Cover image for Fatal voyage
Title:
Fatal voyage
Author:
Reichs, Kathleen J. (Kathleen Joan)
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, 2001.
Physical Description:
363 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780684859729
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

KATHY REICHS, whom Ann Rule calls "in a class by herself," burst onto the publishing scene with Déjà Dead, the international bestseller of which P. D. James wrote: "The strength of her novel is in the insight it gives into the scientific procedures of a murder investigation." Now, with her dazzling new forensic thriller Fatal Voyage, Reichs applies her cutting-edge scientific know-how to the probe of a heartbreaking commercial airliner crash. Temperance Brennan hears the news on her car radio. An Air TransSouth flight has gone down in the mountains of western North Carolina, taking with it eighty-eight passengers and crew. As a forensic anthropologist and a member of the regional DMORT team, Tempe rushes to the scene to assist in body recovery and identification. Tempe has seen death many times, working with the medical examiners in North Carolina and Montreal, but never has tragedy struck with such devastation. She finds a field of carnage: torsos in trees, limbs strewn among bursting suitcases and smoldering debris. Many of the dead are members of a university soccer team. Is Tempe's daughter, Katy, among them? Frantic with worry, Tempe joins colleagues from the FBI, the NTSB, and other agencies to search for explanations. Was the plane brought down by a bomb, an insurance plot, a political assassination, or simple mechanical failure? And what about the prisoner on the plane who was being extradited to Canada? Did someone want him silenced forever? Even more puzzling for Tempe is a disembodied foot found near the debris field. Tempe's microscopic analysis suggests it could not have belonged to any passenger. Whose foot is it, and where is the rest of the body? And what about the disturbing evidence Tempe discovers in the soil outside a remote mountain enclave? What secrets lie hidden there, and why are certain people eager to stop Tempe's investigation? Is she learning too much? Coming too close? With help from Montreal detective Andrew Ryan, who has his own sad reason for being at the crash, and from a very special dog named Boyd, Tempe calls upon deep reserves of courage and upon her forensic skill to uncover a shocking, multilayered tale of deceit and depravity. Written with the riveting authenticity that only world-class forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs can provide, Fatal Voyage pairs witty, elegant prose with pulse-pounding storytelling in a tour de force worthy of crime writing's new superstar.


Author Notes

Kathy Reichs was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 7, 1948. She received a BA in anthropology from American University in 1971, a MA in physical anthropology from Northwestern University in 1972, and a Ph.D. in physical anthropology from Northwestern University in 1975.

She works as a forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale in Quebec. She has taught at Northern Illinois University, University of Pittsburgh, Concordia University, McGill University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her work as a forensic anthropologist is internationally recognized; she has traveled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, helped in an exhumation in the area of the highlands of southwest Guatemala, and done forensic work at Ground Zero in New York.

In addition to her published academic papers and books, Reichs has written numerous works of crime fiction including Temperance Brennan series. Déjà Dead won the 1997 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. She is a producer on the Fox television series Bones, which is loosely based on her own forensic career and writing. In 2015, she won the Silver Bullet Literary Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Initially, it appears the only tragic journey traced in Reichs' fourth Tempe Brennan tale is the devastating crash, in western North Carolina's forested hills, of a regional airliner full of college soccer players and their fans. Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who (like Reichs) works in both North Carolina and Quebec, joins with federal and state postcrash investigators, matching horrific body fragments to TransSouth Air Flight 228's passengers. Much to Brennan's surprise, Montreal cop Andrew Brennan shows up; his partner, Jean Bertrand, was booked on the flight, escorting an extradited prisoner. But Brennan encounters a forensic inventory problem: the foot she rescued from a pack of coyotes doesn't match anyone on the plane. When Brennan tries to identify its owner, she's smeared by a politician desperate to preserve the secrets of a group of power brokers who have gathered for years at a nearby hunting lodge. To save her reputation (and her life), Brennan must find the source of the telltale foot. A complicated, involving mystery. --Mary Carroll


