The raves are in -- from Edgar-winning authors and internationally acclaimed forensic experts: Kathy Reichs and Déjà Dead are something special.
Rarely has a debut crime novel inspired such widespread excitement. A born storyteller, Dr. Kathy Reichs walks in the steps of her heroine, Dr. Temperance Brennan. She spends her days in the autopsy suite, the courtroom, the crime lab, with cops, and at exhumation sites. Often her long days turn into harrowing nights.
It's June in Montreal, and Tempe, who has left a shaky marriage back home in North Carolina to take on the challenging assignment of director of forensic anthropology for the province of Quebec, looks forward to a relaxing weekend.
First, though, she must stop at a newly uncovered burial site in the heart of the city. One look at the decomposed and decapitated corpse, stored neatly in plastic bags, tells her she'll spend the weekend in the crime lab. This is homicide of the worst kind. To begin to find some answers, Tempe must first identify the victim. Who is this person with the reddish hair and a small bone structure?
Showing 1-7 of the 7 most recent reviews
1 . as a first time reader i loved it
Posted June 10, 2011 by dennis becraft , rome n.y.i started watching bones on netflix and wondered who wrote the book.So when i found out who i started to read this book and was realy shocked that i would like it.Now that i have read thjs first book i can't waint to read the next and the next and all of her books .Thank you for the great reading.
2 . Pure addiction!!!
Posted October 21, 2010 by Abby , Vancouver, BCI have become addicted to Kathy Reichs novels! I couldn't put it down...my eyes got sore from reading so fast! Most story tellers leave a clue as to "who did it" but I was totally blindsided by this one!!! Excellent book...really enjoyed this story and will be looking for more of this author's books
3 . Go Kathy Reichs!!!!
Posted October 12, 2010 by Katie , Sharpsburg, GaTempe is an great character, but Reichs is an AMAZING author!!! I could not put the book down. She kept me hooked to the last page. Can't wait to start the next one
4 . Yay! for Kathy Reichs!
Posted March 05, 2010 by JMcClellan , Huntsville, ALThis book was an excellent read and was hard to put down. Can't wait to start reading the next book!
5 . My first Kathy Reichs book, but not my last
Posted January 03, 2010 by James , CanadaI'm not a huge reader, and many books I start don't keep my interest long enough to finsih them. This kept me going so much so that I didn't want to put it down. I'm looking forward to the next book in the Temeperance Brennan series.
6 . Better than Scarpetta!
Posted October 15, 2009 by Janis , Carbon Canyon, CAGreat series, interesting, good characters. Better than Scarpetta series by far!!!
7 . First Bones
Posted May 28, 2009 by Jim Magill , BellevueStarts slow but picks up to a thrilling ending
May 29, 1998
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Excerpt from Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
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 confirm identity. The coroner would be pleased.
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 Medecine Legale 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 Francais Quebecois. 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.
When summer arrives in Montreal it flounces in like a rumba dancer: all ruffles and bright cotton, with flashing thighs and sweat-slicked skin. It is a ribald celebration that begins in June and continues until September.
The season is embraced and relished. Life moves into the open. After the long, bleak winter, outdoor cafes reappear, cyclists and Rollerbladers compete for the bike paths, festivals follow quickly one after another on the streets, and crowds turn the sidewalks into swirling patterns.
How different summer on the St. Lawrence is from summer in my home state of North Carolina, where languid lounging on beach chairs, mountain porches, or suburban decks marks the season, and the lines between spring, summer, and fall are difficult to determine without a calendar. This brash vernal rebirth, more than the bitterness of winter, had surprised me my first year in the North, banishing the homesickness I'd felt during the long, dark cold.
These thoughts were drifting through my mind as I drove under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and turned west onto Viger. I passed the Molson brewery, which sprawled along the river to my left, then the round tower of the Radio-Canada Building, and thought of the people trapped inside: occupants of industrial apiaries who undoubtedly craved release as much as I did. I imagined them studying the sunshine from behind glass rectangles, longing for boats and bikes and sneakers, checking their watches, bitten by June.
I rolled down the window and reached for the radio.
