Sunday, March 26, 2006

From my Audio Shelves..........

Over the past two years I have developed an appreciation for audio books. Of course, I've always enjoyed them in the car, and have checked them out at the local library to listen to during my drive time. But since I've gone back to work full time I have discovered how much enjoyment it can be to listen to them at work, while keying. I have started purchasing audio books of all genres on cassette, cd and MP3, usually from ebay. I won't spend more than just a few bucks on one, and I consider it money well-spent. I have built up quite a library at work that I have made available to the other members of my team. They call me the librarian there.

So I am going to write about one of my audio books..............

DEJA DEAD by Kathy Reichs

My copy of DEJA DEAD on audio is an unabridged copy on cassette and is read by Amy Irving. DEJA DEAD, published in 1997 by Scribner (paperback in 1998 by Pocket Books; audio book in 1997 by Simon & Schuster Audio) is the first novel published by Dr. Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Medecine Legale for the province of Quebec. She is also an anthropology proffesser.

The main character of DEJA DEAD is Dr. Temperance Brennan, a character fashioned after Dr. Kathy Reichs, herself. If you like watching CSI and like reading books that are like CSI, then you will love DEJA DEAD; and you will develop an affection for Tempe Brennan. She is a believable character and the plot line is detailed, exciting, just a little bit "gross"; just like CSI, only you get the descriptions of what they're working with in detail, instead of just seeing quick shots of what is acceptable to show on TV!

We discover that Dr. Tempe Brennan is the mother of a college-age daughter, Katy, and is amicably separated from her husband, Pete. We are also introduced to her cat, Birdie. In the beginning of DEJA DEAD Tempe is planning a June weekend of sightseeing around Montreal, but has to postpone that because she has to examine a body that has just been discovered. The body is on a site where some historical buriels had been found in the past; so initially she is supposed to just determine whether it, too, is an archaeological case or a more recent death that the coroner's office will need to investigate. Well, it is quickly made apparent that the decapitated and badly mutilated corpse is a recent homicide. What's more, there is something about the corpse and the crime scene that is familiar to Tempe. As the investigation continues she begins to suspect a serial killer.

It is very amazing to me how many details of a person can be learned from just examining small bits of evidence. Tempe finally establishes the identity of this victim. During the investigation Tempe has to battle to convince the Montreal police, and one inspector in particular, that there really is a connection between this victim and victims of other unsolved cases; that there is a serial killer loose in Montreal and that he will kill again.

We are also introduced to Tempe's friend, Gabby, a cultural anthropologist, who is undercover and getting deeply involved in something dangerous, and who is becoming very scared of a possible stalker. When Gabby disappears shortly after alluding to this fear, Tempe is worried at first, and then mostly just annoyed. Gabby has done this type of thing before.

When more evidence turns up pointing to a serial killer, the police finally start to take Tempe seriously. Will it be too late? Will Tempe start to get too close? Will the killer come after her? After Gabby? After Katy?(Well, what do you think?)

I love the details Reichs gives, even the sordid ones! She is a very impassioned storyteller, as well. We enter right into Tempe's frustrations, fears, joys, and sympathies. The storyline keeps the reader gripped right from the beginning; it is a fast, suspenseful, nail-biting ride, with a satisfying end.

The other character we are introduced to is Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan of the Quebec Province Police Force. He is very skillfully woven into the storyline. There is obvious attraction between the two, as well as irritation on Tempe's part with Ryan's reputation as a "lady's man". But the reader must, from the start, take a liking to Andrew Ryan. We look forward to seeing if a relationship will develop and where it may go. While inserting this dynamic into the storyline, Reichs does not turn this into a romance story (although one sees the potential for quite a romance between the two).

DEJA DEAD is the first of several Tempe Brennan novels. I enjoyed it on audio book. Amy Irving did a good job as reader, although on subsequent listenings my opinion changed slightly. (More on that in furture entries.)

Click here for more on Kathy Reichs and her novels.

*Note: This season's new Fox show Bones, is taken from Reichs' books. I have not seen it yet, so I don't know if I'll like it or not. I have a feeling there will be too many things changed for my liking, but I'll give it a try.

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