Review: Déjà Dead

Written by Kathy Reichs

From Kathy Reichs’s website:

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…

What I loved.

  • gripping psychological thrillers
  • the character who inspired TV’s Bones
  • a heroine straddling two worlds.

My Review

What I loved.

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

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.

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 I didn’t love.

This book was published in 1997, as because of this, the technology is a bit dated. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but when you come to a book like this with the expectation of CSI, NCIS, Forensic Files, and other forensic shows, waiting for results seem to take much longer. But it’s a credit to her story-telling that Ms. Reichs makes a slow photoshop exercise in the 1990s gripping, when it otherwise could have been a long wait. 

If you’re looking for the Temperance Brenna from Bones though, you won’t get her. Tempe is as warm as her southern author. This isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re not expecting it, you might be thrown off. 

My Analysis


1st, close past, Temperance Brennan.


External: Thriller
Global Values: Damnation / Life
Core Need: Safety
Core Emotion: Excitement

Internal: Worldview – Disillusion
Global Values: Ignorance to Wisdom
Core Emotion: Satisfaction or Pity

Controlling idea:  Damnation or death triumphs if the protagonist fails to release their gift in time.


Violence: high.
Gore: high.
Romance/Sex: limited, but graphic with respect to the crimes.
Series: Dead Series, first in series.
Reality Clover: Reality.

Reference Info: