Deja Dead


In an attempt to create accurate fiction, I consulted experts in many fields. I wish to thank Bernard Chapais for his explanation of Canadian regulations pertaining to the housing and maintenance of laboratory animals; Sylvain Roy, Jean-Guy Hébert, and Michel Hamel for their help on serology; Bernard Pommeville for his detailed demonstration of X-ray microfluorescence; and Robert Dorion for his advice on forensic dentistry, bite mark analysis, and proper use of the French language. Last, but far from least, I wish to express my gratitude to Steve Symes for his boundless patience in discussing saws and their effects on bone.

I owe a debt of thanks to John Robinson and Marysue Rucci, without whom Déjà Dead may never have come to be. John brought the manuscript to Marysue’s attention, and she saw merit in it. My editors, Susanne Kirk, Marysue Rucci, and Maria Rejt waded through the original version of Déjà Dead, improving it greatly with their editorial suggestions. A million thanks to my agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. She is amazing.

Finally, on a more personal note, I want to thank the members of my family who read the embryonic work and made valuable comments. I appreciate their support, and their patience with my long absences.


I WASN’T THINKING ABOUT THE MAN WHO’D BLOWN HIMSELF UP. Earlier I had. Now I was putting him together. Two sections of skull lay in front of me, and a third jutted from a sand-filled stainless steel bowl, the glue still drying on its reassembled fragments. Enough bone to confirm identity. The coroner would be pleased.

It was late afternoon, Thursday, June 2, 1994. While the glue set, my mind had gone truant. The knock that would break my reverie, tip my life off course, and alter my comprehension of the bounds of human depravity wouldn’t come for another ten minutes. I was enjoying my view of the St. Lawrence, the sole advantage of my cramped corner office. Somehow the sight of water has always rejuvenated me, especially when it flows rhythmically. Forget Golden Pond. I’m sure Freud could have run with that.

My thoughts meandered to the upcoming weekend. I had a trip to Quebec City in mind, but my plans were vague. I thought of visiting the Plains of Abraham, eating mussels and crepes, and buying trinkets from the street vendors. Escape in tourism. I’d been in Montreal a full year, working as forensic anthropologist for the province, but I hadn’t been up there yet, so it seemed like a good program. I needed a couple of days without skeletons, decomposed bodies, or corpses freshly dragged from the river.

Ideas come easily to me, enacting them comes harder. I usually let things go. Perhaps it’s an escape hatch, my way of allowing myself to double back and ease out the side door on a lot of my schemes. Irresolute about my social life, obsessive in my work.

I knew he was standing there before the knock. Though he moved quietly for a man of his bulk, the smell of old pipe tobacco gave him away. Pierre LaManche had been director of the Laboratoire de Médecine Légale for almost two decades. His visits to my office were never social, and I suspected that his news wouldn’t be good. LaManche tapped the door softly with his knuckles.

“Temperance?” It rhymed with France. He would not use the shortened version. Perhaps to his ear it just didn’t translate. Perhaps he’d had a bad experience in Arizona. He, alone, did not call me Tempe.

“Oui?” After months, it was automatic. I had arrived in Montreal thinking myself fluent in French, but I hadn’t counted on Le