Publisher's Weekly Review

Called in to investigate a horrific North Carolina airplane crash, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (Tempe to her friends) finds that the bodies of the 88 young people on board have become inexplicably mixed up with evidence of an older crime and gets fired. It turns out a local politician has a vested interest to protect. Although Tempe deals with the details of death every working day, neither she nor her creator, real-life forensic scientist and university professor Kathy Reichs (Deadly Decisions, etc.) ever exploit those details for morbidity or melodrama. That restraint, rendered superbly by understated reader Borowitz and combined with a riveting plot, makes for a terrific audio package exciting and intelligent entertainment. Borowitz is perfectly cast as the 50-ish Brennan: wise, self-deprecating and funny. Simultaneous release with Scribner hardcover (Forecasts, May 21). (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Reichs is at the top of her game with her fourth forensic thriller (after Deadly Decisions) as once again Dr. Tempe Brennan must "tease posthumous tales from bones," utilizing all of her skills as a forensic anthropologist to put the dead to rest. Tempe is called to the Great Smoky Mountains, scene of the crash of TransSouth Air flight 228 where 88 souls suffered gruesome deaths. As the medical teams work to reassemble and identify bodies, Tempe makes a disturbing discovery a foot that doesn't belong to any of the victims. While investigating the foot's origins, Tempe stumbles on a mountain cabin and is immediately banned from the recovery operations, accused of malfeasance. Something sinister is going on, and Tempe must unravel the mystery to save her reputation. What she discovers is shocking. Reichs once again proves that she is master of the genre; her science is impeccable, her characters are believably complex, and her plotting and pacing are nearly flawless. Often compared to Patricia Cornwell, Reichs is raising the bar. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/01; also available as an e-book.] Rebecca House Stank-owski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Fatal Voyage 1 I STARED AT THE WOMAN FLYING THROUGH THE TREES. Her head was forward, chin raised, arms flung backward like the tiny chrome goddess on the hood of a Rolls-Royce. But the tree lady was naked, and her body ended at the waist. Blood-coated leaves and branches imprisoned her lifeless torso. Lowering my eyes, I looked around. Except for the narrow gravel road on which I was parked, there was nothing but dense forest. The trees were mostly pine, the few hardwoods like wreaths marking the death of summer, their foliage every shade of red, orange, and yellow. Though it was hot in Charlotte, at this elevation the early October weather was pleasant. But it would soon grow cool. I took a windbreaker from the backseat, stood still, and listened. Birdsong. Wind. The scurrying of a small animal. Then, in the distance, one man calling to another. A muffled response. Tying the jacket around my waist, I locked the car and set off toward the voices, my feet swishing through dead leaves and pine needles. Ten yards into the woods I passed a seated figure leaning against a mossy stone, knees flexed to his chest, laptop computer at his side. He was missing both arms, and a small china pitcher protruded from his left temple. On the computer lay a face, teeth laced with orthodontic wiring, one brow pierced by a delicate gold ring. The eyes were open, the pupils dilated, giving the face an expression of alarm. I felt a tremor beneath my tongue, and quickly moved on. Within yards I saw a leg, the foot still bound in its hiking boot. The limb had been torn off at the hip, and I wondered if it belonged to the Rolls-Royce torso. Beyond the leg, two men rested side by side, seat belts fastened, necks mushrooming into red blossoms. One man sat with legs crossed, as if reading a magazine. I picked my way deeper into the forest, now and then hearing disconnected shouts, carried to me at the wind's whim. Brushing back branches and climbing over rocks and fallen logs, I continued on. Luggage and pieces of metal lay among the trees. Most suitcases had burst, spewing their contents in random patterns. Clothing, curling irons, and electric shavers were jumbled with containers of hand lotion, shampoo, aftershave, and perfume. One small carry-on had disgorged hundreds of pilfered hotel toiletries. The smell of drugstore products and airplane fuel mingled with the scent of pine and mountain