TV Forensics: 'Bones' Makes It Look So Easy Kathy Reich's Spider Bones, the 13th installment in a series of forensic thrillers, explores the sometimes tangled webs of the criminal justice system. Reichs explains that forensic anthropology is a valuable tool for cracking cold cases, but that solving crimes is rarely as easy as it seems on screen.
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This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan solves slayings with science in a bestselling series of books where she splits time between Montreal and North Carolina and in the Fox television show "Bones," where she's based at the Jeffersonian Institute here in D.C.

She's also the alter-ego of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, author of the books and producer of the TV show, who provides her protagonist with a brilliant intellect and no social skills whatsoever.

(Soundbite of television program, "Bones")

Ms. EMILY DESCHANEL (Actor): (As Temperance Brennan) What is that?

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) It's a phalanx, finger bone. I figured she'd know that.

Ms. DESCHANEL: (As Brennan) Yeah, I'd figure any competent medical examiner would know not to compromise evidence. Is this Lysol I see?

Unidentified Man #1: (As character) We use it to decontaminate remains.

Ms. DESCHANEL: (As Brennan) Are you trying to break down the periostial surface of the bone, wreak havoc on the marrow? Did you even dilute this?

Mr. DAVID BOREANAZ (Actor): (As Special Agent Seeley Booth) Bones.

Ms. DESCHANEL: (As Brennan) What? You've removed particulates and trace elements that could potentially lead us to his killer. Is this your first day on the job?

CONAN: David Boreanaz is FBI Agent Seeley Booth, and Emily Deschanel is Temperance Brennan in "Bones." Kathy Reichs has also been critical of what she calls junk science that masquerades as slam-dunk evidence in real forensic labs and the so-called experts that can lead prosecutors and juries astray.

If you have questions for Kathy Reichs, and if you've worked with forensic evidence in the criminal justice system, we'd especially like to hear from you. Our phone number, 800-989-8255. Email us, You can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, a website that lets student bet on education futures: their own grades. But first, Kathy Reichs joins us from our bureau in New York. Her latest novel is "Spider Bones," and welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

Ms. KATHY REICHS (Author, "Spider Bones"): Well, thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

CONAN: And this book is a real page-turner. Every other minute, you're finding a new clue and leaving the reader hanging off a cliff. Is it really anywhere near that suspenseful on real cases?

Ms. REICHS: Well, we may take a few liberties when we're creating either the show or the books, but you want to keep your readers interested.

CONAN: Of course you do, and in this case, in a long series of books, sort of you've got your stock characters, including the cockatiel and the cat, but you've also got an interesting take. You take us away from Montreal and North Carolina and onto Hawaii.

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, each of my books draws on something I've been involved in, and this one draws on my years consulting to our central identification laboratory for the military out in Hawaii. It's called JPAC, the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Commission, and it's where all of our war dead are being repatriated and identified from primarily Southeast Asia but also Korea and World War II.

CONAN: And the kind of work that goes on there, it we learn a great deal about the way this operation goes about its business, which is utterly fascinating, field trips to places in New Guinea to find the remains of soldiers whose planes may have crashed 60 years ago, and as you suggest, obviously most of the effort focuses on Vietnam.

Ms. REICHS: Exactly. And there are often eyewitness accounts of remains that are found in Vietnam, for example. Those are followed up by JPAC personnel. And then teams go in, if it is a legitimate report, they go in and actually do the excavation, recover the remains. The remains then go back to the lab in Hawaii.

It is the largest employer of forensic anthropologists in the world. There's something like 30 full-time colleagues of mine who work there.

CONAN: And you were there as a consultant, or were you there full time?

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, every time a positive ID of a serviceperson is made, it has to be reviewed at multiple levels. And one of those reviews is by an external civilian consultant.

So I did that for several years. I would go through the whole dossier of the military history, the flight plan, the correspondence, the medical, the dental files, all of that, and make sure that the identification does seem legitimate.

CONAN: And in the process, can you tell us the difference between a forensic scientist and a forensic anthropologist?

Ms. REICHS: A forensic anthropologist is one species of forensic scientist. You might have a forensic pathologist or forensic chemist or forensic dentist. So we have specialty areas, just as you would have in medicine, for example.

