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Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan Series #1)
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Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan Series #1)

3.9 686
by Kathy Reichs

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Kathy Reichs blasts into Patricia Cornwell territory -- and onto the New York Times bestseller list -- with this critically acclaimed debut novel inspired by Reichs' own career. Dr. Temperance Brennan, the wry, impassioned director of forensic anthropology for the province of Quebec, is driven to unravel shocking acts of violence by reading the bones of the


Kathy Reichs blasts into Patricia Cornwell territory -- and onto the New York Times bestseller list -- with this critically acclaimed debut novel inspired by Reichs' own career. Dr. Temperance Brennan, the wry, impassioned director of forensic anthropology for the province of Quebec, is driven to unravel shocking acts of violence by reading the bones of the dead.

In the year since Tempe left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. But when an unidentified female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in garbage bags, Tempe detects an alarming pattern within the grisly handiwork -- and her professional detachment gives way to a harrowing search for a killer in the city's winding streets. With little help from the police, Tempe calls on her expertise, honed in the isolated intensity of the autopsy suite, to investigate on her own. But her determined chase is about to place those closest to her -- her best friend and her daughter -- in mortal danger....

Editorial Reviews

New Orleans Times-Picayune
With fast action, a great lead character, impeccable writing, [and] a perfect setting....Deja Dead is a keeper.
New York Newsday
Great, suspensful fun....A fascinating inside look at the workings of a coroner's office....Temperance Brennan is the real thing. That's because her creator, Kathy Reichs, is the real thing.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With this assured and intelligent debut, Reichs introduces herself as a prodigious new talent in the crime game. Someone is murdering and dismembering women in Montreal, and forensic anthropologist Temperance "Tempe" Brennan, a middle-aged North Carolina transplant, is having a tough time convincing the Canadian version of the old boy network that the grizzly slayings are the work of a single killer. Since no one believes her theories, Tempe is left pretty much on her own to track the killer, following a trail that leads through demimondes of prostitution, religion and animal research. When a spreadsheet listing past victims and including Tempe's name is discovered in the home of a suspect, even the dyspeptic Constable Claudel is forced to admit that Tempe might be on the right track. Reichs handles the tension between Tempe and the men deftly, allowing the reader to despise their unfair treatment of her while understanding that an expert in such a field can be intimidating. A master of nimble phrasing, Reichs herself entertains readers even as she educates them in some of the finer points of forensics. Tempe is as comfortable negotiating the meaner streets of Montreal as she is talking about the myriad types of saws available to those with a penchant for dismembering their fellow human beings. The final confrontation scene is as gripping as anything in recent suspense fiction, and it is impossible not to like the vulnerable, observant and competent Tempe, who refreshingly admits to never having "gotten used to" the maggots that abandon corpses on the cutting table: "the seething blanket of pale yellow... dropping from the body to the table to the floor, in a slow but steady drizzle." FYI: Reichs, like her heroine, is a forensic anthropologist in North Carolina and Canada, and a professor.
Library Journal
A superb new writer introduces her intrepid heroine to crime fiction. Dr. Tempe Brennan, a trowel-packing forensic anthropologist from North Carolina, works in Montreal's Laboratoire de Médecine Légale examining recovered bodies to help police solve missing-persons cases and murders. It's clear to Tempe that the remains of several women killed and savagely mutilated point to a sadistic serial killer, but she can't convince the police. Determined to prevent more brutal deaths, she sleuths solo, tracking her quarry through Montreal's seedy underworld of hookers, where her anthropologist friend Gabby, doing her own scary research, is being stalked by a creep. Despite her ability to work among fetid, putrefying smells that "leap out and grab" and her "go-to-hell attitude" with seasoned cops, Tempe is as vulnerable as a soft Carolina morning. When a grinning skull is planted in her garden, her investigation turns personal and escalates to an intense and satisfying conclusion. Except for imparting an excess of lab information, Reichs, also a forensic anthropologist, drives the pace at a heady clip. A first-class writer, she dazzles readers with sensory imagery that is apt, fresh, and funny (e.g., "fingers felt cold and limp, like carrots kept too long in a cooler bin"). Recommended for all fiction collections, this read is sure to be in demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/97.]Molly Gorman, San Marino, Cal.
Kirkus Reviews
Dr. Temperance Brennan, the forensic anthropologist transplanted from North Carolina to Montreal, hopes the bones found at Le Grand Séminaire are too ancient to fall within her purview. No such luck. Not only has Isabelle Gagnon been recently and horribly killed, but Tempe's memory of another grisly discovery in a bunch of trash bags marks this death as the work of a sadistic serial killer who's far from finished. To catch this monster, Tempe and her colleagues at the Laboratoire de Médicine Légale take a long look at several sets of teeth, compare the traces left on human bone by different kinds of saws, and consider exactly what it means to find a bathroom plunger, or a statue of the Virgin Mary, inside a rotting rib cage. As a break from her exhaustive lab sessions, Tempe spars with Sgt. Luc Claudel, the homicide cop who has a problem with interfering women, and hangs out with her grad school friend Gabby Macaulay, whose study of the mating habits of prostitutes is bound to be more closely connected to Tempe's case than she realizes. Tempe is an appealing new heroine, and the forensic detail is gripping, but because Reichs—whose résumé sounds a lot like her heroine's—lacks the whiplash control of Patricia Cornwell at her best, the story seems overlong, overpeopled (more lifeless walk-ons than the phone book), and overwrought. (The hysterical scenes between Tempe and Gabby, who keeps babbling about the unspeakable secrets she just can't share with her old friend, are especially annoying.)