Gerry Boulet sang "Les Yeux du Coeur." I translated automatically in my mind. I could picture him, an intense man with dark eyes and a tangle of curls flying around his head, passionate about his music, dead at forty-four.
Historic burials. Every forensic anthropologist handles these cases. Old bones unearthed by dogs, construction workers, spring floods, grave diggers. The coroner's office is the overseer of death in Quebec Province. If you die inappropriately, not under the care of a physician, not in bed, the coroner wants to know why. If your death threatens to take others along, the coroner wants to know that. The coroner demands an explanation of violent, unexpected, or untimely death, but persons long gone are of little interest. While their passings may once have cried out for justice, or heralded warning of an impending epidemic, the voices have been still for too long. Their antiquity established, these finds are turned over to the archaeologists. This promised to be such a case. Please.
I zigzagged through the logjam of downtown traffic, arriving within fifteen minutes at the address LaManche had given me. Le Grand Seminaire. A remnant of the vast holdings of the Catholic Church, Le Grand Seminaire occupies a large tract of land in the heart of Montreal. Centre-ville. Downtown. My neighborhood. The small, urban citadel endures as an island of green in a sea of high-rise cement, and stands as mute testimony to a once-powerful institution. Stone walls, complete with watchtowers, surround somber gray castles, carefully tended lawns, and open spaces gone wild.
In the glory days of the church, families sent their sons here by the thousands to train for the priesthood. Some still come, but their numbers are few. The larger buildings are now rented out and house schools and institutions more secular in mission where the Internet and fax machine replace Scripture and theological discourse as the working paradigm. Perhaps it's a good metaphor for modern society. We're too absorbed in communicating among ourselves to worry about an almighty architect.
I stopped on a small street opposite the seminary grounds and looked east along Sherbrooke, toward the portion of the property now leased by Le College de Montreal. Nothing unusual. I dropped an elbow out the window and peered in the opposite direction. The hot, dusty metal seared the skin on my inner arm, and I retracted it quickly, like a crab poked with a stick.
There they were. Juxtaposed incongruously against a medieval stone tower, I could see a blue-and-white patrol unit with POLICE-COMMUNAUTE URBAINE DE MONTREAL written on its side. It blocked the western entrance to the compound. A gray Hydro-Quebec truck was parked just ahead of it, ladders and equipment protruding like appendages to a space station. Near the truck a uniformed officer stood talking with two men in work clothes.
I turned left and slid into the westbound traffic on Sherbrooke, relieved to see no reporters. In Montreal an encounter with the press can be a double ordeal, since the media turn out in both French and English. I am not particularly gracious when badgered in one language. Under dual assault I can become downright surly.
LaManche was right. I'd come to these grounds the previous summer. I recalled the case -- bones unearthed during the repair of a water main. Church property. Old cemetery. Coffin burials. Call the archaeologist. Case closed. Hopefully, this report would read the same.
As I maneuvered my Mazda ahead of the truck and parked, the three men stopped talking and looked in my direction. When I got out of the car the officer paused, as if thinking it over, then moved toward me. He was not smiling. At 4:15 P.M. it was probably past the end of his shift and he didn't want to be there. Well, neither did I.
"You'll have to move on, madame. You may not park here." As he spoke he gestured with his hand, shooing me in the direction in which I was to depart. I could picture him clearing flies from potato salad with the same movement.
"I'm Dr. Brennan," I said, slamming the Mazda door. "Laboratoire de Medecine Legale."
"You're the one from the coroner?" His tone would have made a KGB interrogator sound trusting.
"Yes. I'm the anthropologiste judiciaire." Slowly, like a second-grade teacher. "I do the disinterments and the skeletal cases. I understand this may qualify for both?"
I handed him my ID. A small, brass rectangle above his shirt pocket identified him as Const. Groulx.
He looked at the photo, then at me. My appearance was not convincing. I'd planned to work on the skull reconstruction all day, and was dressed for glue. I was wearing faded brown jeans, a denim shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbows, Topsiders, no socks. Most of my hair was bound up in a barrette. The rest, having fought gravity and lost, spiraled limply around my face and down my neck. I was speckled with patches of dried Elmer's. I must have looked more like a middle-aged mother forced to abandon a wallpaper project than a forensic anthropologist.
