Dr Temerance Brennan is the Director of
Forensic Anthropology for the Province of Quebec and an expert in identifying
and establishing the cause of death of ancient remains. Her days are spent digging recovering
decomposed bodies from a variety of exhumation sites all over Canada and the
US. From the mortuary room in the
Laboratoire de Medecine Legale, she takes the reader into the French Quarter of
Montreal on a frigid winter and puts them right there in the frozen ground with
her, gently dusting off the dirt from a human skull.
Her work is practical and detailed,
piecing together the lives of the victims and what brought them to her
table. She has an amazing empathy with
her victims which is neither morbid nor gruesome, but the forensic detail and
the methods she uses to detect how things have happened and why is
fascinating. Perhaps unwidely, and
usually against the advice of the police with whom she demands full disclosure,
she always becomes involved in the
actual investigations of the deaths and is able to draw the reader into her world,
where the dead speak and they demand justice.
Dividing her working career between
Montreal and Carolina, sometimes the discovery of ancient crime prompts new
ones and Tempe is in the thick of it, drawing attention to herself in ways she
is unaware of until the consequences come back to haunt her.
Tempe is a flawed character but
completely focused on her work, scornful of incompetent police forces and
corrupt politicians who do not always want the truth to come out. Fearless but
non emotional, she works meticulously in the name of justice. Her forensic explanations are remarkable in
their detail, and you worry for her as she gets closer to the truth, yet
excited by the prospect of revealing the killer, which is deliciously saved for
the very end.
A damaged soul, academically brilliant
and at the top of her chosen career, with a college aged daughter from a former
marriage, Tempe lives alone with her cat and is successfully conquering a long
battle with alcohol.
In this first story, the bones of a
woman, too decomposed for standard autopsy, are found in the grounds of an
abandoned monastery in Montreal City.
Temperance, who likes to be called Tempe, researches other recent
disappearances and decides there is a serial killer at work butchering young
women, despite the skepticism of Monsieur Claudel, the detective heading the
With her contacts in Quantico,
Virginia, Temperance manages to convince the French Canadian authorities her
theory is real, but in the meantime more deaths are occurring. She throws herself into the evidence
gathering, compiling databases and carrying out her own detailed investigation
byt re-examines the remains from a previous unsolved murder, but as she
compiles the evidence and grows closer to identifying the killer, the
murderer’s attention turns to her.
There are more Temperance
Brennan stories in circulation, all equally enthralling and well worth