Falsehood In Advertising – Virals by Kathy Reichs

The last time that I put a book down after a disappointing first couple of chapters (The Holmes Affair by Graeme Moore), I didn’t post a review of it – after all, I’d only read about 30 pages of it. This time, I didn’t make 30 pages – the total number of pages read was four. This isn’t going to be a review. Consider it a warning…

I’ve never read any of Kathy Reichs’ books – for the unaware, her primary body of work concerns Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, which generated the TV series Bones. Now I love Bones – not only does each episode contain a little mystery, but the characters are fun to be around – and as one of the points of this blog is to find modern novels that contain decent mysteries, I figured that I’d try one of these books. When i saw the cover of Virals, I figured that, as it boasted the start of an exciting new series, this would be a great jumping on point.

Oh dear…

Before reading on, I urge the reader to look carefully at the cover and blurb for this book. Read it and then make a decision about the sort of book it is.

Done that? Good.

So – a quiz.

  1. Did you spot any indication that this is a Young Adults book – big print, short chapters, teenaged gang as leads, etc?
  2. Did you spot any indication that by the end of the book – as hinted at in the prologue, Tory Brennan and friends are going to have developed superpowers?

If your answer to either of those is “Yes”, then excuse me for responding with “Liar, liar, pants on fire”. Oh, I couldn’t be bothered to read on to find out what the powers bit was about – it sounds a bit like werewolves – some gubbins about having heightened senses and stamina – but it might be some pseudo-science stuff about viruses instead. Don’t know, don’t care.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not taking a pop at this book, the writing or the author. It clearly isn’t aimed at me. I’m having a go at how it is marketed. If I’d kept the receipt, then I’d probably have attempted to return the book to Tescos for a refund. Why on earth is there no mention of the themes or the target audience on the book unless it is to try and con the potential buyers on the strength of Reichs’ name? To be fair here, Reichs must take a little of the blame here – by tying the book directly into the Temperance Brennan series – the lead character is her niece – she must be trying to hook in readers of that series, who are likely to be disappointed in the sci-fi (sorry, but Syfy sounds stupid) aspect of the series.

I’ll still try the series of thrillers at some point, but thanks to this book, it’ll be later rather than sooner. So I’ll leave you with a warning – don’t judge a book by its cover…


  1. Just discovered by having a grump at Mr Waterstones that there is in face an alternative “young adult” cover. So this is a deliberate con after all… Still not happy – you can tell, can’t you?


  2. Seems like a very silly thing to do, but apparently it works… This is why, with modern authors, I try to first get a book or two from the library. I wouldn’t have been very happy, for instance, if I’d bought William DeAndrea’s “Cronus”, because it’s so vastly different from his usual stuff!


  3. There’s nothing like feeling you’ve been cheated by a book. I have read all Reichs’s other books and somehow I knew this wasn’t for me although I can see the cover isn’t clear. In fact it references when this happened to me – with James Patterson and his series for younger readers. Don’t write Reichs off, but I’d recommend the third or fourth title in her main series.


  4. Must admit, read one Reich book (no idea which) and decided it wasn’t my particular brand of crime fictions (not really keen on the whole forensic subgenre though i love NCIS and CSI on TV – go figure …) -I even found the Kay Scarpetta series pretty irritating for instance. I will say though that the reference to the niece and her friends on the synopsis did tend to suggest to me a young adult readership actually, but probably only because you pointed to it, so I completely feel your pain, I really do!


    • Just remembered, I read a Scarpetta way back when. It’s the one with the interesting premise of an fingerprint of an executed criminal being found at a fresh murder scene and the dullest resolution to the problem possible. Nothing like building my hopes up and then skewering them to put me off a writer…


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