CONAN: And a forensic anthropologist, the reconstruction from, well, the bones, that's where the series gets its title.

Ms. REICHS: Exactly. Usually, I work for - as do my colleagues, I work for coroners, medical examiners, law enforcement, maybe the military. We address usually one of two questions. One would be - who is it? We have a set of remains, we have no idea who it is. Or what happened to that person, what was the cause of death? And anything we get has to come from the bones.

And the type of bodies we look at are usually compromised. They're burned, mummified, mutilated, dismembered, decomposed, perhaps just bones. So you can't have a normal autopsy. You have to just look at the skeleton.

CONAN: But this kind of work could go on in terms of historical reconstructions, as well: How did these people who helped build the pyramids die, if you found their bones?

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, that's more the archeologists. One of the things that I do when remains come into the lab is determine, well, how long has that person been dead? Because if it is someone that's been dead usually more than 50 years, 100 years, then it will go to the archeologist.

Those kinds of cases are fun for me because I started out as an archeologist. My training, my Ph.D. is actually in bio-archeology.

CONAN: And what led you astray?

Ms. REICHS: Well, police started bringing me cases and for me, I found that more relevant, I guess. It was just compelling to me that I could help families get closure, and I could testify in court. If these were the victims of violence, I could, you know, make my contribution to putting an end at least to that individual's perpetrating any further violence.

CONAN: And then what led you to try to start your series of stories, to write fiction?

Ms. REICHS: Well, back in 1994, I had written a number of textbooks and journal articles, and I made full professor at the university. So I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted. I hadn't written fiction, well, except maybe for my CV, but...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. REICHS: And I had just finished working on a serial murder case in Montreal. So I had the opportunity, the freedom to try something new, and I had an idea for a story. So it all kind of fell together, and that's when I started "Deja Dead," which was the first book.

CONAN: And you had a protagonist, who - are we way off-base saying it's you?

Ms. REICHS: Well, you know, they say write about what you know about. So it just, to me, that was kind of a logical starting point to have a female forensic anthropologist.

CONAN: And there is one of there are love interests in her life but one regular one, and there are it's interesting. In the books, it is, the detective is Andrew Ryan. In the TV show, it's Seeley Booth. Are they the same character?

Ms. REICHS: Well, I think of book Tempe and TV Tempe. And book Tempe, I'm never quite specific, but we know she's not she's seen 40 come and go. So she's a bit older. She works in Montreal, and she works in the Carolinas, where and she's been married, and she's unmarried, and she has a daughter, et cetera, and she hangs out with Andrew Ryan.

Whereas in the TV show, she's 30-something, and she's a bit less sophisticated, less polished in her people skills. She's in Washington, D.C., which I find very appropriate because that's the first place I ever handled a skeleton was at the Smithsonian Institution.

So I think of TV Tempe as a prequel. It's an earlier point in book Tempe's life.

CONAN: I see. All right, but the character, her sidekick is the dialogue between them in the book and in the TV show is very similar.

Ms. REICHS: It is. One of the things that we felt very what I felt strongly about in starting the books is that they have some humor in them. And we felt very strongly about that in developing the show, as well.

And that's a real delicate balancing act because the topic is, it's a dark topic. It's violent death. And you have to have a certain amount of sensitivity about that.

But there is, when you're working in the autopsy room, when you're working with cops, there is a certain level of black humor that takes place. It's a tension-releaser, I suppose you could call it.

CONAN: Do you have to be more careful about that on the TV show?

Ms. REICHS: Well, I think you have to be sensitive to, you know, the fact that these are delicate issues. But I think somebody called us a crimedy, I think, a crime comedy. And we kind of started that genre, I guess. So I think our writers handle it very well.

CONAN: Kathy Reichs is with us, the mind behind "Bones," the Fox television series and the Temperance Brennan books, 800-989-8255. Email We'd especially like to hear from those of you who work with forensics and the criminal justice system. And we'll start with Joanne(ph), Joanne with us from Columbus.

JOANNE (Caller): Hi, I am a big fan. I read every one of the Temperance Brennan books. But I wondered why this particular young woman was cast as Temperance Brennan, since she wasn't anything at all, you know, like the character in the book.

I had pictured, like, an Angie Harmon type, and very disappointed in the character on TV.

