Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review - Deja Dead

Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

Downloaded from Audible
Narrated by: Barbara Rosenblat

Why? this past year I've been disappointed in a couple of series I've loyally read for several years...(James Patterson's Women's Murder Club and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum)...and one of my favorites is coming to an end Summer 2012 (Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse).  
I decided to spend some times "researching" three other series I thought I might like to get into next.   Besides Kathy Reichs' Temperence Brennan series, I also looked into Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles as well as Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta novels.  I read a few reviews for each series, and I even watched the pilot episodes of both the Reichs and Gerritsen books.  I was immediately drawn to Bones but not so much to Rizzoli and Isles, so I decided to push Gerritsen to the back burner (for now) and chose Tempe Brennan as my next smart girl heroine :)  
Stephanie Plum better get with it...
or else :p

What Now? This series makes me think...and it makes me ever so thankful that professionals like Temperence Brennan really exist and have the thinking skills as well as the book knowledge to solve these crimes, sometimes using only leftovers (ahem, human leftovers) as evidence.  
On to book 2 :)

Why Audiobook format?  I started off reading Deja Dead on my Nook...but I had to keep forcing myself to read.  How could I like a tv series so much and have such a difficult time getting into the books the show was based on??
You see why I have the rule about reading first??

The first book takes place in Montreal and Quebec, and much of the language is tinged with French phrases, names, etc. I have absolutely nill background about this area of the world.  The science is also about as steep as it can get.  All that together made me almost feel dumb.  I think it overwhelmed me. 

I blamed myself rather than the book and decided I would give it one last shot...but instead of going back to my Nook, I took the plunge and downloaded it to Audible.  
Audiobooks are expensive.  Period.  
I'm one of those folks who loves to buy books...and even after I've listened to an audiobook or read a book via one of my electronic devices (Nook, Kindle, Iphone, etc.), I sometimes still want to buy the paper copy...especially if the book ranks up there with the other keepers I have on the shelves of my antique secretary.  The audiobooks I've listened to in my car end up being on clearance at BAM or Barnes and Noble or checked out from the library.  I mean, really, have you seen the prices on brand new audiobook selections??  I don't mind paying hardback prices for books...but not for CD's of the book when there's a possibility I'm gonna turn around and buy the book anyway.
With Audible, I pay a certain fee per month and can download audiobooks at discounted prices.  With each purchase, I also earn points that can be used toward my next purchase.  
Much, much more affordable.


Temperence Brennan is a forensic anthropologist at the Laboratoire de Medecine Legale.  On top of the highly specialized job of identifying human remains, Tempe is incredibly smart, incredibly successful, has a college aged daughter, an ex-husband (divorced barely a year) and is a recovering alcoholic.  

In Deja Dead, through her own work, plus assisting her longstanding friend Gabby with an anthropological project among prostitutes, Tempe stumbles into a serial murder investigation.
Tempe puts clues together but is forced to run those clues through a group of male detectives who are anything but happy that she's stepped up to the plate, especially one older detective named Charboneau who seems to think women are better in the kitchen and at home than working on a murder investigation.  

As Temperence begins to unravel the clues, the killer begins to lose concentration on his victims and turns his sights on Tempe herself.  

What I Liked 

Tempe - how can you not like this woman.  Her life is not perfect, and she doesn't pretend nor strive for it to be.  She is a mom, a professional, a woman, a friend, a person.  Tempe is tough but also vulnerable...She wants a drink, but remembers why she can't even dance one dance with that particular devil.
Even though a drink would help for the moment, the morning after always comes...and it's not worth it.

She loves her daughter Katy fiercely but knows Katy has some decisions to make and that Katy will most likely make those decisions on her own. Tempe lives with and loves her cat Birdie :)  She loves and appreciates Birdie for his independence and only a genuine cat lover can.

Tempe cares for her ex-husband Pete (more for the happier times from  their life together than the present, but she still cares). Tempe knows that she and Pete don't really belong together; their lives are different now, and their relationship changed before the marriage was over.

Plus, when he's not getting on her nerves, Detective Ryan really looks nice in those 501's he wears :)

Tempe loves Gabby...and accepts her for who she is...even when Gabby gets on Tempe's nerves.  Tempe even loves Gabby enough to know that she can't keep rescuing her every time she gets herself in trouble...and most importantly, like Katy, Gabby is a grown woman and will choose her own path in life and will take her own risks, no matter what Tempe suggests.

Last but not least, Tempe cares for the people whose bones she identifies...she wants their families to have some closure...some kind of peace.  While it's her job to put up walls and sometimes anesthetize herself from what she sees, she can't help but feeling emotional for those who've been left behind.

And, most importantly (to me anyway), Tempe is not whiny about ANY of these things.  
Life is what it is.  And, Tempe Brennan lives it.  

The science - whoa Nelly...I think one of the reasons I like the science is bc I really have to pay attention...if I'm trying to get my mind off something (driving back and forth somewhere day after day, the crappy day at work I just had, a monotonous day's routine, etc.), I plug the earphones in and I'm gone.  My brain is racing to keep up. 

