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....
About the Author
Kathy Reichs is the author of nineteen New York Times bestselling novels and the coauthor, with her son, Brendan Reichs, of six novels for young adults. Like the protagonist of her Temperance Brennan series, Reichs is a forensic anthropologist—one of fewer than one hundred and fifteen 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.
Hometown:Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Québec
Place of Birth:Chicago, Illinois
Education:B.A., American University, 1971; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University
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.
"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
Table of Contents
On Thursday, August 21, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Kathy Reichs, author of DÉJÀ DEAD.
Moderator: Hello and welcome to the barnesandnoble.com Live Events Auditorium. This evening barnesandnoble.com is pleased to host debut author and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, who will be discussing her riveting thriller DÉJÀ DEAD. Welcome, Ms. Reichs! Thanks so much for joining us tonight!
Kathy Reichs: Nice to be here.
Colleen from Newark, DELAWARE: Hello, Ms. Reichs! How did you come up with the title of your book?
Kathy Reichs: I wanted a French word that English speakers would be familiar with. I also like the alliterative, the DÉJÀ DEAD sound. And my son suggested two short words looked good on a jacket.
pritchard from sarasota, fl: Hi! I really enjoyed DÉJÀ DEAD! You are better than Patricia Cornwell! Just curious, how similar is Kathy Reichs to DÉJÀ DEAD's main character Temperance Brennan? Just how different? Thanks for taking my question.
Kathy Reichs: Professionally similar, personally different. I'm having a beer right now. Professionally I'm a professor at UNC/ Charlotte and a forensic anthropologist who works in Quebec. I used bits and pieces of different cases in the story. Personally I'm very different from Tempe. I drink and she's a recovering alcoholic. Her personal problems are really her own. In the story she takes a lot more risks than I do. We share some of the same feelings about violence and concern/sadness for the victim.
Mike Henry from Long Island: What is the difference between a forensic anthropologist and a coroner? What exactly does a forensic anthropologist do?
Kathy Reichs: A coroner may or may not be a medical doctor. A medical examiner is a forensic pathologist. A forensic anthropologist specializes in bones. So the forensic anthropologist works on cases where a normal autopsy won't work. The body is too decomposed or burned or mummified or skeletonized.
CARTER from DETROIT, MI: What do the pins mean on the map of Montreal on the jacket of DÉJÀ DEAD?
Kathy Reichs: Body locations. There is a scene in which Tempe and Ryan place pins on a map to indicate where victims were found.
GIRLZ78 from AOL: Why did you decide to become a forensic anthropologist? Why didn't you go into the archeology or cultural anthropology, like Tempe's friend Gabby?
Kathy Reichs: I started out in bio-archeology. When police brought me cases, I found that I like the applied aspect -- solving a real problem -- which will effect people's lives. I studied all the courses that were relevant to it -- pathology, biomechanics. My dissertation, however, was archeological.
Gracia from Davidson, NC: Hello Dr. Reichs! How much of DÉJÀ DEAD is based on cases that you've worked on? Was there one particular case that inspired you to write this thriller? Are there cases throughout the book reminiscent of cases you've worked on?
Kathy Reichs: I taught at Davidson in the early 80s. The story draws on many many cases I worked on. It's a mix. DÉJÀ DEAD is really a mix of lots of different cases.
Lyle from New Orleans: It's almost a cliche. In pretty much every police drama or mystery inevitably someone is around a fresh crime scene, eating hotdogs or drinking cocoa around a bloody corpse. Does that ever really happen? Do people ever become so immune to a dead body that they can actually eat in front of it?
Kathy Reichs: I'd have to say yes. Especially if you are outside at a crime scene, you need coffee to keep you going. Or if it's very hot, you need something cold to keep you going. I've never seen anybody eat in the autopsy room, however. There are some pungent odors and it wouldn't be a smart thing to do from a health point of view.
Joelle Snyder from Pampano, FL: How fluent is your French? Living in Montreal, it must be pretty good. Do you feel more comfortable talking in French or in English? Have you yet to dream in French?
Kathy Reichs: I am more comfortable in English. I have dreamed in French and all my work here is in French, since I work for the government of Quebec.
John from Troy, NY: Good evening Kathy Reichs. Temperance Brennan is a great name. How did you come up with it? Is temperance evocative of the main character's former drinking problem?