Ms. REICHS: Well, I work as a producer on the show. I primarily work with the writers. So I have a lot of input, shall we saw, but not control. So I didn't have control over casting.

However, I am absolutely thrilled with the way Emily Deschanel plays Temperance Brennan. She plays a younger Temperance Brennan, obviously, but I think and also the chemistry between Emily and David Boreanaz is incredible. So I've been very pleased with how she developed the role.

JOANNE: Oh, okay. Well, my friends and I don't like this Temperance Brennan.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JOANNE: So we don't watch "Bones" because of that. I was so excited when "Bones" was coming on and just terribly disappointed because she's not Temperance Brennan.

Ms. REICHS: Well, give her another try.

JOANNE: No, I don't think so.

CONAN: Joanne, thanks very much for the call.

JOANNE: Thank you.

CONAN: Appreciate it. And I understand you took your hand to writing one of the shows.

Ms. REICHS: I did. I wrote my first screenplay this year, which is a very different experience from writing a book. You do it collectively. You do it in the writers' room, and you have to pitch your story, and it has to be approved at multiple levels. It has to be approved by the show runner and the studio and the network.

And then you break the story with the other writers, which is very different for me because I'm used to working alone, at home, sitting in front of my computer.

CONAN: And the show recently completed its 100th episode, which is a really important figure if you're in series television.

Ms. REICHS: It is. I mean, we're in we'll be starting our sixth season in September. And that's a long run for a show. When you develop your pilot, you think, well, you know, hopefully the pilot will get picked up. And then as your first season goes on, you think, well, hopefully we'll get picked up for a second season.

And at each one of those, you know, points, it's the odds of it actually being a success are so small. So we're very pleased.

CONAN: Well, the century marks suggests it will be a success in syndication, as well. We'll talk more with Kathy Reichs in just a moment. The new book is "Spider Bones."

If you have questions, if you've worked with forensic evidence in the criminal justice system, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Or drop us an email, Im Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

We're talking with Kath Reichs, the author of now 13 forensic thrillers. The latest is "Spider Bones." The books are also the inspiration for the Fox TV show "Bones." She's also a certified forensic anthropologist and takes issue with the state of affairs at many crime labs. More about that in a moment.

Her latest novel finds Temperance Brenna in Hawaii. Instead of relaxing on sandy beaches, she examines the remains of shark-attack victims and races to identify the remains of soldiers killed during Vietnam.

You can also learn something from the book, including what and what not to do at a crime scene. Read more about that in an excerpt from "Spider Bones" at Just click on TALK OF THE NATION.

If you have questions for Kathy Reichs, and if you've worked with forensic evidence in the criminal justice system, we'd especially like to hear from you, 800-989-8255. Email You can also join the conversation at our website. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And let's go to Roger, Roger with us from Milford in Michigan.

ROGER (Caller): Yes, unlike a lot of the TV shows, many forensic labs are, well, badly underfunded and have major backlogs of materials that need to be processed. I guess the best example would be the Detroit forensic lab and the disgraceful condition it was in. I'll take my answer off the air.

CONAN: Okay, Roger, thanks very much. And does he have a point?

Ms. REICHS: Well, I think he has a very good point. And I'm often asked if the technology that we use on the show, on "Bones," is real. And everything we use is real.

However, most of those things you're not going to see in any crime lab, and that's because you can't afford it. You can't afford to buy a three-dimensional holographic reconstruction machine, for example. Funding is a big issue.

The National Academy of Sciences released a report last February, which they'd taken a couple of years to study the state of forensics in the United States, and they pointed out some fairly serious issues, one of which I talk about in the previous book, "206 Bones" - that is, how do you determine who are legitimate experts, who is competent. Because there are a lot of people - now that forensics is hot, there are a lot of people suddenly jumping onboard ship, and how does a defense attorney or a prosecuting attorney or a judge or a local law enforcement personnel, how do they know who a real, legitimate expert is?

And one of the things the National Academy of Sciences recommended was mandatory board certification for all areas of forensic science. So I think that's something I've been speaking out about quite a bit.

CONAN: And there's a number of cases recently in one of the places you've worked, North Carolina, that illustrate the difficulties.

