Book Review: Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

image link from kathyreichs.com

Kathy Reichs hooked me with her first scene in Deja Dead. A murder mystery with just the right amount of foreshadowing, and the perfect opening sentence, Kathy Reichs leaves an unmistakable impression of what life as a forensic anthropologist feels like.

I wasn’t thinking about the man who’d blown himself up. Earlier I had. Now I was putting him together.

~ Deja Dead Excerpt, by Kathy Reichs

I wanted to read her books for a while, mostly because of the television show Bones. A little apprehensive at first, I immediately identified with Temperance Brennan (Tempe). In Bones Tempe is strictly logical (something my pattern-based brain relates to), but warm characters surround her and balance her out. In the book series, Tempe is as warm as her southern author. Kathy Reichs contrasts this with her location.

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, Tempe 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….

~ Deja Dead back cover

As a Canadian woman who spent 8 years in the 80s and early 90s attending French Immersion, I love the setting of Deja Dead: Montreal. All the historical and local references in 1990s Montreal give additional life to the story, from the FLQ to the Quebec sovereignty vote, to the Montreal Jazz festival. Her descriptions of Quebecers coming to life after the long winter provides the perfect counterbalance to the dead bodies and gruesome discoveries Tempe investigates.

I really enjoyed the conflicts of Tempe’s situation. Separated but not divorced – a personal limbo of sorts – she tried something new in Montreal, including learning a new language. I appreciate the her attempts to balance herself and her profession – how to fight for the deceased without letting emotions overwhelm her – combined with the eccentricities of her friends and coworkers.

He left as silently as he’d come. Pierre LaManche favored crepe-soled shoes, kept his pockets empty so nothing jangled or swished. Like a croc in a river he arrived and departed unannounced by auditory cues. Some of the staff found it unnerving.

I packed a set of coveralls in a backpack with my rubber boots, hoping I wouldn’t need either, and grabbed my laptop, briefcase, and the embroidered canteen cover that was serving as that season’s purse. I was still promising myself that I wouldn’t be back until Monday, but another voice in my head was intruding, insisting otherwise.

~ Deja Dead Excerpt, by Kathy Reichs

Finally Ms. Reichs amazed me when, at a crucial moment in the story, she describes a photo-editing process that doesn’t slow down the story, but actually increases the nail-biting potential. I’ve read the second book already, and when my courses settle down a bit, I plan on diving into the rest of the series.

*****

What books are currently inspiring your writing? Are they the same genre?

*****
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