Spider Bones: A Novel
Spider Bones benefited greatly from the help and support of colleagues, friends, and family.
First and foremost I must thank those at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL). Robert Mann, PhD, D-ABFA, Director, Forensic Science Academy, patiently answered thousands of questions, some by text from Southeast Asia. William R. Belcher, PhD, D-ABFA, Forensic Anthropologist/Supervisor, and Wayne Perry, Lt. Col., USAF, Director of Public Affairs, hosted me on a thorough and congenial refresher tour of the facility. Andretta Schellinger, Archivist, J-2 Section, clarified the process of record keeping. Audrey Meehan, DNA specialist, enlightened me on DNA analysis JPAC style. Thomas D. Holland, PhD, D-ABFA, Scientific Director of the CIL, was a good sport about my invasion of his turf, both professional and literary.
Equally invaluable was the help of Kanthi De Alwis, MD, former Chief Medical Examiner for the City and County of Honolulu. Pamela A. Cadiente, Investigator, provided details concerning the death investigation process in Hawaii.
Alain St-Marseille, Agent de liaison, Bureau du coroner, Module des Scènes de Crime S.Q., Division de l’Identité Judiciaire, Service de la Criminalistique; Mike Dulaney, Detective, Homicide Unit, Calgary Police Department; and Sergeant Harold (Chuck) Henson, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, helped with various policing and law enforcement queries.
Mike Warns answered some very odd questions. Frank and Julie Saul, Ken Kennedy, Tony Falsetti, and David Sweet gave input on gold inlays in teeth.
In the Belly of the Lizard, an unpublished manuscript by Miles Davis, provided insight into the United States involvement in the Vietnam war.
I appreciate the continued support of Chancellor Philip L. Dubois of the University of North Carolina–Charlotte.
I am grateful to my family for their patience and understanding. Extra credit to Paul Reichs for reading and commenting on the manuscript, and for sharing his experiences in Vietnam.
Deepest thanks to my agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, and to my virtuoso editors, Nan Graham and Susan Sandon. I also want to acknowledge all those who work so very hard on my behalf, including: Katherine Monaghan, Paul Whitlatch, Rex Bonomelli, Simon Littlewood, Gillian Holmes, Rob Waddington, Glenn O’Neill, Briton Schey, Margaret Riley, Tracy Fisher, Michelle Feehan, Cathryn Summerhayes, and Raffaella De Angelis. I am also indebted to the Canadian crew, especially to Kevin Hanson and Amy Cormier.
And, of course, I am grateful to my readers. Buckets of thanks for your e-mails, your visits to my Web site, and your presence at signings, author lunches, literary festivals, and other events. Most of all, thanks for reading my stories. I know your time is precious. I am honored that you choose to spend some of it with Tempe and me.
If I have forgotten to thank someone I am truly sorry. If this book contains errors they are my fault.
THE AIR SMELLED OF SUN-WARMED BARK AND APPLE BUDS RARING to blossom and get on with life. Overhead, a million baby leaves danced in the breeze.
Fields spread outward from the orchard in which I stood, their newly turned soil rich and black. The Adirondacks crawled the horizon, gaudy bronze and green in the glorious sunlight.
A day made of diamonds.
The words winged at me from a war drama I’d watched on the classic-film channel. Van Johnson? No matter. The phrase was perfect for the early-May afternoon.
I’m a Carolina girl, no fan of polar climes. Jonquils in February. Azaleas, dogwoods, Easter at the beach. Though I’ve worked years in the North, after each long, dark, tedious winter the beauty of Quebec spring still takes me by surprise.
The world was sparkling like a nine-carat rock.
A relentless buzzing dragged my gaze back to the corpse at my feet. According to SQ Agent André Bandau,