Review

Carved In Bone: A Body Farm Novel

by Jefferson Bass

Did
you read and love DEATH'S ACRE, the nonfiction account of the
forensic anthropology research center known as the Body Farm? Are
you a diehard "CSI" fan? If you can't get enough forensic crime
drama but want the realism of nonfiction, then I have the book for
you.


Dr. Bill Bass, the brains behind the real life Body Farm and a
celebrity in the world of forensic anthropology, has teamed up
again with his DEATH'S ACRE writing partner, Jon Jefferson. As
Jefferson Bass they have written CARVED IN BONE, the first in what
may be a series featuring Dr. Bill Brockton (a very, very thinly
veiled Bill Bass).


In CARVED IN BONE we follow Dr. Brockton from his basement offices
under the stadium at the University of Tennessee out into the wild
Tennessee hills as he works with law enforcement, and even those on
the other side of the law, to solve a case involving a mummy found
in a cave.


The remains of a pregnant female were left in a cave many years ago
and naturally mummified. Recently discovered, the mummy is brought
to Dr. Brockton and he and his team begin trying to identify the
body. It soon becomes clear that the death of this young woman and
the discovery of her body (not to mention the evidence of her
pregnancy) will be traumatic for the small Cooke County community
where she had lived. Once she is identified, her former boyfriend,
as well as the relatives who had taken her in over thirty years
ago, all become involved in the case. The case is complicated by
the interest of both local and federal officials and by dark family
secrets, but with the help of colleagues and students Dr. Brockton
acts as the voice of the young woman murdered decades ago and hopes
to bring her killer to justice.


The forensic details are the heart of this novel. The science is
fascinating and written in a way easy for readers to understand,
even for those not familiar with things like adipocere, zygomatic
arches and gracile skulls. The chapters are short and the action
moves quickly. The "Jefferson Bass" writing team has even thrown in
some sexual tension to spice up the clinical (for lack of a better
term) aspects of the story. The good guys and bad guys are pretty
obvious, and the outcome and resolution of the plot is not quite
unpredictable, but for a first foray into fiction Jefferson Bass
gets a lot right.


If you have read DEATH'S ACRE lately, much of CARVED IN BONE will
be very familiar. The voice of Bill Bass, the research he does, the
atmosphere he works in, and even many of his explanations and jokes
are the same --- only here they belong to Dr. Brockton. So much
will seem like a re-read, but the actual case and the drama itself
is fresh.


This is a well-plotted mystery with plenty of highbrow gore. It is
an enjoyable, not to mention educational, read. The forensic
accuracy and attention to detail are much appreciated, and Dr. Bill
Brockton is a likable character. Although the pace is not always
consistent and the tale is a bit repetitious in parts, CARVED IN
BONE remains high on my recommendation list.


   













Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on December 26, 2010

Carved In Bone: A Body Farm Novel
by Jefferson Bass

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0060759828
  • ISBN-13: 9780060759827