But readers ravenous for ghoulish detail and hints of unfathomable evil, spruced up by the modishly effective Quebec setting, will gobble this first course greedily and expect better-balanced nutrition next time.

From the Publisher
Barry Fisher Crime Lab Director, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department [Reichs] combines that intimate understanding of forensic science and death investigation with that unique ability to weave a story which will keep you in a white-knuckled state of terror.

Product Details

Pocket Star
Publication date:
Temperance Brennan Series , #1
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 11.02(h) x 1.17(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1

I WASN'T THINKING ABOUT THE MAN WHO'D BLOWN HIMSELF UP. Earlier I had. Now I was putting him together. Two sections of skull lay in front of me, and a third jutted from a sand-filled stainless steel bowl, the glue still drying on its reassembled fragments. Enough bone to co

It was late afternoon, Thursday, June 2, 1994. While the glue set, my mind had gone truant. The knock that would break my reverie, tip my life off course, and alter my comprehension of the bounds of human depravity wouldn't come for another ten minutes. I was enjoying my view of the St. Lawrence, the sole advantage of my cramped corner office. Somehow the sight of water has always rejuvenated me, especially when it flows rhythmically. Forget Golden Pond. I'm sure Freud could have run with that.

My thoughts meandered to the upcoming weekend. I had a trip to Quebec City in mind, but my plans were vague. I thought of visiting the Plains of Abraham, eating mussels and crepes, and buying trinkets from the street vendors. Escape in tourism. I'd been in Montreal a full year, working as forensic anthropologist for the province, but I hadn't been up there yet, so it seemed like a good program. I needed a couple of days without skeletons, decomposed bodies, or corpses freshly dragged from the river.

Ideas come easily to me, enacting them comes harder. I usually let things go. Perhaps it's an escape hatch, my way of allowing myself to double back and ease out the side door on a lot of my schemes. Irresolute about my social life, obsessive in my work.

I knew he was standing there before the knock. Though he moved quietly for a man of his bulk, the smell of old pipe tobacco gave him away. Pierre LaManche had been director of the Laboratoire de Médecine Légale for almost two decades. His visits to my office were never social, and I suspected that his news wouldn't be good. LaManche tapped the door softly with his knuckles.

"Temperance?" It rhymed with France. He would not use the shortened version. Perhaps to his ear it just didn't translate. Perhaps he'd had a bad experience in Arizona. He, alone, did not call me Tempe.

"Oui?" After months, it was automatic. I had arrived in Montreal thinking myself fluent in French, but I hadn't counted on Le Français Québecois. I was learning, but slowly.

"I have just had a call." He glanced at a pink telephone slip he was holding. Everything about his face was vertical, the lines and folds moving from high to low, paralleling the long, straight nose and ears. The plan was pure basset hound. It was a face that had probably looked old in youth, its arrangement only deepening with time. I couldn't have guessed his age.