air. And from far off, a hint of smoke. I was moving through a steep-walled gully whose thick canopy allowed only mottled sunlight to reach the ground. It was cool in the shadows, but sweat dampened my hairline and glued my clothing to my skin. I caught my foot on a backpack and went hurtling forward, tearing my sleeve on a jagged bough truncated by falling debris. I lay a moment, hands trembling, breath coming in ragged gulps. Though I'd trained myself to hide emotion, I could feel despair rising in me. So much death. Dear God, how many would there be? Closing my eyes, I centered myself mentally, then pushed to my feet. Aeons later, I stepped over a rotting log, circled a stand of rhododendron, and, seeming no closer to the distant voices, stopped to get my bearings. The muted wail of a siren told me the rescue operation was gathering somewhere over a ridge to the east. Way to get directions, Brennan. But there hadn't been time to ask questions. First responders to airline crashes or other disasters are usually well intentioned, but woefully ill-prepared to deal with mass fatalities. I'd been on my way from Charlotte to Knoxville, nearing the state line, when I'd been asked to get to the scene as quickly as possible. Doubling back on I-40, I'd cut south toward Waynesville, then west through Bryson City, a North Carolina hamlet approximately 175 miles west of Charlotte, 50 miles east of Tennessee, and 50 miles north of Georgia. I'd followed county blacktop to the point where state maintenance ended, then proceeded on gravel to a Forest Service road that snaked up the mountain. Though the instructions I'd been given had been accurate, I suspected there was a better route, perhaps a small logging trail that allowed a closer approach to the adjacent valley. I debated returning to the car, decided to press on. Perhaps those already at the site had trekked overland, as I was doing. The Forest Service road had looked like it was going nowhere beyond where I'd left the car. After an exhausting uphill scramble, I grabbed the trunk of a Douglas fir, planted one foot, and heaved myself onto a ridge. Straightening, I stared into the button eyes of Raggedy Ann. The doll was dangling upside down, her dress entangled in the fir's lower branches. An image of my daughter's Raggedy flashed to mind, and I reached out. Stop! I lowered my arm, knowing that every item must be mapped and recorded before removal. Only then could someone claim the sad memento. From my position on the ridge I had a clear view of what was probably the main crash site. I could see an engine, half buried in dirt and debris, and what looked like pieces of wing flap. A portion of fuselage lay with the bottom peeled back, like a diagram in an instructional manual for model planes. Through the windows I could see seats, some occupied, most empty. Wreckage and body parts covered the landscape like refuse discarded at a dump. From where I stood, the skin-covered body portions looked starkly pale against the backdrop of forest floor, viscera, and airplane parts. Articles dangled from trees or lay snarled in the leaves and branches. Fabric. Wiring. Sheet metal. Insulation. Molded plastic. The locals had arrived and were securing the site and checking for survivors. Figures searched among the trees, others stretched tape around the perimeter of the debris field. They wore yellow jackets with Swain County Sheriff's Department printed on the back. Still others just wandered or stood in clumps, smoking, talking, or staring aimlessly. Way off through the trees I noticed the flashing of red, blue, and yellow lights, marking the location of the access route I'd failed to find. In my mind I saw the police cruisers, fire engines, rescue trucks, ambulances, and vehicles of citizen volunteers that would clog that road by tomorrow morning. The wind shifted and the smell of smoke grew stronger. I turned and saw a thin, black plume curling upward just beyond the next ridge. My stomach tightened, for I was close enough now to detect another odor mingling with the sharp, acrid scent. Being a forensic anthropologist, it is my job to investigate violent death. I have examined hundreds of fire victims for coroners and medical examiners, and know the smell of charred flesh. One gorge over, people were burning. I swallowed hard and refocused on the rescue operation. Some who had been inactive were now moving across the site. I watched a sheriff's deputy bend and inspect debris at his feet. He straightened, and an object flashed in his left hand. Another deputy had begun stacking debris. "Shit!" I started picking my way downward, clinging to underbrush and zigzagging between trees and boulders to control my balance. The gradient was steep, and a stumble could turn into a headlong plunge. Ten yards from the bottom I stepped on a sheet of metal that