Review: Déjà Dead – Kathy Reichs


Temperance Brennan #1

I have read a few of these books in no particular order over the years – not all of them, but a few, and decided to go back and read them in the correct order and see how I felt about Kathy Reichs’s writing after that. This is the first Temperance Brennan book, and my fifteenth entry to my book challenge.

Dr Temperance Brennan is a the Director of Forensic Anthropology for the province of Quebec, and is called out one afternoon to check out some bones. A feeling tells her that it will not be an ancient burial, and she is correct. The mutilated corpse of a young woman is dredged from garbage bags that have been dumped. Something seems off to Brennan, but she cannot place what it is. Once in autopsy, she continues to grasp at what is bothering her so much about the most recent corpse.

Soon Brennan is convinced that this case has similarities to one of her older cases, but instead of being met with helpfulness, she is met with hostility. She is an anthropologist, and should not interfere with the detectives’ job. She is angered that they will not take it seriously while they are sure she is cooking up some American serial killer story in her boredom. If no one will help her, she will do it on her own. Painstakingly slowly she starts to tie the cases together, all the while worrying about her best friend Gabby Macaulay and what she may have gotten mixed up in.

More bodies turn up as the days go by, and still no one will hear of her crazy theory. Fighting her own demons as well as the police is not easy when it soon becomes evident that there is a monster on the loose, and he has his sights set on Brennan. Her insistence on looking at all the murders as though committed by the same perpetrator has divided the police force, support for her as well as professional courtesy. Will she be able to tie the cases together as well as get someone to take her claim seriously? Will detective Andrew Ryan take her side, or back up the ever-frustrating and dismissive detective Luc Claudel.

GRADE 6There really are a few things that set my teeth on edge about this book. The content is pretty cool, the execution is at some times lacking a little bit. I don’t like for instance how a character will say something, and all that she will write after it is a name, or how a whole conversation will go on between multiple characters and there is no indication of who is speaking at any given time. Then the French. It is fine when she translates it, but it angers me when it is not. Not everyone can speak French. However, the story was quite interesting, and the anthropology field is majorly interesting.  It is evident that this is a first novel for her, and at some points can get excessively long winded for nothing. Not a terrible first read, but her writing style needs to be tightened up considerably. Also, if you are looking at this expecting a written rehash of the television series, you have to think again. To say that the show is loosely based on this book series is the understatement of the century. Try to keep the two separated when reading.

2 thoughts on “Review: Déjà Dead – Kathy Reichs

  1. Hi Zoë,

    We enjoyed your review of Déjà Dead. Would you be interested in putting a question about the book to the author Kathy Reichs at a recording of the BBC World Book Club on the World Service?

    If you emailed it to us at we could read it out to Kathy during our recording on 17th September or even ask if you’d like to speak directly to her on the telephone. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Best wishes, Gill, BBC World Book Club


    1. Hi Gill!

      Thank you very much for the opportunity! I will think this over and email a question along to you. Thank you very much, and best of luck.


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