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Fatal Voyage (Temperance Brennan Novels)
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2001
Kathy Reichs is back in the game with this exciting forensic thriller, a fast-paced mystery that echoes the brilliance of the first two books in this series.
This time, the venue is North Carolina, and the action begins quickly as Tempe Brennan is called to the scene of a gruesome commercial plane crash. The gritty realism of the crash site, combined with Reichs' usual unflinching descriptions of the victims' remains, forms the backdrop for a mystery that begins when Brennan finds a human foot she suspects is not part of the accident.
Suddenly, Brennan is yanked from the case, her name smeared across the press, and her professional reputation put in serious jeopardy as she is accused of "tampering with a crash site." Of course she has done no such thing--as followers of this series know, Brennan is a straight-arrow forensic anthropologist whose work ethic is scrupulous. So what's going on? That question forms the rest of the story, as Brennan struggles to solve the mystery of the foot and to save her good name. She has some powerful enemies bent on stopping her, not the least of whom is the state's attorney general.
There are some satisfying plot twists to this story as well: Brennan's cop friend Ryan is part of the investigation. Ryan's long-time partner was a passenger on the doomed airliner, and his remains cannot be found. The partner was escorting a well-known prisoner back to Canada for trial. Did the crash have something to do with freeing the criminal? Was he even on the plane? What caused the plane to go down? The theories are rife, and Brennan is itching to get back on the scene. Dogged by the press, in danger of losing her job at the university, humiliated and angry, she throws herself into the parallel mystery of the foot--and uncovers more than she bargained for.
"Fatal Voyage" is a strong and satisfying mystery, and Tempe Brennan is back in form as the strong, no-nonsense, and likeable woman we came to know in "Deja Dead." Yes, she is vulnerable, especially in the scenes with her ex-husband Pete, whom she still loves, and in her acerbic courtship dance with Ryan, to whom she is deeply attracted. It's good to see Reich finally get control of Brennan's personal side, describing her interactions with the two men in her life in a sympathetic and believeable manner. Brennan's incredible strength in the face of professional adversity, her dogged determination to do right by the victims whose remains she must identify, and her tenacity in solving the mystery that is somehow connected with her banishment from the crash scene juxtapose nicely with her vulnerable side. And her interactions with a brand-new character, an irrascible dog who has become her simultaneous bane and companion, adds some much-needed humor to this very grim tale.
It's good to see Reichs AND Brennan back in form. If the rest of the series is as strong and well-written as "Fatal Voyage," Reichs will definitely remain a formidable contender in the forensic mystery genre.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
'Deadly Decisions,' the predecessor to 'Fatal Voyage' was something of a disappointment when compared to Kathy Reichs' first two novels about Temperance Brennan. Too much attention was paid to family and emotional problems, too much of a 'pity me' attitude, and, to be blunt, a very monotonic plot. Reichs' writing carried the book through, but if the stories would have continued in that pattern the series would have suffered greatly. One Patricia Cornwell is enough.
This tale, which starts out with Tempe's arrival at a horrific plane crash in the mountains of North Carolina, is something else again. Not only is she writing much more like her old style, Reichs has also picked up the pace and cleaned up some of her characterization considerably. Tempe's involvement in the crash site as a forensic anthropologist assigned to the gruesome task of piecing together the remains of 88 victims is a fascinating study. Many of the victims are college soccer players, and the loss of life brings an almost overwhelming sense of grim tragedy to the tale.
To add to the mystery, one of Tempe's walks around the crash site precipitates her into a confrontation with coyotes over a human foot. Tempe is rescued by her old friend, and almost lover, Montreal detective Andrew Ryan. Ryan is in North Carolina because his partner, Jean Bertrand, was on the flight escorting a criminal back to Canada. Surrounded by tragedy Tempe and Det. Ryan find themselves thrown together in an uncomfortable intimacy. One which provides most of the humor in this macabre story. The foot, in the meantime, has it's own mystery - it seems to belong to no one who was on the plane.
Unexpectedly, Tempe finds herself being hounded by Parker Davenport, the Lt. Governor, and Larke Tyrell, the medical examiner. Soon her only friends at the site are Ryan, a FBI agent, and Sheriff Lucy Crowe, who has no affection for Davenport and a great deal of savvy on her own. Investigations into the origin of the 'extra' foot trigger a reaction that verges on attempted character assassination. Finally, Tempe is banned from the crash site. Rather than simply go home, Tempe decides to fight back, and launches her own investigation. With amazing results.
The interplay between the techniques used in solving the plane crash and the knowledge that Temperance brings to bear on the solitary limb is fascinating. For those who read forensic mysteries because they love the details, 'Fatal Voyage' is a great treat. The gradual unfolding of the rest of the plot, with its historical and political themes is done seamlessly, without introducing any unnecessary complication. And the rich characterization is a surprise bonus, as Tempe confronts some of her own issues head on, pointing to further developments. We can expect Andrew Ryan to reappear, and I have to hope that Sheriff Crowe also becomes a regular. Reichs has outdone herself.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The plane crash in the back wooded mountains of Swain County North Carolina is brutal as body parts are severed and tossed everywhere and with all eighty-eight people on board dead. The first non-sheriff department person to arrive at the grisly scene is Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist working for the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. Tempe has worked several nasty scenarios, but this one may be the worst yet as the nightmare turns potentially personal. She learns that the TransSouth Air plane carried the University of Georgia men and women soccer teams and some fans, which could include her daughter visiting a player. However, she soon finds out that her daughter is not on the deceased list.
