Review

Fatal Voyage

by Kathy Reichs

Major air disasters seem to be happening with more frequency
lately. Or maybe it's my increasing unease with just how well the
airlines inspect their planes, screen passengers and cargo, and
manipulate the burgeoning numbers of flights circulating through a
limited airspace. The variables that can result in the death of so
many innocent people are endless, and the drama that unfolds in
Kathy Reichs's FATAL VOYAGE illustrates that point with stunning
clarity. Yet, the airplane disaster is only the first act in the
chilling tale that readers will experience in her latest Temperance
Brennan thriller.

Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist, also happens to be a
member of DMORT --- Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team.
When a flight crashes in the mountains of North Carolina, Tempe is
called in to help identify the victims. As in any occurrence of
this type, DMORT is also responsible for assisting the various
other agencies --- FBI, NTSB, and local law enforcement --- with
establishing the cause of the disaster, which seems to have any
number of possibilities, as the evidence begins to show. Her old
friend, Montreal detective Andrew Ryan, is also called in because
his partner was on this particular flight, transporting a prisoner
with ties to organized crime. Attention focuses on the theory that
the prisoner was the target, and the other unfortunate passengers
and crew were collateral damage. But before the investigation is
barely underway, Tempe discovers a severed foot that doesn't match
anyone listed on the airline manifest; and as she probes for
information as to where the anonymous foot could have come from,
her personal troubles begin.

Someone with heavy connections doesn't want Tempe to continue with
this tangental issue, nor do they want her sniffing around a
seemingly abandoned cabin hidden deep in the forest a short
distance from the crash site. Continuing to ask questions, she soon
finds herself accused of unethical and unprofessional conduct by
the state's Attorney General, removed from the official
investigation and barred from the crash site. With her reputation
and career dangling from a thread, Tempe's anger compels her to
continue searching for answers despite her bafflement over what ax
the Attorney General could possibly have to grind. Dependent on the
few contacts she has left, Tempe begins to uncover a disturbing
pattern of death in the mountain community with far reaching
implications. When the truth behind these deaths is finally
revealed, the tragedy of the plane crash pales in comparison.

One of the appealing aspects to a Reichs novel is her ability to
create the personal story --- Tempe's ongoing relationship with her
ex-husband, her unresolved relationship with Andrew Ryan --- with
just the right amount of sexual tension and humor so as not to
undermine the basic suspense. Like Tempe, the reader is somewhat
perplexed over which man, if either, belongs in her life. And by
creating a certain distance between Tempe and Ryan, Reichs has
avoided the pitfalls of some of her contemporaries by enabling this
relationship to remain speculative for as many future novels as she
wishes.

In 1997 Kathy Reichs hit the bestseller list like a thunderbolt
with her initial Temperance Brennan thriller, nudging her more
established peers to the sidelines. With crisp prose and a mastery
for complex plotting, FATAL VOYAGE continues the success of DEJA
DEAD, DEATH DU JOUR, and DEADLY DECISIONS by bringing readers an
engaging character whose maturity and sense of humor are
refreshing. The fact that much of Tempe's professional bio
parallels Reichs's own life adds a dimension of realistic
probability to the suspense; the depth of her research provides a
fascinating, richly detailed background to every novel. Reichs has
shown a remarkable talent for making forensics an intriguing topic
and forging new ground in an already saturated genre with a
freshness rarely seen these days. If you haven't picked up one of
her novels as yet, make it a high priority.

Reviewed by Ann Bruns (BkPageWC@aol.com) on January 21, 2011

Fatal Voyage
by Kathy Reichs

  • Publication Date: July 17, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 0684859726
  • ISBN-13: 9780684859729