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

Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan Series #1)

3.9 682
by Kathy Reichs

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See where the smash #1 New York Times bestselling Temperance Brennan “cleverly plotted and expertly maintained” (The New York Times) series all began with Deja Dead, the first installment from forensic anthropologist and internationally bestselling thriller writer Kathy Reichs.

Her life is devoted to justice—for those she

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See where the smash #1 New York Times bestselling Temperance Brennan “cleverly plotted and expertly maintained” (The New York Times) series all began with Deja Dead, the first installment from forensic anthropologist and internationally bestselling thriller writer Kathy Reichs.

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, Temperance 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...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Accomplished and chilling." — People

"As good as Cornwell at her best." — Detroit Free Press

"Great, suspenseful fun." — New York Newsday

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.

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Product Details

Pocket Star
Publication date:
Temperance Brennan Series, #1
Sales rank:
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

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