April 7, 2009

Review: The Temperance Brennan series, by Kathy Reichs

Attention Kathy Reichs: I've figured you out. I've been reading your Temperance Brennan series, and I think that I'm ready to take over if you ever get tired of doing them. I might need some help with the forensics, but I've figured out all of the other necessary plot elements:

  • Temperance Brennan must get bonked on the head and knocked unconscious at least once per novel -- but twice must be better. If twice, one incident should occur about a third of the way through the novel, and the other should occur right at the climactic moment. (Lady's skull must be harder than a rock. Or maybe she's just punch-drunk all the time, and that's why the cops don't take her seriously.)

  • Secondary characters should have one physical characteristic or mannerism that is mentioned over and over. Detective Ryan has Very Blue Eyes. Claudel is The Impeccable Dresser. Tempe's sister is The Crazy One. Repeat as necessary.

  • Some wackadoo from Tempe's past will show up in Montreal and take over the guest bedroom. Said guest will then disappear for several days, which Tempe will not notice for those same several days, despite the fact that (a) this always happens, and (b) it is almost always really bad. Like my-best-friend-was-murdered-because-I-thought-she-just-needed-some-space bad.

  • Pattern recognition: thankfully, none appears to be needed! Must be all the concussions.

  • Tempe will know how to solve the mystery -- except that it will be Stuck! In! Her! Subconscious! until about the point that she's actually tied up and hanging on a meathook (or whatever the psycho of the day deems appropriate).

  • Convergent with not being able to remember important things: weird, prophetic dreams that provide clues that the readers can see, but Tempe usually can't.

  • Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

I like these books, mostly. I find all of the forensics stuff fascinating, and the stories themselves are usually quite good. But here's the thing: they are woefully predictable. I read these three right in a row, and I think that was a mistake, because there are definite patterns at play and my brain couldn't help but pick them up after a book or two. If you like mysteries and don't mind gore you might enjoy these books -- just make sure to space them out!


glumpuddle said...

Hahaha, this is good! You are right, there is a Predictable Pattern to these. Same with Patricia Cornwell as well. And neither Kathy R. nor Patty C. are great writers, so I've stopped reading them. Does this make me a Style Nazi? Possibly, but I'm ok with that.

Eva said...

You should watch the TV show Bones instead! It's my favourite-est show ever. :D I read one of Reichs' books after I'd seen some Bones episodes and it made me very, very sad. The show is only loosely based on the books...I think the only thing they get from it is Brennan's name. It's more based on Reichs' life (i.e.: Brennan is a forensic anthropologist and best-selling author) and the script writers' awesome imaginations. And they have lots of consultants to get the science right, including Reichs. :)

Ok, I'm gushing like the fangirl I am, so I'll stop now. But it's an awesome show.

Eva’s latest blog post:“The Bamboo Confessions” and “Andromeda on the Street of Ducklings” (thoughts)

Nicole said...

I so love the show but have not read the books! I think she does a fair amount of being shot at knocked out and otherwise generally endangered, so maybe the show is somewhat realistic to the books. I definitely want to try one eventually.

Nicole’s latest blog post:Congratulations ~Will Marry For Food, Sex & Laundry Winner

Christine said...

Eva -- Oh yeah, I really enjoy Bones -- that's why I read the my first Reichs book, about a year ago. I happened to find another one for $1 -- can't go wrong for a dollar, right? -- which started this current spate of reading. But I think I'm done with Reichs for a while.

Glum -- I'm okay with you being a style Nazi too.

Nicole -- They're definitely worth a shot at reading, but you might end up just liking the show more, however loosely it's based on the novels.

becky said...

That's exactly why I eventually stopped reading Mary Higgins Clark (read them as a teen). I used to overlook the formulas, but find I can't anymore. I would at least prefer a little more variety. I haven't checked out the Reich books, but I do love me some Bones watchin'.

becky’s latest blog post:Used and abused

zibilee said...

I haven't read any of these books, but your post cracked me up.

zibilee’s latest blog post:The Neurology of Angels by Krista Tibbs - 284 pages

Mrs. Micah said...

Maybe I also made the mistake of reading them close together. Read the first and said "Eh, it's ok, let's try the second." When I saw the similarities, I said "Nej tak" and switched to someone else. I've thought about rereading, but there are so many other books worth reading that I'm not going to push myself. Plus it's not enough like the show that I could get my fix over the summer. ;)

Mrs. Micah’s latest blog post:Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Kill Myself

Christine said...

They'd be better spaced out for sure. I may yet go back -- but not until I've had a chance to forget the last few!

padyo said...

I've read all her books to date and I must say that they do seem to follow a pattern, as mentioned previously. The only one that I didn't enjoy was Cross Bones.

I've only watched 1 episode of Bones and know that it's very loosely based on the books.

Sandy said...

I am a big fan of Kathy Reichs.I have read all her books and wait anxiously for the next. However Cross Bones I did not enjoy,my first impression was not another Da Vinci Code theme. With her books l usually finish them the same day or night, with this one it took me considerably longer. The reads l most enjoy are when Kathy involves (characters) like her ex,sister,daughter and Ryan. As a result of enjoying her books so much l must say,its hard for me to get into the series.I can't distinguish between the two,I would have liked the series to be more true to the books, ie characters,locations,relationships. So in saying this that would be my 2 cents worth!

Laylah said...

Spot on and amusing! I've read most of the books, enjoyed them, but my goodness the Tempe character is tedious and the patterns are ridiculously obvious. I'm glad they didn't model the Brennan in the series after the Brennan in the books. I'll take the series' slightly autistic scientist over the books' annoyingly annoyed amateur sleuth any day. (What the heck is she so annoyed about all the time? IMHO A churlish damsel in distress is even less appealing than a vapid one. Maybe it's a stand in for strength -- "she must be a strong independent woman, she's stubborn and annoyed by men - see! she doesn't need them....except when she gets bonked on the head again and passes out so she can be rescued without seeming weak.") And yet... I still read them all...

Elizabeth said...

The books are predictable- but who isn't? If we as characters in our own lives weren't predictable we would not have personalities- we would be erratic and scattered. I enjoy both the books and the show. They are different. I have now read all of Kathy R's books and look forward to another- and I am not a huge fiction reader. If you are a style fanatic- look elsewhere- but if you want an enjoyable story with a fun heroine who is down to earth- then here you are. If you love the show, at least read ONE book. Give the author some credit.

Laylah said...

I'm revising my comment. I've now finished reading all but the very last book and she addressed a lot of my concerns in the later books. I think they've definitely improved and I would still recommend the books.