As Tempe works along with other Feds, state and local officials, she finds a leg that does not belong at the site. She begins to investigate the extra body part, but soon is fired for “officiously” showing her interest in the limb. Desiring to regain her reputation shattered by the spin-doctors, Tempe continues her investigation in spite of pressures from high officials in the state and threats to her life.
FATAL VOYAGE, the fourth Brennan tale, is a powerful story that brings to life the grisly side of forensics at a disastrous crash site without allowing the details to overwhelm a strong plot. The story line is exciting, but the tale belongs to the heroine whose feelings run the gamut of human emotion during the novel. Kathy Reichs has written a terrific novel that will send the audience seeking the previous Brennan stories that are also well written, but not quite as great as this one is....
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This was the first Kathy Reichs novel I'd read ... and I promptly went out and bought all the rest. The night the book arrived, I stayed up until 12:15 AM finishing it - I literally could not put it down.
Like the author herself, Reich's protagonist (Tempe Brennan) is a forensic anthropologist. As this is my major, that was the first thing that was what attracted me to purchase the book in the first place.
The book starts off with a bang - Brennan is investigating an airplane crash ... and finds a body part that doesn't match up with anyone on the flight's manifest. This discovery leads her into some very complex situations, many of them life-threatening.
It's been *years* since I stayed up to finish a book the same day I obtained it ... and even more since I enjoyed an author's work so much that I went out and obtained the rest of his or her catalogue the next day.
If you enjoy investigation/police procedure books, mysteries and the like, Reichs' work is definitely for you.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Kathy Reichs has created a wonderful character in Temperance Brennan, known by her friends as Tempe, a forensic anthropolgist who is brilliant, tough, and compassionate. In "Fatal Voyage," she joins a team investigating the tragic crash of an airplane in the mountains of North Carolina.
Joining the team is Andy Ryan, a Montreal detective for whom Tempe has had feelings in the past. He has a vested interest in the investigation, since his former partner, Jean Bertrand, may have died in the crash while escorting a prisoner. The investigators try to figure out what brought the plane down. Was it sabotage, an assassination, an insurance scam, a mechanical failure or something else?
Complicating Tempe's life further is her discovery of a decomposed foot near the crash site. When Tempe looks into her discovery, she suspects that it has nothing to do with the crash; she believes that it is a separate mystery that needs investigating. Suddenly, Tempe is unfairly accused of tampering with evidence and of illegally removing remains from the crash site. She is ordered off the investigation. It appears that powerful people want to discredit Tempe professionally. Later, when a mysterious man tries to run Tempe down with his car, she begins to realize that her life may be in danger, as well.
In "Fatal Voyage," Reichs has created a large and colorful cast of characters, such as Ruby McCready, the bible toting owner of a bed and breakfast where Tempe stays, and Lucy Crowe, the local sheriff who is every bit as tough and tenacious as Tempe. The dialogue sparkles and the narrative moves quickly, although you will need a scorecard to follow the many twists and turns in the plot. The ending is a little weak--too melodramatic and unrealistic, considering the excellence of the writing up to that point.
Why does Tempe spend her life poring over the remains of dead people? In this poignant passage, Tempe explains why she does such "unpleasant" work:
"It is for these victims and the mourners that I tease posthumous tales from bones. The dead will remain dead, whatever my efforts, but there have to be answers and accountability. We cannot live in a world that accepts the destruction of life with no explanations and no consequences." That is good writing and Tempe is a terrific character.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2006
Book four in the series featuring Temperance Brennan finds her working on a plane crash in North Carolina that has attracted media attention from across the country. The plane was transporting mostly college athletes on their way to a competition, but also carried a Canadian police officer escorting a criminal back to Canada. Speculation runs wild during the search for how and what caused the plane to explode and crash. However, Tempe finds a foot in the woods not far from the crash site that she believes was not a part of the crash or the remains of anyone on the plane. This discovery leads her to investigate what she believes to be a complicated set of murders that appear to be linked, but do not seem to make sense. As she gets closer to the truth Tempe finds that she is up against much more than she ever suspected, including high ranking political officials that will stop at nothing to keep their secrets from the public.

The problem with this installment is that it never gets particularly exciting. There is some mystery and intrigue, but Tempe continues to be a weak heroine and so it is not easy to get behind her and excited in her super sleuthing. Additionally, it is hard to believe that an anthropologist would find herself given so much high level access and status related to crime scenes and investigation.

