Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: MORTAL REMAINS by Kathy Reichs

Over the past decade Kathy Reichs (herself an accomplished forensic anthropologist) and her popular heroine Tempe Brennan have leapt towards the head of the class when it comes to forensic thrillers, taking the baton from the likes of Patricia Cornwell and Kay Scarpetta. I have enjoyed several of her books over the years, such as FATAL VOYAGE, MONDAY MOURNING and DEADLY DECISIONS.

In the twelfth in the popular series, Tempe Brennan - who echoes her creator Reichs in that she regularly splits her anthropological duties between Quebec and North Carolina - finds herself following a puzzling trail to Hawaii after a body is discovered in a Canadian lake. The victim of an autoerotic effort gone wrong causes even more consternation when he’s identified as a man who apparently died in Vietnam forty years before. Bodies in Carolina and Hawaii add to the intrigue and muddy the waters, as it becomes apparent someone wants the past to stay well buried.

As well as taking the Brennan show on the road to Hawaii, MORTAL REMAINS continues the evolution of the will they-won’t they, on again-off again relationship between the heroine and Lt-Detective Ryan of the Quebec provincial police, complicated by the clash between each of their daughters. The evolution of the ongoing relationships will probably interest longtime Reichs fans, while they and those new to the author might both be a little underwhelmed by the mystery storyline, which although intriguing is rather 'one note' rather than layered.

There are some twists to the tale, some interesting medical anomalies, and some action-packed moments, but for me they didn't really add much depth, and it felt like Reichs had settled into cruise mode, much like her forensic predecessor Cornwell. The story unfolded, and was a reasonably enjoyable read, but there just didn't seem that much to it, plot or character-wise, or anything to really make it rise above the masses in the crime fiction world.

Overall I would say that MORTAL REMAINS is by no means a classic, but would still be enjoyably readable for Reichs fans.

This book represents 'Hawaii' in my USA Fiction Challenge


  1. I used to read Reichs religiously, buying the books as they were released. But I started waiting until they were available at the library and have now stopped all together (didn't bother with the last one, won't be bothering with this one). I think your 'cruise mode' statement is spot on and I have better books to spend my time reading.

  2. Craig - Thanks for this review. I haven't read Mortal Remains, and I think the reason is that as you point out so well, some authors do achieve a certain pattern and then go on what I call "auto pilot." That makes me lose my interest..

  3. It amazes me how some people can "Put Down" someone's writing so easily. Good, I'm glad you
    have better books to read. I have books as good
    but not better than Kathy Reichs has written. I
    read a large number of authors and find her books
    easier to digest, shall we say.
    Another novelist should stick to her own writing
    and not start reviewing another's efforts. Maybe
    I have experienced life so long I look at someone who dares to review another's work with

  4. All reviewers can do is be honest, express their opinion, and give reasons. I certainly don't think the review is unfair, or that either of Bernadette or Margot's comments (if they are what you are referring to 'anonymous') are in any way out of line or malicious.

  5. i think all the comments are fair and anonymous a reviewrs job is to find the ups and downs but i see where your coming from