Written in the Bone: A Profile on Forensic Anthropologist and Bestselling Author Kathy Reichs

Written in the Bone: A Profile on Forensic Anthropologist and Bestselling Author Kathy Reichs


"Kathy Reichs, a best-selling author and forensic anthropologist who works at the Quebec government's forensic science and medical laboratory, said the central forensic lab in Montreal was put on notice to expect multiple deaths from Lac-Megantic." - Catherine Solyom

On July 6th 2013, a freight train carrying crude oil derailed in downtown Lac Megantic. The issuing explosion all but leveled the town center, destroying over thirty buildings in the process. The death toll is currently estimated at forty-seven, with forty-two confirmed deaths, and five individuals still remaining unnacounted for. In the four months since the disaster, thirty-two of the victims have been identified by the central forensic lab in Montreal, and other such Quebec forensic labs. Identifying the remaining victims of the tragedy, however, might prove more ardous.

"Reichs said it would probably be a very difficult task to recover human remains from the debris, given the intensity and duration of the fire." - Catherine Solyom

As a forensic anthropologist, Dr. Kathy Reichs is tasked with the responsibility of identifying human remains that have, for lack of a better term, been stripped down to their bare essentials - their bones. By examining the skeletal remains, Reichs is able to not identify the victim - she is also able to determine cause and time of death, as well as gathering evidence from the remains. Dr. Kathy Reichs work as a forensic anthropologist is as crucial as it is diverse. In recent years, Reichs has assisted in exhuming genocide victims from a mass grave in Guatemala, and testified to the fact at a UN tribunal. Dr. Kathy Reichs has also helped identify fallen soldiers from World War II,  as well as victims from the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. What's more -Reichs is one of only eighty-two individuals to ever be certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

"I was a university professor, I could talk on and on and on. Give me a podium and you have to drag me off with a hook." - Kathy Reichs

In addition to her work as a forensic anthropologist, Dr. Kathy Reichs has also devoted her time to teaching others the various tools of her trade. In the United States, Reichs has not only taught FBI agents how to find and retrieve human remains, but she has also taught at Northern Illinois University, and the University of Pittsburgh. In Canada, Reichs has taught at two of Montreal's leading Universities; Concordia University and McGill University. Presently, Dr. Reichs splits her time working as a forensic anthropologist between consulting for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, America and the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale in Quebec, Canada. Despite her phenemonal work as a forensic anthropologist and teacher, Dr. Kathy Reichs still remains better known for her career as a best-selling New York Times murder mystery author.

"My first book was the most successful debut novel in the U.K. ever and every one of my books has reached number one in the U.K. Clearly the British know brilliance when they see it." - Kathy Reichs

Published in January 1997, Dr. Kathy Reichs' debut novel Deja Dead quickly climbed up the New York Times bestseller list, and ultimatly reached worldwide success. In addition, Deja Dead went on to win the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel later that year. As result of Deja Dead's overwhelming success, Reichs released a sequel in 1999. Death du Jour, like its predesessor, focused on the proffessional and romantic life of forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennnan. Based on her own experiences as a foresic anthropologist, the character of Dr. Temperance Brennan acts as a medium through which Dr. Kathy Reichs may relate to the reader her own thought process and experiences as she attempts to reconstruct and identify skeletal remains, as well as solve criminal cases.

"What gives my books authenticity is that I actually do what it is I'm writing about. I think the fact that I am in the autopsy room, I go to the crime scene and I do work in the lab gives my books this flavor that otherwise they wouldn't have." - Kathy Reichs.

 Since 1997, Dr. Kathy Reichs has went on to release twenty bestselling novels. Four of these novels are young-adult fictions, whose heroine is a niece of Dr. Temperance Brennan, and the remaining sixteen comprises the Temperance Brennan murder-mystery series. Culturally diverse, the Temperance Brennan series constrasts the different social and national constructs of North Carolina, America and Quebec, Canada - as the heroine, much like Dr. Kathy Reichs herself, travels back and forth between these two locations.  

In 2004, television producer/creator Hart Hanson, executive producer Barry Josephson, along with 20th Century Fox began work on an adaptation of Dr. Kathy Reichs Temperance Brennan book series. Starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, the pilot episode of Bones, aired on September 13th 2005. Since then, Bones has won several awards, and received numerous nominations, most prominent of which, was an Emmy Award nomination in 2009. In the production of Bones, Reichs has taken on numerous roles - producer, writer and even actor. In 2006, Dr. Kathy Reichs made a cameo appearance in the eleventh episode of the show's second season, Judas on a Pole. She is often consulted by Hart Hanson and co. on various aspects of the show, including - naturally, the forensics. Bones is currently airing its ninth season - and is expected to be renewed for a tenth season.


Works Cited

Solyom, Catherine. "Could be years before some victims of Lac-Megantic train explosion are identified, coroner's office warns." National Post. July 24th 2013. Web. November 7th 2013.

Reichs, Kathy. Brainy Quotes. n.d. Web. November 7th 2013.



Domner, Heather. "'Bones' Renewed for Season 9." Screen Rant. March 2013. Web. November 20th 2013.

Hoggard, Liz. "Face to Face with Death." The Observer. May 21 2006. Web. November 20th 2013.

Hickey, Kathleen. "Kathy Reichs - Body of Evidence." Quill & Quire. August 1997. Web. November 7th 2013.

"About Kathy." kathyreichs.com. n.d. Web. November 7th 2013.

"Bones." imbd.com. n.d. Web. November 7th 2013.

"Kathy Reichs" imbd.com. n.d. Web. November 7th 2013.

"Timeline:Lac Megantic Rail Disaster." July 2013. November 14th 2013.



Deja Dead

Kathy Reichs

Lac Megantic

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