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Culture Watch





And Consider This

For Those Who Like Mysteries

Two recommendations to while away a few lazy summer hours:

First, Kathy Reichs' newest, "Fatal Voyage," goes on sale July 17. In the meantime, you can fill in the time by reading her first novel, "Déjà Dead." Kathy Reichs inherits the mantle from Patricia Cornwall, whose talents seem to have played out of late. Like her protagonist Temperance Brennan, Reichs herself serves as forensic anthropologist for the Chief Medical Examiner of North Carolina and also for the province of Quebec, as well as teaching at the University of North Carolina.

In "Déjà Dead," (Paperback: Pocket Books, 1998) while working in Montreal, Tempe Brennan tries to keep track of her friend, a graduate student in cultural anthropology, who is studying the downtown prostitute population. Her friend gets information that may relate to a series of brutal murders but is reluctant to betray the confidence of her edgy subjects. When her friend disappears, Tempe is drawn in to one of the more harrowing investigations ever described. This novel is impossible to put down.

In "Fatal Voyage," (Simon & Schuster; $25) set in the mountains of rural North Carolina, Tempe is assigned to assist in identifying the remains of sixty passengers in a fatal air crash. The veil of secrecy surrounding those notorious long FAA investigations is pulled aside for us (and it appears the Feds are actually quite competent). But while walking in the woods, Tempe discovers a foot being gnawed on by wolves. When she is able to retrieve it for examination, it turns out not to belong to anyone on the passenger roster. Then, every effort is made to deter her from further inquiry about her find. An underground chamber, Egyptology, and even 18th century Sir Francis Dashwood figure in the outcome. The novel is a little slow to get under way but altogether exciting and absorbing.

Daughter of an army surgeon, Eileen Frost grew up in libraries on military bases from coast to coast and beyond. A Senate staff member for five years after college, she spent many rewarding hours in the Library of Congress. She then spent a year in Europe, and after an interlude enjoying her small children, Eileen ran a catering business, became a librarian, and has worked at an independent school in North Carolina since 1984. Ms. Frost has two daughters, both avid readers. For questions, comments and suggestions, email Eileen Frost.


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