Kathy Reichs

Temperance Brennan - Forensic Anthropologist, Quebec, Canada and North Carolina


"Grave Secrets"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer JUN 26, 2002)

Forensic Anthropologist Tempe Brennan has volunteered to go to Guatemala as a temporary consultant to the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation to locate and identify remains that vanished during their Civil War. While she’s there, the local police find a body in a septic tank. Since she wrote a well known paper about identifying bodies found in such a location, they turn to her for help. She identifies the remains as female, but the government takes the bones away before she can complete her observations. She discovers that this woman is the fourth missing in less than a year, leaving the authorities only a handful of clues to use to track down the others and hopefully, their kidnapper.

Read excerptOne of the things I found the most interesting about this book is the skillful interweaving of the plot and the forensic science. Forensic anthropology is fascinating, and Reichs uses the mechanics of it, and how they use the science to re-create crimes and piece together clues to solve the mystery. I especially liked how they rebuilt the girl’s skull from x-rays to give a face to the victim. Without the forensics, this book would not be able to work, since the studying of the clues is what moves the book along. Tempe certainly knows all aspects of her work, and makes for an interesting character because she is not only dedicated to her work, but she is very compassionate, caring for the families as well as the victims. She is thorough and determined, searching through eight septic tanks just in the hope of an extra tooth or some other bit of evidence, certainly an impressive feat. She also has a great sense of humor, a bit sarcastic at time. These aspects of her personality make this book a much better read.

Her sort-of boyfriend Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan is also a great character. A Quebec policeman, he comes down to Guatemala to help her and to be on hand if a certain diplomat who is also a suspect in the case is questioned. He’s likable, despite the fact he is a bit of a ladies' man, and Tempe isn’t sure he’d ever really settle down and be serious with her. He has some competition for her affections --- Sergeant Detective Bartolomé Galiano, who is in charge of the murder investigation, and is the one who asks for her help. He is dedicated to finding the truth, and hasn‘t yet let the pain around him jade him to the point where he no longer cares for the community he is responsible for protecting. He becomes worried about her safety when it becomes apparent that perhaps the murderer is a person in a position of power. The three characters work well together in solving the crime, and both men are so charming that I have no idea how I would have chosen which one to stay with in the end.

Filled with really interesting twists, exciting action and fascinating ways of discovering clues, this book is definitely a must read for fans of writers like Patricia Cornwell.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 136 reviews

Read an excerpt from Grave Secrets at MostlyFiction.com

(Back to Top)

"Déja Dead"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAY 29, 1998)

The jacket cover and all that I read prior to picking up this book compares this writer to Patricia Cornwell. Well, it got my attention and since I've read all of Cornwell's books so far, I was happy to give this one a try.  The main character, Temperance Brennan, is a forensic anthropologist working as a non-native in the province of Quebec, Canada.  Kathy Reichs is herself a forensic anthropologist who works part time in Quebec (and part time in North Carolina). As they say, write what you know! 

The story is on par with Cornwell's novel for technical details.  If I have to crib her on anything it is that I think that the main character goes out on her own too frequently and does not truly worry about her friends enough.   Also, there's a little too much non-cooperation providing motivation for Ms. Brennen to take the (stupid) risks that she does. Well maybe that isn't it either, it's just that not everything hangs together correctly for me.  Nonetheless, it is a compelling read and now that she has established some relations, I expect her future novels to be stronger.  She is good with descriptions using a technique that lets you visualize a similar face, thing or event-- some are a real chuckle, some a little annoying.

  • Amazon reader rating: from 412 reviews

(back to top)

Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Temperance Brennan series: Virals series:


Editor's Note: If you looking for the book series to match the DVD series or vice-versa, please be forewarned that Temperence Brennan seems to live in two different alternate universes and except for the interest in bones, the two are completely different,


(back to top)

Book Marks:


(back to top)

About the Author:

Kathy ReichsKathy Reichs is forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires at de Medecine Legael for the province of Quebec.  She is one of only fifty forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.  A professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. 

Déjà Dead won the The Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel in 1997.

Reichs divides her time between Charlotte and Montreal and is a frequent expert witness in criminal trials.

MostlyFiction.com About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014 MostlyFiction.com