>> Wednesday, October 09, 2013
TITLE: Deadly Decisions
AUTHOR: Kathy Reichs
PUBLISHER: Pocket Star
SETTING: Contemporary Canada (Montreal) and US
TYPE: Suspense / Mystery
SERIES: #3 in the Temperance Brennan series
When innocent blood is spilled, she deciphers the shattering truth it holds.
Nine-year-old Emily Anne Toussaint is fatally shot on a Montreal street. A North Carolina teenager disappears from her home, and parts of her skeleton are found hundreds of miles away. The shocking deaths propel Tempe Brennan from north to south, and deep into a shattering investigation inside the bizarre culture of outlaw motorcycle gangs -- where one misstep could bring disaster for herself or someone she loves.
In this, the third book in the series featuring forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, Montreal is in the grips of an all-out war between outlaw motorcycle clubs. Tempe's first instinct is to think they can just kill each other if they want, but the gangs' activities have a way of drawing in innocents. Tempe's autopsy of a young girl who died when she was caught in the crossfire during a tit-for-tat killing fills her with the need to be involved in the case, and she's seconded into the task force investigating the gangs.
At the same time, all is not well in Tempe's personal life. Andrew Ryan, the cop who's started to become something more than a colleague, has been arrested, and all evidence points to him being a dirty cop. Also, Tempe's nephew Kit has come to stay for a while after a fight with his father. He's obsessed with motorcycles, and Tempe gets really worried when he starts hanging out with some shady characters.
This one did not work for me at all. On the plus side, some of the forensics were interesting, and I was intrigued by some of what I saw of Claudel (Ryan's now-former partner, whom Tempe has always found rigid and unbending). We see some humanity there, and I'm hoping there will be more developments there. Other than that, nothing.
The "case" the plot concentrates on was a bust for me. We've all got our preferences when it comes to mystery or suspense plots, and in my case, I tend to stay away from stuff revolving around organised crime. I tend to prefer more of a whodunnit, or even a "howdunnit", which the plot here really wasn't. It's all about a bunch of nasty, brutish, stupid men behaving brutally, and I hated every minute spent with them. All I could think about was all these "motorcycle club" romances that have been coming out lately, and I honestly don't see the fascination. The investigation itself felt amorphous and unfocused, and therefore unsatisfying. Although Tempe has a couple of concrete cases she's looking into, it's never clear what would be accomplished by solving them. The bigger picture was too big, and there was no real resolution at the end of the book.
It was, however, the more personal that had me almost not finishing the book. Reichs has always had a tendency in this series to rely on Tempe behaving in incredibly stupid ways to move the plot where it needs to go, and there was a lot of that here. First there's the the way she deals with what Kit's doing. Yes, he's a total idiot for hearing some of the grisly details his aunt tells him about what's going on with motorcycle clubs and still thinking it's a good idea to hang around that scene, but Tempe's way of dealing with it rivals his stupidity. She basically stands there and wrings her hands. Reichs tries to tells us that she does try her best, it's just that there's no reasoning with a 19-year-old male when it comes to risk-taking, but I didn't buy it. I could think of all sorts of ways she could have spoken to him. How about sharing how she's been targetted herself, and that him being around those people puts her in danger? It was very frustrating.
The Ryan thing wasn't great, either. Tempe's reactions just didn't ring true. She's shocked when she hears the news and tries to contact Ryan, but then she just leaves it and hardly thinks about it. After those few phone calls, she barely tries to contact him. It's also a bit too obvious to the reader, right from the start, what's going on there, so the revelations at the end were more "duh" than "oh, wow".
MY GRADE: A C-.
AUDIOBOOK NOTES: This one was narrated by Lorelei King, who I though got Tempe right. She sounded like I picture her. The detailed forensic sections get a bit tedious when read out loud, but there's nothing Ms King can do about that!