Fiction: “Death du Jour” by Kathy Reichs

Another vacation, another long journey; another crime involving decaying bodies and lots of autopsies. (What can I say — I have a pattern.)

Death du Jour is the second novel in the Temperance Brennan series, and honestly, it’s been a pain to get a-hold of. Back when I read Deja Dead, I had taken that and Death du Jour out of the library at the same time. I held onto du Jour for about three weeks after the due date, hoping I’d get to it; I never did. When I went back to the library for A Single Man, I picked up Boomsday and Beat the Reaper and also Alice I Have Been, which I had to return to the library ALONG WITH Death du Jour because I was going on vacation out of town and the due date was while I was gone, and I’m trying to stop accumulating overdue fees.

ANYWAY. So in prep for vacation, I checked all my used bookstores in the area for a copy of du Jour because, after all that, why pay full price? Except none of the used bookstores had a copy, so I went to Border’s anyway.

Yeah. I kinda hate myself a little.

I was hoping to be able to do a massive book post dump upon return, but I only finished this book while I was gone. Weird. (although I do blame the Nintendo DS I bought before the trip a bit. Super Mario Bros. is hard!)

So what’s this one about? Well, while Brennan tries to verify the skeletal remains of a 19th century Quebecois candidate for sainthood, a family is brutally murdered in a northern province and the crime is covered up by arson. The case of the murdered family follows Brennan as she returns to her home in South Carolina (hey, I drove through South Carolina!) after her spring break ends up in Montreal. It turns out there’s a cult operating out of South Carolina, Montreal and Texas and crimes in all three places are connected.

The “It’s All About Me!” isn’t as prevalent as it was in Deja Dead, and definitely not as thick as anything you’d read by Patricia Cornwell. While Brennan is made a target, it’s not like a serial killer is coming after her to get vengeance on her; it’s just that Brennan is tenacious and is getting in the way. And that’s totally different from what happens to Kay Scarpetta in almost every one of her novels.

Unlike Kay Scarpetta or Kinsey Millhone, two other hard-boiled “detectives,” Brennan has relationships filled with emotion. She and her daughter take a weekend vacation together in this book; could you see Kay and Lucy spending quality time together? Brennan also has a cat. And here’s where I give an important word of warning to anyone who decides they want to read this book; in fact, I’m going to do something I try very hard not to do, and I’m going to spoil you.

Brennan has a cat, named Birdie. And there is an attack against Brennan in the book, where, back home in South Carolina, she wakes up to the smell of smoke and gasoline. It appears that the criminals have killed Birdie, and then set him on fire and left it in her house for her to find.

THAT CAT IS NOT BIRDIE. I repeat: while horrible that it was a stray cat, it WAS NOT HER CAT.

I vaguely remember reading this the first time and almost putting the book down right there because you don’t realize it’s not Birdie for a chapter or two. But then Birdie returns and he’s fine. But it sucks when you read it and you think, “My God, who would do that to an animal, and how does someone come back from that?” It was almost enough for me to put the book away and move on to something else. But I wanted to let you guys know that THE CAT IS OKAY if you do want to read it.

Other than that, Death du Jour isn’t very memorable. It’s not supposed to be; it’s supposed to get you through a long road trip through the southern states while you ignore the cramp in your legs from sitting in the back of the van for about fourteen hundred miles.

Grade for Death du Jour: 2 stars

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2 thoughts on “Fiction: “Death du Jour” by Kathy Reichs

  1. I had the same reaction as you to Birdie. I was worried he was going to die in the first book and even looked through the second one to see if he was around (I didn’t see those chapters). So many books I’ve read lately has pets dying.

    I love the TV show and I find sciency stuff like forensic anthropology interesting so I thought I’d really like this series. Nope. This book is the last one I’m reading. It’s mainly the lack of characterization that got to me. I had also just read part of the Sookie Stackhouse series before these and Sookie is such a vibrant personality that I found these books as interesting as reading the phone book in comparison.

  2. Thanks sooo much Alaina – I did get to that part and put the book down. I can go back to it now – yes, HORRIBLE an animal died, but relieved to know it is not Birdie

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