slid and sent me into the air like a snowboarder on a major wipeout. I landed hard and began to half roll, half slide down the slope, bringing with me an avalanche of pebbles, branches, leaves, and pinecones. To stop my fall, I grabbed for a handhold, skinning my palms and tearing my nails before my left hand struck something solid and my fingers closed around it. My wrist jerked painfully as it took the weight of my body, breaking my downward momentum. I hung there a moment, then rolled onto my side, pulled with both hands, and scooched myself to a sitting position. Never easing my grasp, I looked up. The object I clutched was a long metal bar, angling skyward from a rock at my hip to a truncated tree a yard upslope. I planted my feet, tested for traction, and worked my way to a standing position. Wiping bleeding hands on my pants, I retied my jacket and continued downward to level ground. At the bottom, I quickened my pace. Though my terra felt far from firma, at least gravity was now on my side. At the cordoned-off area, I lifted the tape and ducked under. "Whoa, lady. Not so fast." I stopped and turned. The man who had spoken wore a Swain County Sheriff's Department jacket. "I'm with DMORT." "What the hell is DMORT?" Gruff. "Is the sheriff on site?" "Who's asking?" The deputy's face was rigid, his mouth compressed into a hard, tight line. An orange hunting cap rested low over his eyes. "Dr. Temperance Brennan." "We ain't gonna need no doctor here." "I'll be identifying the victims." "Got proof?" In mass disasters, each government agency has specific responsibilities. The Office of Emergency Preparedness, OEP, manages and directs the National Disaster Medical System, NDMS, which provides medical response and victim identification and mortuary services in the event of a mass fatality incident. To meet its mission, NDMS created the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, DMORT, and Disaster Medical Assistance Team, DMAT, systems. In officially declared disasters, DMAT looks after the needs of the living, while DMORT deals with the dead. I dug out and extended my NDMS identification. The deputy studied the card, then tipped his head in the direction of the fuselage. "Sheriff's with the fire chiefs." His voice cracked and he wiped a hand across his mouth. Then he dropped his eyes and walked away, embarrassed to have shown emotion. I was not surprised at the deputy's demeanor. The toughest and most capable of cops and rescue workers, no matter how extensive their training or experience, are never psychologically prepared for their first major. Majors. That's what the National Transportation Safety Board dubbed these crashes. I wasn't sure what was required to qualify as a major, but I'd worked several and knew one thing with certainty: Each was a horror. I was never prepared, either, and shared his anguish. I'd just learned not to show it. Threading toward the fuselage, I passed a deputy covering a body. "Take that off," I ordered. "What?" "Don't blanket them." "Who says?" I showed my ID again. "But they're lying in the open." His voice sounded flat, like a computer recording. "Everything must remain in place." "We've got to do something. It's getting dark. Bears are gonna scent on these"--he stumbled for a word--"people." I'd seen what Ursus could do to a corpse and sympathized with the man's concerns. Nevertheless, I had to stop him. "Everything must be photographed and recorded before it can be touched." He bunched the blanket with both hands, his face pinched with pain. I knew exactly what he was feeling. The need to do something, the uncertainty as to what. The sense of helplessness in the midst of overwhelming tragedy. "Please spread the word that everything has to stay put. Then search for survivors." "You've got to be kidding." His eyes swept the scene around us. "No one could survive this." "If anyone is alive they've got more to fear from bears than these folks do." I indicated the body at his feet. "And wolves," he added in a hollow voice. "What's the sheriff's name?" "Crowe." "Which one?" He glanced toward a group near the fuselage. "Tall one in the green jacket." I left him and hurried toward Crowe. The sheriff was examining a map with a half dozen volunteer firefighters whose gear suggested they'd come from several jurisdictions. Even with head bent, Crowe was the tallest in the group. Under the jacket his shoulders looked broad and hard, suggesting regular workouts. I hoped I would not find myself at cross purposes with Sheriff Mountain Macho. When I drew close the firemen stopped listening and looked in my direction. "Sheriff Crowe?" Crowe turned, and I realized that macho would not be an issue. Her cheeks were high and broad, her skin cinnamon. The hair escaping her flat-brimmed hat was frizzy and carrot red. But what held my attention were her