Kathy Reichs: Actually I didn't notice that until I saw that pointed out in an article in Variety. In 1987 I taught a semester at sea -- that's a university ship that goes around the world. There was a student on the ship named Tempe. I liked the name. I have relatives in Troy, NY!
Justin from Ottawa, Canada: I received an advance copy of the book. I am really enjoying it. Do you have any favorite mystery authors?
Kathy Reichs: Yes. James Lee Burke. Robert Parker. Sara Paretsky. I was just in Ottawa. I taught a course at the RCMP.
Eric from Texas: People seem to be comparing you to patricia Cornwell, how do you feel about this?
Kathy Reichs: Flattered! I hope I can live up to the comparison. But her main character is a forensic pathologist. Tempe Brennan is a forensic anthropologist.
Amy G. from NYC: How do you feel about joining the "male genre" of detective fiction?
Kathy Reichs: Well, there are a lot of ladies out there now. Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell, Linda Fairstein, Elizabeth George, Faye Kellerman, Sarah Paretsky, Janet Evanovich. Perhaps we are taking over.
Sue from Doylestown, PA: How did DÉJÀ DEAD get published? Did you have a good agent, a good connection or was it sheer luck?
Kathy Reichs: I had no agent. My daughter had a friend at Scribner, so I sent it direct and they bought it. It was the first house I sent it to.
Joanna from Fresno: Is there one thing that you just can't get used to in your job as a forensic anthropologist?
Kathy Reichs: The hardest thing is seeing murdered children. I'll never get used to that.
Dickson from Columbia: Hello Kathy Reichs. Why didn't you set your novel in North Carolina instead of Montreal?
Kathy Reichs: The second book takes place partly in the Carolinas. Montreal is a wonderful city. It's close enough to be comfortable to Americans yet European enough to be exotic.
Liza from Seattle: Ms. Reichs I loved the book and I was wondering if and when you will be doing any bookstore appearances?
Kathy Reichs: I'll be in Seattle, either September 22 or 23. I'm not sure which bookstore, but I am doing bookstore appearances.
Karen Robinson from Salt Lake City: Have the film rights to DÉJÀ DEAD been optioned? Who would you like to play Tempe?
Kathy Reichs: We're not going to option the character yet. We are going to wait a while. I don't know who I would like to play Tempe. Who would you like to play Tempe?
Sherry from San Diego: Are you going to continue the romantic tension between Ryan and Brennan. I love that they always call each other by their last names.
Kathy Reichs: Ryan will be back in the second book. You'll have to wait and see. . .
Moderator: Thanks for joining us live in the barnesandnoble.com Live Events Auditorium! Click on the red button above to submit your queries!! Ms. Reichs will be here for another half hour.
Matt from New York City: With all you do, as a professor at UNC, working for the state of North Carolina and also for the province of Quebec, how do you find the time to write?
Kathy Reichs: It's hard. I wrote the book on the days I didn't teach. I got up at 6 in the morning and I wrote for 3 hours before going to campus. And then weekends and vacations. It took 2 years.
Barker from S.Royalton, VT: Why did you decide to make Tempe Brennan a recovering alcoholic?
Kathy Reichs: I wanted to give the character texture, complexity. I wanted to make her imperfect, vulnerable but strong.
Lois from Brooklyn: What is the most unusual case that you've ever worked on in your career and a forensic anthropologist?
Kathy Reichs: I currently have a subpoena for a case involving a moose. Since it hasn't gone to trial, that's all I can say. Ask me again in two months.
Linda from Boston: There is a ton of tension between the despicable Detective Claudel and Tempe Brennan and most of it seems to stem from the fact that she's a woman. How prevalent is this attitude in your profession, or would you say it's more a cultural thing, a Canadian thing?
Kathy Reichs: I personally have not experienced those kinds of problems. I have heard stories suggesting it does exist in other places and in other specialties in the forensic sciences. I do not think it's a cultural thing. The law enforcement personnel that I work with have always been very appreciative.
Justin from Ottawa,Canada: When will the next book be out? Late next year?If you are back in Ottawa, you should stop by the airport bookstore to sign a few books. We already have a display up of DÉJÀ DEAD at the front of the store!
Kathy Reichs: I just came through the Montreal airport. Not a book in sight. I'll be in Ottawa on September 15. I hope to complete the second book next summer, so publication would be in the fall of 1999.
Raphael from Chico, NM: In your profession, do you find it hard not to get personally involved in the cases you are working on?