Overall, this series is on the dull side and so there is not enough excitement to overcome the unbelievable aspects of the plot. There just is not enough "hook" to keep me loyal or to continue reading.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2001
Yeah, after reading "Fatal Voyage," I honestly believe that Kathy Reichs is a better writer than Patricia Cornwell. Both Temperance Brennan & Kay Scarpetta are similar and strong characters (except maybe in "Black Notice"), but I would say that Brennan is more realistic and more enjoyable to read about. I found "Fatal Voyage" to be extremely different then Reichs's previous novels. Mostly Brennan is in the morgue cutting up and doing an autopsy on ONE person. In "Fatal Voyage," an aircraft has crashed in the mountains outside of Virginia, taking down an entire school club organization with it. Tempe has to sift through hundreds of bodies and plane wreckage to try and determine if the crash was an accident or a deliberate act of murder. Authorities claim that the crash was deliberate and try to determine if the passengers had any major enemies. Most of their investigation turns up nothing and leave the investigators stumped. Brennan, along with her secret love from previous novels, accidently stumble upon some shocking news about the local town around the crash site. She discovers that there were an extremely high amount of deaths over the last ten years. As she investigates more she gets uncomfortable feelings from the local townspeople that she discovered something secretive about the town. The ending of "Fatal Voyage" was extremely surprising as the story took off on two different directions. The question for us Cornwell/Reichs readers is: Will "Isle of Dogs" be better than "Fatal Voyage?" I guess we'll have to wait until October 8 to find out!....
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2001
As a mystery author with my initial novel in current release, I genuinely enjoy the works of Kathy Reichs. In FATAL VOYAGE,Tempe Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, is serving as a member of an investigating team searching through the remains of a plane crash. Complications arise. No signs of two passengers can be found, and an extra body seems to be at the crash site. Tempe finds her professional reputation challenged, and she finds herself involved in crimes stretching back decades. Ms. Reichs keeps her plot moving swiftly, and her characters are interesting and vividly drawn. FATAL VOYAGE is another terrific book written by Kathy Reichs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 13, 2006
Kathy Reichs' "Fatal Voyage" is the fourth in her Temperance Brennan forensic mystery series. It opens on Temperance, working in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains, as part of a Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team,at the site of a tragic air crash that has claimed 88 victims, many of them college soccer players. To me, this crash struck a resonant echo of the famous South American plane crash of a couple of decades ago: that crash killed many members of a university soccer team, and was the accident on which Piers Paul Reed's remarkable book "Alive" is based.

But, we know, it's always something with Tempe, and this time, bones that are too old for this disaster show up. Tempe immediately starts looking into this new mystery, with unexpected results. She suddenly earns the enmity of Parker Davenport, Lieutenant Governor of the State, and Larke Tyrell, Medical Examiner. She's fired from the forensic team, and publicly accused of "tampering with the crash site," something her loyal readers know she never would do. But she presses forward, always anxious to restore identity to the unknown dead. As we have become accustomed to in this series, her forensic work is excellent-- even exciting--and she eventually discovers the truths these old bones are trying to tell her.

Unfortunately, she arrives at what is, to me, the most unlikely mystery scenario of all the Reichs books I have read. Furthermore, the author appears, in a misguided moment, to have borrowed another page from the playbook of her stiffest competitor, that even more famous female forensic writer with the even more famous female detective. This other writer, who shall remain nameless, had published several superb forensic mysteries. Then her female sleuth became a crazed egomaniac. Investigations became all about the investigator: the bad guys barely had time to tend to their bad guy business while chasing her. Governors and Lieutenant Governors, wealthy, powerful, influential people, were all out to get her, either out of jealousy at her great and famous achievements, or because they were in bed with the bad guys themselves. And just to really worry me, Reichs introduces a character called Lucy in this story. Believe me, please, Dr. Reichs, this is not the way you want to go.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2001
Kathy Reichs has definitely found her stride with this latest installment featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Centering around the investigation of a plane crash in the North Carolina mountains that leaves her career in virtual ruins, it has a rapid fire plot and a twist that is eyebrow raising. However, Reichs is able to keep it all skillfully wound together without venturing into the realm of absurdity.
Reichs draws ever so slightly from her previous novel Deadly Decisions as way of explanation when detective Andrew Ryan appears on the scene of the crash that Brennan is investigating. Ryan's role in the story is a definite welcome for those readers who would have liked to have seen more of his character in Reichs' previous novel. Ryan and Brennan continue to walk the line between professionalism and romance and Reichs draws out the "will they" or "won't they" aspect of their relationship to the delight of some readers and the frustration of others.
Reading this novel is akin to being dropped off a cliff. The minute the first page is turned it becomes a struggle to not finish in one sitting. The only time the freefall slows down is when Reichs chooses to delve a bit too deeply into forensic anthropology and how it all relates to various aspects of the storyline. Despite the necessity of including the information, it is too much like being a captive audience member at a university lecture. Despite this ever so small snag, be forewarned: if you do not take your time with this newest offering by Kathy Reichs, you will be kicking yourself for at least a year as you wait for Temperance Brennan and Andrew Ryan to make their next appearance.
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