eyes. The irises were the color of glass in old Coke bottles. Highlighted by orange lashes and brows, and set against the tawny skin, the pale green was extraordinary. I guessed her age at around forty. "And you are?" The voice was deep and gravelly, and suggested its owner wanted no nonsense. "Dr. Temperance Brennan." "And you have reason to be at this site?" "I'm with DMORT." Again the ID. She studied the card and handed it back. "I heard a crash bulletin while driving from Charlotte to Knoxville. When I phoned Earl Bliss, who's leader of the Region Four team, he asked me to divert over, see if you need anything." A bit more diplomatic than Earl's actual comments. For a moment the woman did not reply. Then she turned back to the firefighters, spoke a few words, and the men dispersed. Closing the gap between us, she held out her hand. The grip could injure. "Lucy Crowe." "Please call me Tempe." She spread her feet, crossed her arms, and regarded me with the Coke-bottle eyes. "I don't believe any of these poor souls will be needing medical attention." "I'm a forensic anthropologist, not a medical doctor. You've searched for survivors?" She nodded with a single upward jerk of her head, the type of gesture I'd seen in India. "I thought something like this would be the ME's baby." "It's everybody's baby. Is the NTSB here yet?" I knew the National Transportation Safety Board never took long to arrive. "They're coming. I've heard from every agency on the planet. NTSB, FBI, ATF, Red Cross, FAA, Forest Service, TVA, Department of the Interior. I wouldn't be surprised if the pope himself came riding over Wolf Knob there." "Interior and TVA?" "The feds own most of this county; about eighty-five percent as national forest, five percent as reservation." She extended a hand at shoulder level, moved it in a clockwise circle. "We're on what's called Big Laurel. Bryson City's off to the northwest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park's beyond that. The Cherokee Indian Reservation lies to the north, the Nantahala Game Land and National Forest to the south." I swallowed to relieve the pressure inside my ears. "What's the elevation here?" "We're at forty-two hundred feet." "I don't want to tell you how to do your job, Sheriff, but there are a few folks you might want to keep ou--" "The insurance man and the snake-bellied lawyer. Lucy Crowe may live on a mountain, but she's been off it once or twice." I didn't doubt that. I was also certain that no one gave lip to Lucy Crowe. "Probably good to keep the press out, too." "Probably." "You're right about the ME, Sheriff. He'll be here. But the North Carolina emergency plan calls for DMORT involvement for a major." I heard a muffled boom, followed by shouted orders. Crowe removed her hat and ran the back of her sleeve across her forehead. "How many fires are still burning?" "Four. We're getting them out, but it's dicey. The mountain's mighty dry this time of year." She tapped the hat against a thigh as muscular as her shoulders. "I'm sure your crews are doing their best. They've secured the area and they're dealing with the fires. If there are no survivors, there's nothing else to be done." "They're not really trained for this kind of thing." Over Crowe's shoulder an old man in a Cherokee Volunteer PD jacket poked through a pile of debris. I decided on tact. "I'm sure you've told your people that crash scenes must be treated like crime scenes. Nothing should be disturbed." She gave her peculiar down-up nod. "They're probably feeling frustrated, wanting to be useful but unsure what to do. A reminder never hurts." I indicated the poker. Crowe swore softly, then crossed to the volunteer, her strides powerful as an Olympic runner's. The man moved off, and in a moment the sheriff was back. "This is never easy," I said. "When the NTSB arrives they'll assume responsibility for the whole operation." "Yeah." At that moment Crowe's cell phone rang. I waited as she spoke. "Another precinct heard from," she said, hooking the handset to her belt. "Charles Hanover, CEO of Air TransSouth." Though I'd never flown it, I'd heard of the airline, a small, regional carrier connecting about a dozen cities in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee with Washington, D.C. "This is one of theirs?" "Flight 228 was late leaving Atlanta for Washington, D.C. Sat on the runway forty minutes, took off at twelve forty-five P.M. The plane was at about twenty-five thousand feet when it disappeared from radar at one oh seven. My office got the 911 call around two." "How many on board?" "The plane was a Fokker-100 carrying eighty-two passengers and six crew. But that's not the worst of it." Her next words foretold the horror of the coming days. Excerpted from Fatal Voyage: A Novel by Kathy Reichs All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.