The Alibi: a Booked ezine

Issue 12, December 1, 2005
ISSN: 1715-9105

Watch BOOKED Investigates Kathy Reichs'
Cross Bones (all times EST):

  • Saturday, Dec. 3, 11PM on ACCESS Television
  • Tuesday, Dec. 6, 12:30PM and 8:30PM, and Wednesday, Dec. 7, 4AM on BookTelevision
  • Friday, Dec. 9, 9PM, and Saturday, Dec. 10, 1AM, on CLT
  • Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7AM, 6PM, and 11PM on CourtTV Canada
BOOKED Announcements

New WEBISODES added this week: Private Investigator Mike Straiton talks about the role of the PI in the modern world, and Criminal Intelligence Analyst Jonathan Alston talks about gender differences in violent crime.

Check out our latest PODCAST, an interview with crime author Peter Robinson. Robinson talks about crime fiction's place in literature, the challenges of writing a long-running series, and some of the themes he explores in his novels.

Writer Rap Sheet: Kathy Reichs
Author Photo: Kathy Reichs

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.

“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

Booked Television: December 3 - 14
Graphic: BOOKED investigates Kathy Reichs' Cross Bones

Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs ISBN:0743273990

BOOKED experts delve into biblical conspiracies and forensic anthropology in Dr. Temperance Brennan’s investigation into the death of an orthodox Jew.

In this episode, our host Fred Yackman is joined by:

Graphic: Booked Experts
Case Book: Michael Billinger, Physical Anthropologist

Michael Billinger is a physical anthropologist whose particular area of expertise is the human skull. “My research deals with variation in the size and shape of the skull particularly as it applies to ethnicity or what are traditionally called ‘racial categories’. There’s a huge range of variation that exists in the skull. The mid-face in particular is very diagnostic of the person’s ancestral background…I strongly believe that only in having expertise in the actual variation that exists in human skeletal populations can we be very successful in identifying individuals and how the individual fits into on of those specific ethnic populations.”

As a physical anthropologist working on a forensic case, Billinger would use his expertise with bones to be able to build a biological profile of a person, including age, sex, stature, and ethnicity. “I gather their osteobiographical information – osteobiography means the life history as it is recorded in bone.”

There are many different kinds of anthropologists – anthropology is broken into linguistics, cultural anthropology, archaeology, and physical anthropology. “In the Canadian context there are generally very few people who would consider themselves forensic anthropologists. They are physical anthropologists who do consulting work for forensic purposes. It’s a critical point to distinguish between the two.”

Like forensic odontology, there just isn’t the workload for physical anthropologists to work full time as forensic anthropologists. “It’s very fulfilling to take the skills gained through my education, through many years of research, and apply it to something that’s practical, that’s important to the community.”

Expert Photo: Michael Billinger

“An anthropologist has expertise in dealing with bone that even a pathologist does not have. A pathologist’s main role is determining the cause of death, and the anthropologist does not do that. But we can give a lot of information as to what might have been contributing factors to the cause of death, and we are huge contributors to the process of identifying remains. We work with other experts in forensic identification, such as forensic odontologists and DNA analysts.”

--Physical Anthropologist Michael Billinger

Last Words

Coming up on BOOKED Television:

BOOKED investigates Karin Fossum's He Who Fears the Wolf. Expert lineup for this show: Psychiatrist, Dr. Judy Ustina; Writer, Scot Morison; Book Reviewer, Paul Bergen; Homicide Detective, Cathy Oadken.
Check Broadcast Dates and Times

Look for the next Alibi – we’ll introduce you to Norwegian writer Karin Fossum and talk to Homicide Detective Cathy Oadken.

©MMV Reel Girls Media All Rights Reserved

The next book in our series is He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum. You can get the complete BOOKED reading list here.


For more information about the booklist or upcoming shows, visit


The views expressed in this ezine are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Reel Girls Media Inc.

Newsletter Admin Centre

Read Privacy Policy

Contact Us

Booked Interactive
Reel Girls Media
9860A - 33rd Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T6N 1C6
T: (780) 488-0440
Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm MST

If you enjoyed this ezine, please forward it to your friends!