Kathy Reichs

Death du Jour

Author: Kathy Reichs | Publisher: Arrow Books

On a bitterly cold March night in Montreal, forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan is exhuming the remains of a nun in the grounds of an old church.

Hours later, Tempe is called to the scene of a horrifying arson. A young family has perished, but there is no explanation, no motive, and no witnesses.

From the charred remains of the inferno, to a trail of sinister cult activity, Tempe faces a nerve-shattering case which will test her forensic expertise – and her instinct for survival.

After I read Deja Dead, I was hooked and determined to carry on with the Temperance Brennan series. Although I know I read some of the books many years ago, I couldn’t remember Deja Dead – and Death du Jour didn’t ring much of a bell either!

It could be my imagination, but I felt there was definitely a shift in style between books one and two. Something less fluid in the sentence structure; in Death du Jour the format became jerky and staccato, like a James Patterson or a Dan Brown thriller. There were lots of short sentences and full stops, which gave the appearance of a speeding up in pace. This was the style of writing I remembered of Kathy Reichs, and, while I particularly liked the more descriptive and fluid, languid form of Deja Dead, I didn’t feel the shift was to the book’s disadvantage. It was just different. I would put it down, perhaps, to the writer finding her feet.

The characters, Temperance Brennan, Ryan, and the rest, are familiar as old socks at this point. It was a pleasure to visit with them again and catch up on all their comings and goings, to watch their relationships develop. It is tempting to ascribe an autobiographical cast to small details, like where Brennan lives, her pets, the tone of her relationships, and lends the books a pleasing quasi-realism.

I enjoyed the broadening of landscape in Death du Jour, as the book takes us from Quebec to Tempe’s home town, from an icy winter to the warmth of the deep south. The changes in setting felt as jarring for the reader as for the characters but gave a greater depth to the characters, through the opening up of their worlds. There is a real sense of place in Kathy Reichs’ books, which makes them all the more pleasurable.

The mystery itself is grotesque, emotive and chilling, even a little scary. I loved the tension and suspense, and I thought many of the technical issues I had with the first book (such as introducing the villain right at the end, leaving the reader no opportunity to guess “who dunnit”) were resolved in the second. Again, clearly a writer finding her feet.

Death du Jour is arguably the stronger book, but very different to its predecessor. Either way, I enjoyed it immensely and can’t wait to carry on with the series!

5 Archimedes

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