Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs: Book Review

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Cover of Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

4 Stars

It’s impossible (for me, anyway) to read a forensic mystery without comparing it to the Scarpetta novels. This one was awesome! I haven’t read a forensic science mystery this good since the early Scarpettas!

These novels are the basis for the TV series, Bones. I’ve never watched that show, so I didn’t come into this with any expectations and I can’t compare the book to the show. But the book by itself was really good. This is the first in a series featuring Dr. Temperance Brennan. She’s a forensic anthropologist who has just relocated full-time to Montreal. The book opens with Tempe being called out to a scene to decide if bones found by city maintenance are old, archaeological-find-bones or new, current-crime-that-needs-to-be-investigated bones. To paraphrase the book, “Old bones don’t smell.”

The science in the book was fascinating and–I’m assuming because the author is herself a forensic anthropologist–authentic. The characters, especially Tempe, are well-drawn, complex, and interesting. The plot started out a little bit slow, but once it took off, I couldn’t put it down. I took it with me to an optometrist visit and didn’t even notice that I spent two hours in the doctor’s office!

My only complaint is that some stuff seemed really obvious to me. Not everything, just some things, but they were kind of big things. I kept wondering, “Am I really supposed to have figured this out already for some reason? Or is Tempe really that clueless sometimes?” I am not a person who figures out Agatha Christie mysteries before Poirot reveals the solution. I read a mystery and I’m surprised at the end. For me to figure out something in a mystery before it’s spelled out to me is very unusual. This didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the book. In fact, it was kind of nice to know something that the main character didn’t for a change! This is Kathy Reichs’ first book, so this could just be a beginner thing. Maybe it’s fixed in later novels. Oh, and I thought the title was cheesy. It’s explained toward the end of the book, but I still think it’s cheesy.

I still highly recommend this to mystery fans, especially fans of Scarpetta and probably all those CSI shows.

Reviewed March 8, 2008

Read an excerpt.

Find author Kathy Reichs on her website, her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Read more reviews at Always With a Book, Reading With Tequila, and S. Krishna’s Books.

If you like Déjà Dead, you might also like Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, In the Forest of Harm by Sallie Bissell, and The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver.

Buy Déjà Dead at

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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