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, we've had some issues right now, currently at the SBI, the State Bureau of Investigation forensic lab in North Carolina. And that's the other issue that the National Academy of Sciences pointed to, is that every discipline, whether it's anthropology or chemistry or blood-spatter pattern analysis has to establish standards and standards that everyone adheres to, so that if you use a technique, there's replicability so that others can evaluate whether you adhered to those standards and did a good evaluation of the evidence.

CONAN: And these are some high-profile cases, including the case of Michael Jordan's father.

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, and there are going to be a lot of cases now that are going to have to be reviewed in light of the fact that there have been some issues, you know, with some of the scientists up in that lab.

CONAN: And as you talk about junk science, you've questioned some of the techniques that, well at least on television, have become staples - for example footprints.

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, one of the problems is that sometimes a technique may have some legitimacy to it, but it's pushed way beyond where it ought to be used. Looking at, you know, sock-clad feet that leave no, you know, you have fingerprints on your toes, just like you do on your fingers, they leave no prints, and you can't really get a measure of the size of the foot, and it doesn't leave any indication of the type of footwear that was worn, sometimes things like that can be pushed way beyond what you ought to be able to say from a footprint.

CONAN: And another specialty, if you will, that you've been questioning, skeptical of, is bite marks.

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, bite mark analysis, and I know the forensic dentists are very actively engaged in tightening up the standards for how do you evaluate whether it's a bite mark, whether it's a human bite mark, and then can you actually tie that bite mark to a particular victim.

This was a piece of evidence that was critical, for example, in the Ted Bundy case. There was a bite mark one of those victims. So they're undergoing a complete re-evaluation of that technique.

CONAN: As questions arise about forensic labs - and not just North Carolina, I didn't mean to pick them out, but there have been questions about Houston and Los Angeles and many other places around the country -the national standards, does there need to be a national academy?

Ms. REICHS: Well, the body that did the report is the National Association of Science. And one of the things that was called for in their report was the establishment of a national forensic science institute or academy or governing body of some kind.

I'm not sure that's necessary. There is something called ASCLD, which is the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, and they do certified individual crime labs.

There are also certifying boards for each of the forensic science specialties, such as the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. And to be a legitimate forensic anthropologist, you ought to be certified, which means you have to submit credentials, you have to sit for an examination, both written and practical, and you have to annually undergo continuing education and adhere to a set of ethical standards. And I think every one of the forensic sciences is now establishing those kinds of certification processes.

CONAN: Our guest is Kathy Reichs, the author of "Spider Bones," which was published yesterday. Congratulations on that.

Ms. REICHS: Thank you.

CONAN: Go to another caller. Let's go to Bernard(ph), Bernard with us from Cincinnati.

BERNARD (Caller): Yes, my question is I actually have two questions. I'm a big fan of "Bones" because of the scientific knowledge and the background (unintelligible) the show.

But I wanted to ask Kathy how much of her personality is in the show. And also, my second question is, she did mention that the equipment that is used cannot be purchased by (unintelligible) actual crime labs that work for the state and the government. Have they used their lab for an actual case, actual forensic case, or just for the TV shows?

CONAN: Huh. Okay.

Ms. REICHS: How much of my personality is in Temperance Brennan? TV Tempe, as I said, she's a little bit less sophisticated, I hope, than I am, a little bit less polished.

She has a very quirky sense of humor, but she does have a sense of humor. So I think she's quite a distinct personality. I don't think we're all that similar.

CONAN: Here's an email we got on this point from Lloyd(ph) in Winterville, North Carolina: Dr. Reich said the television Bones and the book Bones are the same person at different ages. But the television Bones has an Asperger's personality, and the book Bones has a noir personality.

Ms. REICHS: Well, she may be I don't think she's Asperger's. I think she has the set of characteristics she has because of certain traumas she experienced in her childhood.

And that back story, you can reconcile the way I do it with her being a younger version of Tempe in my books, except for the back story, and they've given her all of that family baggage that's different. It's distinct, and you know, viewers and readers just have to accept the fact that that's different.

But that's why she is the way she is. She tends to be a very guarded, from an emotional point of view, a very guarded person in television.

CONAN: And Bernard's other point - has the equipment in the Jefferson lab ever been used on a real case?

