Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs ****

There is a fundamental difference between a TV adaptation and a movie adaptation. With few exceptions (notably The Hobbit), the movie is significantly shorter than the book, while a successful TV adaptation is significantly longer. For this reasons, readers often complain about movie adaptions, "The book was better." On the other hand, the opposite might be true for TV adaptation.

In order to counteract this bias, my advice for those who were introduced to Temperance Brennan, the forensic anthropologist, through the wildly successful (11 seasons) Bones TV series is "Forget the TV series when you op[en the book." The coincidence the the protagonist of Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs has the same name as the lead in Bones must be forgotten. They are not related. (I understand this is difficult as at this date you are probably only picking up the book because you likes the series.)

The book is a murder mystery, like other murder mysteries with multiple puzzles and red herrings, which are all solved in the end. For me, this was a middle-of-the-road mystery. Specifically several of the mystery threads foreshadowed their resolution too clearly too early.

My other disappointment is that the book ends with a sermonette against motorcycle gangs. I don't mind if fiction writers showcase their research (Kathy Reichs does this also with regular breaks in the narrative for little lectures), but I do not expect long editorials, no matter how important the message.

I enjoy reading novels as little anthropological digs. This book, written less that two decades ago, highlights the speed of technological advance. In addition to pagers and paper phone messages, reports are written on paper and passed to the secretary pool to be typed. When I started my professional life in the 1960s, these secretarial pools were everywhere, but I surprised to read that they survived into the 1990s.

A fine mystery, well plotted and written.

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