"Two Hydro-Quebec workers found some bones today." He studied my face, which was not happy. His eyes returned to the pink paper.

"They are close to the site where the historic burials were found last summer," he said in his proper, formal French. I'd never heard him use a contraction. No slang or police jargon. "You were there. It is probably more of the same. I need someone to go out there to confirm that this is not a coroner case."

When he glanced up from the paper, the change in angle caused the furrows and creases to deepen, sucking in the afternoon light, as a black hole draws in matter. He made an attempt at a gaunt smile and four crevices veered north.

"You think it's archaeological?" I was stalling. A scene search had not been in my pre-weekend plans. To leave the next day I still had to pick up the dry cleaning, do the laundry, stop at the pharmacy, pack, put oil in the car, and explain cat care to Winston, the caretaker at my building.

He nodded.

"Okay." It was not okay.

He handed me the slip. "Do you want a squad car to take you there?" I looked at him, trying hard for baleful. "No, I drove in today." I read the address. It was close to home. "I'll find it."

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.

Copyright ©1997 by Kathleen J. Reichs

Meet the Author

Kathy Reichs is the author of more than twenty New York Times bestselling novels featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, including her most recent The Bone Collection. Like her protagonist, Reichs is a forensic anthropologist—one of fewer than one hundred ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. A professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she is a former vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and serves on the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. Reichs’s own life, as much as her novels, is the basis for the TV show Bones, one of the longest-running series in the history of the FOX network.

Brief Biography

Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Québec
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
B.A., American University, 1971; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University