Ms. REICHS: Not really. We film mostly on the Fox lot in L.A. We have two huge - they're like airport-hangar-sized soundstages. And our sets were built specifically. We have permanent sets for the forensic lab and what we call the Ooky Room, which is where Hodgins works with the bugs and the slime and everything.

So it's really just staged. A lot of the stuff that we have sitting around is real stuff, but it's not actually a functional forensic lab.

CONAN: Bernard, thanks very much for the call. Let's go next to Stan(ph), and Stan's with us from Oahu.

STAN (Caller): Yes, Dr. Reich, you might not remember me. I met you in Charlotte. I am Dr. Stan Rice(ph) and I worked as a forensic hypnotist and expert witness on hypnosis forensics. I'm now currently living in Oahu, have been here for about 10 years.

My question to you concerns the bones that are very frequently unearthed in Hawaii because of all of the projects that they have, the construction projects and now projected rail project. And what happens is when they unearth these bones, the project stops and the bones have to be analyzed to determine if they are, in fact, native Hawaiian bones.

And I'm wondering if you have any involvement in that and if the investigation or the analysis goes any further than just determining if they are Hawaiian bones or if there was any forensic problems involved with causing these bones in the first place.

Ms. REICHS: My only involvement in forensics in Hawaii has been through the military lab, and that's as I describe it in "Spider Bones," in the book. That would be, you know, confirming the identity of service persons who have died, either World War II or Korea or Southeast Asia or the Cold War.

But the issue you talk of is not unique to Hawaii. This is an issue that is the question of whether they're Native American - native Hawaiian, of course, is a uniquely Hawaiian question.

But anytime bones are found, work at a construction site would stop, and someone would have to come in and evaluate if those are prehistoric Native Americans or what exactly are the human remains that you've dug up. Depending on what's determined by the forensic anthropologist, they would then either go to an archaeologist or to the coroner medical examiner for analysis. If they're Native American, Native Hawaiian, then there has been quite a movement recently to get all of that material back to the proper cultural group for reburial.

CONAN: And there - issues come up, I know, in New York City with the discovery of slave cemeteries there.

Ms. REICHS: Exactly. Right. And those would be - really the question would be addressed by a historical archeologist.

STAN: Well, thank you so much for that clarification. I really look forward to reading your new book. I haven't read it yet, but I definitely will.

Ms. REICHS: Thank you.

CONAN: Stan, thanks very much for the call.

STAN: Thank you.

CONAN: Here's an email question from Tyson(ph). I have a quick question about the show. My wife and I are big fans. We've seen almost all the episodes. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what the purpose of the character Angela Montenegro is. Are there actually people in this field that identify bodies through sketching them? It seems there are many - so many more efficient ways to accomplish this task.

Ms. REICHS: Well, Angela is partly an artist and partly our kind of computer guru. There are people who specialize in doing facial reconstructions.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. REICHS: There are people who specialize in doing three-dimensional crime scene reconstructions through, you know - what do you call that -CAD-type programs. So Angela does all of that. She does anything that has to do with utilizing computers and reconstructing either people or faces or places.

CONAN: And CAD, of course, is computer-aided design. Not a rake who also works in the office.

Ms. REICHS: Exactly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: When you're writing the show, is there some sort of template to make sure that every character has something to do in every program?

Ms. REICHS: There is. And I learned a lot about how to do this. When I wrote my episode, "The Witch and the Wardrobe," which aired...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. REICHS: ...last spring, you have a very set format. Each show does. And we have six acts and those are broken down into individual scenes. And you have your A story and B story and your C story. And you have to weave all of those together. It's much like constructing a Temperance Brennan novel.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. REICHS: And in the episode that I wrote, our C story involved Angela and Hodgins getting married. And that played against the main stories of, you know, who were these two skeletons that were dug up that appear to be witches.

CONAN: And when you say you go in and pitch your story idea to the writers room, were they at least a little bit intimidated that the creator of the whole series, the author is pitching an idea here?

Ms. REICHS: Not really because I work with them regularly. I love our writers. We have the best staff of any TV show on air, I think. We have no divas or prima donnas. Everyone gets along. It's just really a great working experience.

CONAN: We are talking with Kathy Reichs. The TV show we're talking about is "Bones." Her new book is "Spider Bones."