Kathy Reichs: With some cases it's difficult. It's hard to see violence and not have empathy for the victim and the victim's family.
Donna from Brighton, MA: Did you ever gross yourself out writing DÉJÀ DEAD? It is wonderful!! But how could you take reliving all that gore??!!
Kathy Reichs: I cracked myself up occasionally. When you see "the gore" on a daily basis, you become clinical. There's a human being -- no matter what condition they are in -- that deserves to be identified. That's your task and you focus on it.
Paula from Santa Monica: How do you think Tempe Brennan rates against Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta or Linda Fairstein's Alex Cooper? How does she "stack up" -- so to speak -- in comparison to those female protagonists? In my opinion, she is much more human and realistic -- someone I admired and could relate to. Thank you for taking my question, Ms. Reichs.
Kathy Reichs: I tried to make Tempe Brennan a strong heroine but one who also has vulnerabilities. I tried to make her a warm person, someone you might like to know. It's up to you to do the rating with regards to other characters.
Alex from Barnes & Noble Technical Support: How was the cover decided on? Did you and your editor have conflicting views on this topic? And if so how did you come to a conclusion?
Kathy Reichs: The art department -- John Fontana -- he designed the cover. There really wasn't any conflict. We all liked it. I like the tactile quality.
Cynthia Gray from Cedar Rapids, IA: Hello Kathy Reichs! Did you enjoy the process of writing DÉJÀ DEAD or did you find it difficult? How long did it take you to write it?
Kathy Reichs: It was both fun and difficult. My writing experience was exclusively academic writing. Fiction is very different. In some ways it's liberating, in some ways it's more constricting. You can't fall back on jargon as you might in a scholarly article. The book took 2 years.
Steven from Margate, NJ: Who do you like to read? Do you enjoy reading thrillers? Who were your literary influences?
Kathy Reichs: I like to read anyone who writes well, so it's hard to say who my literary influences were. I like Larry McMurtry, I like Pat Conroy. I'm about to start ANGELA'S ASHES. I just read John Douglas's books on profiling.
Kelly from Boulder: WHat was your writing process like? WHere did you write? How long did it take? Did you use a PC?
Kathy Reichs: Yes, I used a computer. I'm very logical, methodical in my writing. I do a chapter by chapter outline. I keep a plot file, a character file, a timeline file, etc.
Peter from SPRINGFIELD, IL: I LITERALLY COULDN'T PUT DÉJÀ DEAD DOWN! Now that you are published, do you think about writing some other form of literature -- maybe nonfiction?
Kathy Reichs: It's actually going the other direction. I've always done nonfiction. DÉJÀ DEAD was the new genre for me. I just did a case in Springfield, IL.
Audrey from Chicago: Will we be seeing Tempe Brennan again? When?
Kathy Reichs: Yes. The second book will be out in late 98 or 99. I hope the series continues for many books. I'll be in Chicago the 12th, 13th and 14th of September. Chicago, Evanston, and Winnetka bookstores.
Karry from Cape Cod: What did you discover about writing books that you had not anticipated?
Kathy Reichs: It can be very profitable. I hadn't anticipated that. And save your work. I had a major hard drive crash.
Robert Baker from Hartford: How careful did you outline your story line before you sat down to write? Were you surprised by anything about the final version of the book?
Kathy Reichs: I did a chapter by chapter, about one paragraph for each chapter. My original outline had 25 chapters. The final version had 44, so I did a lot of splitting and subdividing. The original chapter outline did not have the final 3 or 4 chapters. I knew where I was going and what the climax scene would be, but left that unstructured.
Laura from Columbus: I was so happy to see a strong female protagonist in DÉJÀ DEAD. Did you decide to create her as a female, or did it just work out that way?
Kathy Reichs: I absolutely set out to create a strong female protagonist.
Jane from Larchmont, NY: Will your book be translated into French?
Kathy Reichs: The book has been sold in 15 languages, including French.
Dave Bryant from Hanhattan: As a scientist and a writer, do you believe in the saying that writers HAVE to write? What would you do if you stopped writing?
Kathy Reichs: Science. I'd focus on science.
Moderator: Thanks so much for answering all of our questions here tonight! Best of luck on your future endeavors! Good night!
Kathy Reichs: Well, thank you for your interest. Good night.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ;)
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.
the best first novel in a series i've ever read, and i've read a lot.
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.
Deja Dead is one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life!
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.
I started it, then it's like it took over. I had trouble putting it down.