The suspense - I never knew who the killer was until the killer was a matter of fact, I didn't have a clue.  My heart raced at times, anticipating the killer's next move...and then it wouldn't happen.  Instead of being disappointed, I was relieved.  My fear level rose immensely when the killer finally made his final move, and I could barely breathe until the scene was over.
Now, THAT is a a series that's worthy of my time :)

What I Didn't Like

The science - for example, there was one place in the audio where Tempe discussed the different kinds of cuts made by saws...she calls a saw expert and for page after page they talked about various saws, their individual teeth, what kinds of pressure it takes to move the saws, the motions, the grooves, the way the cut, groove and pressure affect the bone....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Oh, sorry :p
I'm not exaggerating, folks...Kathy Reichs is all about some scientific detail.  It's incredibly exciting and challenging most of the time, but it can also leave you behind if you're, let's say, not a saw afficianado ;)


I listened to the first chapters in the regular paced audio speed, but once I got used to the words, the surroundings and the accent, I sped her up :)  The voice was not distorted at all, just a little less time between the pauses.  Perfect.  
I knew from the first few minutes of the audio that I would be ok with this narrator; her accent is flawless and sounds original...her French impeccable where French phrases were used for effect...I even found myself near the end picking up on nuances and noticing words in French that were similar to English words.  
She switched voices between gruff male detectives, Tempe herself, her friend Gabby, the prostitutes Gabby was working with, Tempe's daughter Katy, the villain in the heat of a kill, etc. with ease.  The dialogue was very easy to follow and kept me on the edge of my seat.  

Overall Recommendation

1.  Do NOT read the Kathy Reichs series expecting Temperence Brennan on television to be Temperence Brennan in the books.  The name is just about the only similarity between the two characters, that and the fact that they are both forensic anthropologists.

2.  If you are tired of the same old formulaic, no brainer detective/mystery stuff, and want something to challenge your sleuthing abilities as well as question whether or not you took enough science classes in high school, this is your series.  


  1. I have long wondered if this is a series I would like, and based on your awesome and very thoughtful review, I think I need to take a chance on it. While I am not so interested in the science of saws, I do think that there is a lot to intrigue me in this series, and I am also surprised that the television series is so different than the books. You've made the process of selecting my next audio download very easy with this review. Excellent job today!

  2. I think the TV series creators did a huge disservice by keeping their character named Temperance Brennan. The only things the books and show have in common is they focus on a Temperance Brennan who is a forensic anthropologist, as you mentioned. I love the book series, and started reading them before I connected the show to the books (back when it was only 1 season in). While the show is good, I had too much mental rage about the naming. The show I think should be better described as being inspired by Kathy Reichs herself.

  3. I do love the tv series Bones and keep saying I need to read the books based upon the novels ~ your review just reinforces that thought for me, even though Temperence is not the same in the books as the tv character Bones. I like an original, uniquely unsolvable suspense novel and think this series will fit that bill.  I also agree with your assessment of Audible - whew, if I purchased outright all of the audiobooks I listen to, I would be so broke! Audible helps with that particular fix I need!

  4. the show is a little more predictable than the books...of course, the producers only have 45 minutes to get all the clues covered + the inevitable drama of course but I like both :)  I hesitated on Audible for a while but am glad I finally gave in.  

  5. I think that same block was what kept me from connecting to the book at first...I'm still on season 2 of the tv series and I'm to the point that I don't even think of them as the same story anymore...I wonder if the name thing is why Booth calls her Bones instead of Temperence?  And, the rest of the cast calls her Brennan or Dr. Brennan when in the books, her name is most of the time Tempe...

  6. LOL, the detail is what is sooo impressive...while not exactly up my alley, it is so cool that there are people out there who know all this stuff and can put bones, bodies, scenarios together...give it a try :)

  7. You had me after the first two lines - I'm a big fan of and I loved Barbara Rosenblat's narration in The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I'm terrible with series, but this does sound like one I'd enjoy.

  8. I'm ready for the 3rd book in the Temperence Brennan series, but the unabridged version is not available on Audible (or anywhere else for that matter) so I've been looking for my next just gave it to me! Thanks! :

  9. Since you like to read, I wondered if you might be
    interested in finding out more about cryptic crosswords.  This is a link to a post I did recently which
    looked particularly at clues that involved anagrams.
    Cryptic Crosswords - Anagrams

  10. I really do think Audible is the way to go with audiobooks, and supplementing with the library (which often lacks selection) and their frequent sales.

    If you're looking for a series, I've heard good things about Karin Slaughter but I haven't read them myself and I can't think of what her series is.

  11. Audible has a 1/2 price sale going on right now...our library is tiny...I love it simply bc it's a library but our selection of audiobooks is sad.  :( I've heard of Karin Slaughter as well...will have to check into her books.