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's go next to Paul(ph), Paul with us from Race Lake in Wisconsin.

PAUL (Caller): Good afternoon. How are you today?

CONAN: I'm well. Thank you.

PAUL: That's good. I have, basically, a question. First of all, I've been involved in law enforcement for over 20 years, and I've worked as an investigator. But one of the things I've noticed watching a lot of these shows on TV now is that a lot of the forensics are being taught to people that are out there. And a lot of times, the people know more about the forensics than the police that are taking the calls.

And we find that the people that are in management in law enforcement agencies are used to the old-timers that are on their way out, ready to retire, and really aren't concerned about this. What is out there that's going to help train local officers to better handle these calls and recognize what is good evidence and what needs to be done? Because I'm finding lots of times people are being called on after the fact and come and tell us everything we did wrong, but nobody ever told us what to do in the first place.

Ms. REICHS: I know there are a lot of training courses that are available for law enforcement. I can't give you a list right off the top of my head. But I would think you could Google that or I would think you could go through the American Academy of Forensic Sciences onto their website and find lists of training opportunities for law enforcement personnel. I know I've taught them myself. I used to teach a body recovery workshop at the FBI Academy in Quantico. And we would teach -and I've done the same for the RCMP in Canada - teach the law enforcement personnel the proper way to recover human remains and the evidence associated with human remains.

CONAN: Paul, thanks very much. Email from Tim(ph) in Franklin Grove, Illinois. My grandfather, Dr. Albert A. Dahlberg, helped start the dental anthropology department at the University of Chicago and was commissioned by the Chicago Police Department to identify a local robber by his dental records as the crook took a bite out of a block of cheese before fleeing from the supermarket. This bite out of crime convicted the thief, but I was wondering if such evidence is now considered strong enough for current prosecutions.

Ms. REICHS: Yeah. I know bite marks have been analyzed in media other than human flesh. I actually use that technique in my first book, in "Deja Dead" there was a bite in something that wasn't cheese, but it wasn't a person either. So, yeah, that technique has been used. I think it's being held to higher standards now than it might have been back in Dr. Dahlberg's day.

CONAN: We all know that brie can't hold a dental print.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. REICHS: Exactly.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next...

Ms. REICHS: You need a good cheddar, right.

CONAN: Let's go to Jim(ph), and Jim is with us from Charlotte.

JIM (Caller): Yeah. Real quickly. This is kind of a follow up to the police officer's question. But I'm a lawyer. And what I see are the disappointed faces on jurors when they find out that the criminal case they're going to sit on doesn't have all the fancy forensic evidence and testing that they get to see on television. And my prosecutor friends have told me that they always have some concern that the jury will think they must not have much of a case if they don't have all the fancy results that...

CONAN: Yeah.

JIM: ...we, quite frankly, can't afford.

CONAN: And no disrespect to both, but I think it's called the CSI effect.

Ms. REICHS: Yeah, the CSI effect.

JIM: Right. CSI.

Ms. REICHS: And I know there are some defense attorneys I've worked with that actually tell the jury, explain to the jury why they're not presenting certain kinds of evidence, because that is the downside to some of the shows is that it does raise perhaps unrealistic expectations about what will be available in every single case.

JIM: Well, and of course TV has messed it up for all of us, from "Ally McBeal" and all the legal shows, so we all...

(Soundbite of laughter)

JIM: ...have a difficult time separating reality from television in the courtroom. Anyway, I appreciate your - the research you do and the work you do. Thank you very much.

CONAN: Sure.

Ms. REICHS: Thank you.

CONAN: Thanks very much. Do you watch those other procedurals?

Ms. REICHS: I watch some of them. There's some I find really annoying, because they do things that I know you simply can't do.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. REICHS: And I don't think that's fair. I know on "Bones" we push it, push the envelope a bit, but we never put anything on that doesn't actually exist as a real technique.

CONAN: The latest in the series of books by Kathy Reichs featuring Temperance Brennan is out yesterday. It's called "Spider Bones." And her TV show, of course, is "Bones" on Fox, and we thank you very much for her time today.

Ms. REICHS: Thank you.

CONAN: You can read an excerpt from the book at our website at, click on TALK OF THE NATION. And Kathy Reichs was with us from our bureau in New York.

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