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Review: Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs

Her life is devoted to justice; for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her, her best friend and her own daughter, in mortal danger…


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Temperence Brennan is a middle age forensic anthropologist who is works in academia in North Carolina and in her field of specialty in Quebec.  In this introductory novel, Tempe is forced to uncover clues about several women who are found murdered and dismembered.  When the first body is delivered to her lab, she begins to recognize parallels between this victim and one that was discovered a year earlier.

I am torn about this particular book. If I had read it when it first came out, I’m not sure I would have continued with the series.  I enjoy the idea of a forensic anthropologist being pulled into the mystery of uncovering why a victim dies and whodunnit.  It’s almost parallel to a cozy mystery, except Tempe has a more realistic job that would give her better access to uncovering details about the crime.  Unlike the television series, Tempe has a very contentious relationship with the lead investigator. It’s clear that detective Claudel is neither impressed by her qualifications nor her insights that lead her to believe multiple cases are linked.

This Temperance does have a more diverse background. She’s a recovering alcoholic divorcee, whose adult daughter is in college.  This background does offer room for the author to bring up details from Tempe’s past. I think there’s a lot of growth needed in Temperance’s character, and I’m curious to see how the author develops Tempe’s story during the course of this series.

One thing that surprised me is how different this book is from the show. I actually feel that these creative difference helped to enhance my interest.  One difference I enjoyed was the setting of Quebec.  Although I am from North America, I admit that my knowledge of Canada, their cultures, and setting is very limited.  In fact, it’s based off of true crime incidences and information passed on by some of my lovely Canadian friends.  This book was a nice change from typical small town or big city USA.

While I enjoyed the setting, I was disappointed by how isolated and alone Tempe is in the novel.  Unlike the show, Temperance has very few relationships that are worth noting.  In fact, her best relationship seems to be with her cat.  There are no lab assistants or co-workers to engage in conversations, outside of basic day-to-day work.  Even the introduction of her “best friend” Gabby is lack luster.  In a sense, she is more standoffish than her television counterpart.

I did find some of the book to be redundant or excessive.  There is a lot of French throughout the text and Temperance is often explaining the meaning.  While this is helpful since my French is rudimentary at best, I can see how this could be alienating to some readers.  I also found parts of Temperance’s style of narrating to be dry.

Reviewer’s note: I was a fan of the hit show Bones for the entirety of its run. While the show is “based” on this book series, I recognize that it’s not really that connected.  I will try to refrain from comparing the two and enjoy this book series on its own merits.


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About Kristine

As an aspiring author, avid bookworm, fitness fanatic and dedicated mother, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I write or post about things I'm passionate about and spend my time trying to make the most of every day. Life may be a tough journey, but I have my ruby red slippers and am content on skipping along this yellow brick road until the end of the line.

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