Title: Deja Dead
Author: Kathy Reichs
Release Date: September 2, 1997
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist working in Montreal. She has recently divorced her husband and her daughter is away at college, so Temperance feels alone in the world. When a set of bones is discovered in the city, Temperance is immediately able to determine that they’re from a recent murder. As she discovers more about the victim, Temperance begins to come to her own conclusions about the case and realizes that she has to do more digging if she’s going to solve it.
As part of my mystery kick, I’ve been reading some books on forensic anthropology. I’m not normally one who enjoys gory descriptions, but I still find the work these anthropologists do fascinating. Admittedly, Deja Dead was one of the more difficult, descriptive books I’ve read on the subject, but for good reason – Kathy Reichs herself is a forensic anthropologist, and it’s clear she knows exactly what she’s talking about.
I had mixed feelings on Temperance Brennan. On one hand, she was smart, savvy, and determined to find the killer. She put everything she knew and had learned to the test as she tried to figure out the culprit. At the same time, though, she did some really stupid things that she was way too smart for. When you establish a character that smart (as Temperance seems to be), having them take unnecessary risks seems out of character. Temperance often strikes out on her own in this book, knowing full well she has no way of defending herself and there’s a good chance she’ll be killed. This isn’t due to a lack of options on Temperance’s part, but rather an impulsiveness that seems to drive her. I often was frustrated with the risks she took and wished she would be smarter about these things, especially because she was really too smart to be doing them.
The mystery in Deja Dead was very interesting. At times, I felt like everything tied together a little too neatly, but as I understood more about the case, it all made sense. Reichs definitely keeps the reader guessing. Additionally, the setting of Montreal really adds to the book. Reichs brings the city to life in Deja Dead, really giving the reader a sense of what it’s like.
Despite my quibbles with Temperance Brennan, I really did enjoy Deja Dead. The quality of the mystery and the interesting nature of Temperance’s work make up for my frustrations with her character, so I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.