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"I think that murder mystery readers are definitely voyeurs. Why they're intrigued with murder and death is a tougher question. What's satisfying about the murder mystery is that usually it does resolve itself, and good wins over evil. What's appealing about the modern murder mystery is bringing science to bear on these questions, rather than the intuitive approach. We bring science to the question of 'whodunit'?"

--Author Kathy Reichs

Photograph by Catherine Sebastian

Like her character Temperance Brennan, Kathy Reichs is a Forensic Anthropologist. She divides her time between the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaire et de Médecine Légale, Province of Quebec. She is also a Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

"I tend to work more with the physical evidence. With the victims rather than the perpetrators," explains Reichs in an interview published on her website, "I'm trying to figure out what happened and how it happened. That's one of the things I try to bring out in my character. No matter what you're working on and how nasty it is, it's a human being. You're always going to be projecting what that human being was in life and what happened to them. Even when I did archaeology and I'd work on bones that were five, ten thousand years old, I was still wondering 'what did this person think the last day they were alive?'"

As a working forensic anthropologist, Kathy Reichs has plenty of material to bring to her successful series of crime fiction books. "I have my own anthropology lab in the larger medical legal lab in Montreal, and in that lab I have a warehouse filled with shelves, which are filled with boxes. Each of those boxes contains an unsolved case, many of which are unidentified victims. Those haunt me. Some bother me more than others - especially children who have never been identified."

"My kids have told me they knew when I'd been working on a child case, because I would be much more restrictive. You have to learn to strike a balance between work and home."

Kathy Reichs' crime fiction has become the foundation of a new dramatic crime series. You can see Tempe Brennan in Fox's Bones.


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Podcast: A Conversation with Kathy Reichs