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Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan Series #1) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 686 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to start by saying that I came to this book by way of the TV show Bones. I love the quirky characters in the show and was hoping that the book's Temperance Brennan would be the same as the show's. As it turns out, they have nothing to do with each other. If you're hoping for the show, don't pick up this book. If you want a good murder mystery, then this is a pretty good one. The characters are fairly realistic. The forensics appear spot on. The French phrases do get annoying, though. And WHY do authors always have the main character do really stupid things (like go into bad neighborhoods alone in the middle of the night)? The ending was appropriate and didn't feel rushed. I would recommend this book to mystery lovers, but I don't think I'll be reading another one of hers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my first Kathy Reich's book and I thorougly enjoyed it. I love Tempe's character - she's good at what she does and she's not totally 'full of herself' - and I love a character that has a flaw here and there....she's a great character and I couldn't put the book down...I enjoyed all the characters and the way the storyline came together - certainly kept me turning the pages. The only problem is, now I have to read all the books - in order - to get to the newest novel. I will definitely read them all.
Janet_Noodles More than 1 year ago
The Temperance Brennan Series is one I truly hope will never end. I've read all of the books, some of them twice, and I look forward to the show every week. It's great to have a powerful, smart and engaging woman leading the way through such complex and fascinating stories that are so easy to read. I can't wait for whatever is coming next!
Knuffelbaer More than 1 year ago
Admittedly, I am not someone who typically enjoys a novel written in first person. I usually have a much harder time getting into a novel if it is in first person. But NOT Kathy Reichs' novels. No way. I was skeptical when I first started Deja Dead, and then I couldn't put it down! Reichs' characters aren't the same as one may be accustomed to from BONES the TV show, but that shouldn't discourage anyone who LOVES BONES to read Reichs' books. I'm hooked!!! I've already started novel number 2 in the Temperance Brennan series, Dead du Jour.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Took a long time to get to the "action". I found all the medical terminology and the French phrases tiresome. Once I got to the last quarter of the book it picked up. I felt a lot more character development could have been done, especially on Gabby.
HondaSolLuv More than 1 year ago
This was a thrilling novel I would be happy to read again and again. This is my first book by Kathy Reichs, she sparked my interest because I am a huge fan of the TV show Bones. If you love the show the books are even better. It is not the same Temperance Brennan from the show however, she is divorced and has a child and is not very timid at all. The story has a good plot, stays fresh throughout the story and keeps you guessing. All the characters are very interesting and Reichs is certain to fully develop their personal stories. I am going to read the whole series, I can't put them down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first in the series of mysteries about a forensic pathologist. Not connected with the Bones T V show. Fast paced, action packed. A little romance thrown in. The science is explained well and not boring. I am now reading the 13th book and still loving them. Best to read in order for character continuity. The author is a real life forensic pathologist so the science is real. Get it and enjoy the ride. E R
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read a review of this book in 'The Chronicle of Higher Education', of all places. At the time, Kathy Reichs was a professor at the University of North Carolina and the reviewer pointed out not only the great story and character development, but the accuracy and techical detail of 'Deja Dead'. Reichs' description of the neighborhoods in Montreal where her character lives and works is dead on (if you will excuse the pun). She also accurately portrays the tensions between the anglophone and francophone populations of Quebec and Montreal and the difficulty her character Tempe Brennan has in negotiating this territory. Unfortunately, I don't think Reichs' subsequent books in the Brennan series stand up as well as this debut novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Normally, I'm not really into thrillers but this book is filled with forensic wonders that had my brain completely tuned in to it. It held my interest all the way through, and actually had me listening to it nonstop throughout my day... every day, until I'd finished it! I couldn't wait to see what kind of tests Tempe would use and I love that everything in this one was actually experienced by the author in real life. Again, I loved this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before you start reading this book you'd better be sure that you have a couple hours on hand because you're going to be reading for a while! I extremely liked the book, and I had trouble putting it down. Deja Dead tells you a bit about the different districts of Montreal. The book was in my opinion very fastenating and you won't be able to wait to read the sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all 17 books (so far) in the series and have come back to #1 to write a review. This is a really well-written and engaging series and I would highly tecommend it to mystery fans. One warning: it is not like the TV series at all. It is much more realistic and, in my opinion, more entertaining. S. Clanahan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like the tv show Bones, go no further... don't bother as our Tempe is nothing like the 'Bones' of tvland.  She is smart and brave with human flaws but she never lets you down.  Deja Dead was my intro to this Kathy Reichs series. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading all of them. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I decided to begin this series because I'm a big fan of the television show. That being said you can only catch glimpses of the show's characters and back story in those of Reichs' book; her written work seems to be a whole other animal. Deja Dead was a great lead off into what I'm sure will be a strong series. The heroine of the novels makes you want to continue along with her as she keeps using her knowledge (and stubbornness, let's be honest) to dig for the truth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book out based on the sole point that is takes place in Montreal. I am so glad I read this book, I did not realize how scary it would actually be. I looked for a man in an orange baseball cap in my dark and quiet house for many nights until I fell asleep. I was so enthralled one evening I did not stop reading until 4am. Her accuracy on Montreal landmarks and streets was so precise I could picture every block she drove past in the story. I felt as if I was looking and waiting for the killer. I did also buy Death Du Jour but Deja Dead was so real I have to read something much more light hearted before I begin my next forensic expedition. GREAT BOOK.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first book by this author that I read. It was recommended to me by my daughter. Since it was written with such detail it took a great deal of concentration to follow her descriptions. The story line was interesting and I enjoyed the mystery she protrayed. I will probably read another one in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as I thought it would be. It seems that the character "Temperance", goes off on side thoughts with dreams. Maybe some people like that but I am not a fan of that. Overall it is good. It does hold me interest and I will by the next one in line.
AvidReader118 More than 1 year ago
I read the book from cover to cover so quickly, I couldn't believe it was over. I wanted more and am definitely going to read the rest of the series. The show is not so bad either. ;)
didi-one-o-one More than 1 year ago
I started reading these books after I started seeing bones on TV and having my fill of Cornwell's Scarpetta (not that she is bad, I love her to if you haven't read it go read one now) and was looking for a new CSI like book. I started with Grave Secrets and found that I need to go back to the beginning to enjoy it fully. If you are traveling or need to fill some ideal time, this is like watching it on TV but better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the best first novel in a series i've ever read, and i've read a lot.
Too-many-booksMS More than 1 year ago
I love a good mystery, especially one where the plot is set at a good pace. My knowledge of anatomy from college and taking French lessons in high school helped me decipher some of the meanings before they were explained in the book, but you don't need to know either to understand what is going on. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
autumncrazy428 More than 1 year ago
Simply fabulous!
Amon More than 1 year ago
Deja Dead is one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not a bad book. I enjoy reading forensics but not in 1st POV. I prefer 3rd POV. Despite that I really liked reading this one. A great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started it, then it's like it took over. I had trouble putting it down.