He studied the ID for a long time, then returned it without comment. I was obviously not what he wanted.
"Have you seen the remains?" I asked.
"No. I am securing the site." He used a modified version of the hand flip to indicate the two men who stood watching us, conversation suspended.
"They found it. I called it in. They will lead you."
I wondered if Constable Groulx was capable of a compound sentence. With another hand gesture, he indicated the workers once again.
"I will watch your car."
I nodded but he was already turning away. The Hydro workers watched in silence as I approached. Both wore aviator shades, and the late afternoon sun shot orange beams off alternating lenses as one or the other moved his head. Their mustaches looped in identical upside- down U's around their mouths.
The one on the left was the older of the two, a thin, dark man with the look of a rat terrier. He was glancing around nervously, his gaze bouncing from object to object, person to person, like a bee making sorties in and out of a peony blossom. His eyes kept darting to me, then quickly away, as if he feared contact with other eyes would commit him to something he'd later come to regret. He shifted his weight from foot to foot and hunched and unhunched his shoulders.
His partner was a much larger man with a long, lank ponytail and a weathered face. He smiled as I drew near, displaying gaps that once held teeth. I suspected he'd be the more loquacious of the two.
"Bonjour. Comment ca va?" The French equivalent of "Hi. How are you?"
"Bien. Bien." Simultaneous head nods. Fine. Fine.
I identified myself, asked if they'd reported finding the bones. More nods.
"Tell me about it." As I spoke I withdrew a small spiral notebook from my backpack, flipped back the cover, and clicked a ballpoint into readiness. I smiled encouragingly.
Ponytail spoke eagerly, his words racing out like children released for recess. He was enjoying the adventure. His French was heavily accented, the words running together and the endings swallowed in the fashion of the upriver Quebecois. I had to listen carefully.
"We were clearing brush, it's part of our job." He pointed at overhead power lines, then did a sweep of the ground. "We must keep the lines clear."
"When I got down into that trench over there" -- he turned and pointed in the direction of a wooded area running the length of the property -- "I smelled something funny." He stopped, his eyes locked in the direction of the trees, arm extended, index finger piercing the air.
He turned back. "Well, not exactly funny." He paused, sucking in his lower lip as he searched his personal lexicon for the right word. "Dead," he said. "You know, dead?"
I waited for him to go on.
"You know, like an animal that crawls in somewhere and dies?" He gave a slight shrug of the shoulders as he said it, then looked at me for confirmation. I did know. I'm on a first-name basis with the odor of death. I nodded again.
"That's what I thought. That a dog, or maybe a raccoon, died. So I started poking around in the brush with my rake, right where the smell was real strong. Sure enough, I found a bunch of bones." Another shrug.
"Uh-huh." I was beginning to get an uneasy feeling. Ancient burials don't smell.
"So I called Gil over . . ." He looked to the older man for affirmation. Gil was staring at the ground. ". . . and we both started digging around in the leaves and stuff. What we found don't look like no dog or raccoon to me." As he said it he folded his arms across his chest, lowered his chin, and rocked back on his heels.
"Why is that?"
"Too big." He rolled his tongue and used it to probe one of the gaps in his dental work. The tip appeared and disappeared between the teeth like a worm testing for daylight.
"What do you mean?" The worm withdrew.
"Did you find anything besides bones?"
"Yeah. That's what don't seem right." He spread his arms wide, indicating a dimension with his hands. "There's a big plastic sack around all this stuff, and . . ." He shrugged, turning his palms up and leaving the sentence unfinished.
"And?" My uneasiness was escalating.
"Une ventouse." He said it quickly, embarrassed and excited at the same time. Gil was traveling with me, his apprehension matching mine. His eyes had left the ground and were roving in double time.
"A what?" I asked, thinking perhaps I'd misunderstood the word.
"Une ventouse. A plunger. For the bathroom." He imitated its use, his body thrust forward, hands wrapped around an invisible handle, arms driving upward and downward. The macabre little pantomime was so out of context it was jarring.
Gil let out a "Sacre . . ." and locked his eyes back on to the earth. I just stared at him. This wasn't right. I finished my notes and closed the spiral.
