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R&R 059 | Déjà Dead (Temperance Brennan #1)

Kathy Reichs
Déjà Dead (Temperance Brennan #1)
First published in 1997
This edition: Arrow books (Random House), 2005
ISBN: 978-0-09-925518-5
Cover image by Glenn O'Neill

R&R 059 | Déjà Dead (Temperance Brennan #1)
I needed an obvious bone. So I went to the pet store. *blush*

If you happen to watch Fox's "Bones" every now and again (or, like me, religiously), you may have seen the name Kathy Reichs pop up in the credits. "Bones", after all, is based on and inspired by the life of Kathy Reichs, bestselling author and a well respected forensic anthropologist, like the main character of "Bones". That would be Temperance 'Tempe' Brennan – also the name of the main character in Reichs' books (the first one being Déjà Dead).

Though the main character has the same name and profession in both TV show and books, they are really quite different from one and other.
TV-Brennan is young and single, with a darker past involving her parents. She's also robotic, extremely rational and lacking in the social skills department, taking things way too literally. She lives in Washington DC, where she also works for the Jeffersonian Institute, the place where she and her team (including agent Seeley Booth) solve cases for the FBI. She occasionally publishes a best-selling novel about a forensic anthropologist named (of course) Kathy Reichs. Oh, when worlds collide….
Books-Brennan is a middle-aged recovering alcoholic, recently divorced with one daughter away in College. She hails from North-Carolina, where she spends half of her time teaching. The other half is spent in Canada's Montreal, while she works for the Laboratoire de Médecine Légale; her colleagues are a bunch of French-speaking cops. Here, Temperance is fine in the social skills department, but she has a knack for being a bit too persistent in her quest for answers; she gets herself in trouble quite often as a result.

There. I've covered the inevitable comparison between TV-show and book series. Conclusion: they are really quite different from one and other.

In Déjà Dead, Temperance Brennan and her appointed partner Detective Claudel are researching a series of sudden disappearances in Montreal. Brennan's instincts tell her something more is going on; could these disappeared people be victims of a serial killer? Det. Claudel, the poster-boy for cynicism, doesn't really believe her; Brennan's hard, convincing work and a higher body count finally make Claudel realize that there's a serial killer on the loose. But Brennan's aforementioned persistence puts her at risk, jeopardizing the possibility of solving this case. Because Brennan is probably the only one who's able to solve this series of murders… and that hasn't escaped a certain killer's attention.

You can definitely tell that Reichs knows what she's talking about. Not just from the jargon and explanation of routines and procedures, but also from what Brennan thinks when she's at work and how she processes what she sees in front of her (death). This is clearly written by a forensic anthropologist; Brennan is realistic in that sense. But despite her obvious skills as a forensic anthropologist, Reichs does make it all understandable to those of us who aren't working in forensics, who don't have medical backgrounds.

The cop lingo is a bit much at times, but its cheese factor is acceptable, considering Brennan's voice in contrast sounds very natural (because it's Reichs' own voice, pretty much) and the narrative flows with ease; Reichs has a way with words. She seems comfortable in her role as an author and I as a reader am comfortable with Reichs.

The storyline is exciting and has a fast pace; I kept turning those pages, and regularly caught myself re-handed, taking sneak peeks thirty pages ahead because I just couldn't wait to find out what happened next. And it's like that with the series. I can't wait to find out what the other books have in store for me.

Reichs has me hooked; I'll definitely keep reading her Brennan books. (And I'll also keep watching "Bones". Two different versions, both equally appealing.)

R&R series (and its photos, reviews) © Karin Elizabeth 2008-2009

Karin Elizabeth
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