Novelist who went from crime labs to crime fiction to visit WCU Nov. 18

Forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs will discuss a career that has taken her from crime labs to best-selling crime fiction when she visits Western Carolina University on Tuesday, Nov. 18, as part of the 2008-09 Chancellor’s Speaker Series.

reichs-web08Reichs’ novels provided the inspiration for the hit Fox television series “Bones.” They include the book “Fatal Voyage,” set in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and her latest thriller, “Devil Bones,” hot off the presses this summer.

While on campus, Reichs (shown at right) will take part in an informal discussion open only to WCU students, followed by a 7:30 p.m. public presentation titled “Forensic Anthropology: From Crime Lab to Crime Fiction.” Both events are set for the main performance hall of WCU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Tickets for the evening program are available. Admission is free of charge, but there is a limit of four tickets per person.

The Chancellor’s Speaker Series is designed to bring significant national and international leaders to campus to discuss major issues of the day, and to provide Western students with an opportunity to interact with some of the people who shape and influence the world.
Past speakers have included former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole; presidential candidate John Edwards; former U.S. Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders; Nobel Peace Prize-winning Polish leader Lech Walesa; actor Danny Glover; Gen. Richard B. Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Cynthia Cooper, the whistleblower who exposed corporate fraud at WorldCom.

Reichs’ debut novel, “Deja Dead,” became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other fiction works, which chronicle the adventures of forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, include “Death du Jour,” “Deadly Decisions,” “Grave Secrets,” “Bare Bones,” “Monday Mourning,” “Cross Bones,” “Break No Bones” and “Bones to Ashes.”

A faculty member in the anthropology and sociology department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Reichs is a frequent consultant to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and to law enforcement officials in the province of Quebec, Canada. She has traveled to Rwanda to testify at a United Nations tribunal on genocide, helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala, and aided in the identification of war dead from World War II and conflicts in Korea and Southeast Asia.

Reichs is one of only 77 forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. Her visit to Western will bring her to a campus where another board-certified forensic anthropologist, John Williams, directs the academic program in forensic anthropology. Williams and his colleague, Cheryl Johnston, operate the Western Carolina Human Identification Laboratory and an outdoor decomposition research facility (commonly referred to as a body farm) that is only the second of its kind in the nation.

To reserve a seat for the Nov. 18 public appearance by Reichs, contact the Fine and Performing Arts Center box office at (828) 227-2479. Ticket holders must be seated by 7:15 p.m.