March 17, 2015

Book Review || Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs

I'm an enormous fan of the television series 'Bones' but have never ventured into reading the novels upon which the series is based. Having found the first in the series hidden away on a top shelf in one of my favourite second-hand book stores, I decided there was no time like the present.

In 'Déjà Dead' we meet forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan for the first time as she becomes more seriously involved in solving a murder case. She is the only person to connect several violent crimes against women to one perpetrator but she is frustrated in a police world dominated by men who disregard her hunches and at times completely write off her ideas and insight. In the end the battle to discover the serial murderer becomes intensely personal for her, and she shows how valuable she is to the detectives on the case, even if they won't admit it.

Having seen the character on television, I found this Temperance Brennan much more likeable right from the bat. In the series, she seems cold and emotionless and it is only later that we become acquainted to the reasoning for her coldness. However, in this novel she is much more easy to relate to.

I don't recall if Brennan in the television series had to deal with the same amount of sexism in her job and so found the novel more interesting with its inclusion. Brennan is looked down upon not because of what she does but because of what she is. She is called names by detectives behind her back and her hunches are constantly ridiculed. It is even implied that she is being the typical overreacting, hysterical woman.

This misogynistic undertone is perhaps necessary to emphasise the tone of the violence towards and hatred of the women who are killed in the novel. I would even go so far as to suggest that the novel points out how thin the line can be between simply denigrating women through words and actions and actually making that hatred a physical, violent sport.

Although I found the relentless detail in the novel annoying at times - expect an outline of every move Temperance makes - that same detail helps to construct the rich sensual world Brennan finds herself in, while the medical details are informative and give flavour to Brennan's trade. Reichs' red herrings throughout the novel are also excellent at making this a read I found difficult to put down, echoing Minette Walters' testimonial on the front cover of my edition.

I thorougly enjoyed this novel and you will too if you're a stickler for attention to detail, love to read a character who is real and intelligent to boot, want your sleuth-self to be sincerely challenged, and would like some insight into the world of a forensic anthropologist - it's people like this who are solving crimes and saving lives every day.

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