot answer this question completely; I can only say that I want to get to know her better, and that certainly counts for a lot. Those who binge-read the Bones books may not realize or remember how long it took for us to really get to know Brennan. She was busy in the books and there was little time for socializing – long, artificially contrived segments of flashbacks and reminiscences are not Reichs’s style. So, it was over the course of many books that we gradually learned about her, her ex-husband and daughter, her relationship and its development with Andrew Ryan, her mother, etc.
I suspect, after the first book, that we will slowly get to know Sunnie better in a similar fashion, and I enjoy this slower, more natural pace of getting to know a character. It can feel obtrusive and somewhat confusing to be abruptly dropped into a character’s innermost thoughts, even those of a first-person narrator, without proper context. Reichs’s narration always flows cohesively from the action and the result over time is a greater understanding and bond between the reader and her protagonist.
But, new cast of characters aside, the action and story are pure, enthralling Reichs. Domestic terrorism is the theme, and I really don’t want to tell you much more than that, as the ride is an electrifying one and I don’t want to spoil a minute of it. If you take this one on vacation with you, make sure you bring a second book as you will race through this one in no time at all. Oh, and Reichs’s marvelous wit is fully intact and engaged, with a slightly sharper edge as befits Sunday Nights’ personality.
If I missed one thing in this book, however, it would be the level of science in the Bones novels. For me, this always set Reichs’s crime series apart from all the others and kept me coming back long after I had stopped reading many of her contemporaries. For now, though, I am content to get to know this new character and who knows what tricks she or her twin brother (yes, there are indeed TWO Nights, as per the book’s title) have up their sleeves!