"Is it wet down there?" I didn't really want to wear the boots and coveralls unless it was necessary.
"Nah," he said, again looking to Gil for confirmation. Gil shook his head, eyes never leaving the dirt at his feet.
"Okay," I said. "Let's go." I hoped that I appeared calmer than I felt.
Ponytail led the way across the grass and into the woods. We descended gradually into a small ravine, the trees and brush growing thicker as we approached the bottom. I followed into the thicket, taking the larger branches in my right hand as he bent them back for me, then handing them off to Gil. Still small branches tugged at my hair. The place smelled of damp earth, grass, and rotting leaves. Sunlight penetrated the foliage unevenly, dappling the ground with puzzle piece splotches. Here and there a beam found an opening and sliced straight through to the ground. Dust particles danced in the slanted shafts. Flying insects swarmed around my face and whined in my ears, and creepers grabbed my ankles.
At the bottom of the trench the worker stopped to get his bearings, then turned to the right. I followed, slapping at mosquitoes, handing off vegetation, squinting through clouds of gnats around my eyes, and the occasional loner that went straight for the cornea. Sweat beaded my lip and dampened my hair, plastering the escapee strands to my forehead and neck. I needn't have worried about my dress or coiffure.
Fifteen yards from the corpse I no longer needed a guide. Blending with the loamy scent of woods and sunlight I detected the unmistakable smell of death. The odor of decomposing flesh is like no other, and it hung there in the warm afternoon air, faint but undeniable. Step by step, the sweet, fetid stench grew stronger, building in intensity like the whine of a locust, until it ceased blending, and overpowered all other smells. The aromas of moss and humus and pine and sky deferred to the rankness of rotting flesh.
Gil stopped and hung back at a discreet distance. The smell was enough. He didn't need another look. Ten feet farther the younger man halted, turned, and wordlessly pointed to a small heap partially covered by leaves and debris. Flies buzzed and circled around it, like academics at a free buffet.
At the sight my stomach went into a tuck, and the voice in my head started in on "I told you so." With growing dread, I placed my pack at the base of a tree, withdrew a pair of surgical gloves, and picked my way gingerly through the foliage. When I neared the mound I could see where the men had raked away the vegetation. What I saw confirmed my fears.
Protruding from the leaves and soil was an arcade of ribs, their ends curving upward like the framework of an embryonic boat. I bent down for a closer look. Flies whined in protest, the sun iridescent on their blue-green bodies. When I cleared more debris I could see that the ribs were held in place by a segment of spinal column.
Taking a deep breath, I eased on the latex gloves and began to remove handfuls of dead leaves and pine needles. As I exposed the backbone to the sunlight, a knot of startled beetles flew apart. The bugs disentangled themselves and scuttled outward, disappearing one by one over the vertebral edges.
Ignoring the insects, I continued to remove sediment. Slowly, carefully, I cleared an area approximately three feet square. In less than ten minutes I could see what Gil and his partner had discovered. Brushing hair from my face with a latexed hand, I leaned back on my heels and surveyed the emerging picture.
I looked at a partially skeletonized torso, the rib cage, backbone, and pelvis still connected by dried muscle and ligament. While connective tissue is stubborn, refusing to yield its hold on the joints for months or years, the brain and internal organs are not so tenacious. With the aid of bacteria and insects, they decompose quickly, sometimes in a matter of weeks.
I could see remnants of brown and desiccated tissue clinging to the thoracic and abdominal surfaces of the bones. As I squatted there, the flies buzzing and the sunlight dappling the woods around me, I knew two things with certainty. The torso was human, and it hadn't been there long.
I knew also that its arrival in that place wasn't by chance. The victim had been killed and dumped. The remains lay on a plastic bag, the common kitchen variety used for garbage. It was ripped open now, but I guessed the bag had been used to transport the torso. The head and limbs were missing, and I could see no personal effects or objects close by. Except one.
The bones of the pelvis encircled a bathroom plunger, its long wooden handle projecting upward like an inverted Popsicle stick, its red rubber cup pressed hard against the pelvic outlet. Its position suggested deliberate placement. Gruesome as the idea was, I didn't believe the association was spurious.