Quill and Quire


« Back to
Book Reviews

Death Du Jour

by Kathy Reichs

Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs was the first-time crime-novelist sensation of 1997. Her acclaimed debut, Déjà Dead, made the New York Times bestseller list, won the Arthur Ellis Award, and was a bestseller in both Canada and Great Britain.

Like her first book, Reichs’ new novel, Death du Jour, focuses on protagonist Temperance Brennan’s forensic anthropological work to solve heinous crimes – this time the mysterious massacre of an entire family including the apparent human sacrifice of twin baby boys. An interesting subplot involves Brennan’s exhumation and identification of the relics of a Québécoise nun nominated for sainthood.

The plot of Death du Jour is highly satisfying. Its events are based in contemporary, living reality (the Solar Temple cult, the Branch Davidians, the McGill Faculty of Religious Studies, and the ice storm all appear here), which serves to heighten the mystery and pathos, despite the story’s formulaic structure. Readers of Déjà Dead will find a slightly altered Temperance Brennan – one who is more multifaceted, more human, but in these respects more annoying than the hard-bitten überwoman of the first book.

She still loves her plump cat, Birdy, and is torn between her love for her ex-husband, her desire to be alone, and her attraction to the sexy Detective Ryan. But absent are her endearing toughness and obsession with scientific methods that made the first novel so compelling. Now Brennan seems more interested in her college-age daughter’s dating than in the crimes she is investigating.

On that front, the struggle once again takes on a personal dimension. In both books, Brennan is paired with a woman who is a flaky 1960s exile who gets wrapped up in whatever crimes are under investigation. In Death du Jour, it is Brennan’s Texan sister, a puzzling but entertaining character who lands on Brennan’s doorstep in Montreal to attend a New Age workshop. If it weren’t for Reichs’ excellent control of tempo and plot, Death du Jour would be a case of déjà vu.


Reviewer: Kathleen Hickey

Publisher: Scribner/Distican


Price: $37

Page Count: 384 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-684-84118-5

Released: June

Issue Date: 1999-4

Categories: Fiction: Novels