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Posted November 15, 2012
A Killer Kickoff to a Phenomenal Series
"It was a beautiful day to grow up."
Body Bags, a mystery written by Christopher Golden, opens with a killer line: "Amanda Green died for a cigarette." Within a matter of pages, Amanda is a goner, having been at the wrong place at the wrong time. It just goes to prove what I've been saying all of my life: Smoking kills. Don't smoke.
But this book is not all about vices. It is about solving the crime, bringing the guilty ones to justice, and taking the most dangerous journey of all: growing up.
The Body of Evidence novels written by Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala are intelligent and intriguing forensic mysteries. They offer realistic characters, captivating clues, and detailed autopsies and investigations. The line is made up of ten books, starting with Body Bags. After the tragic prologue, the first chapter introduces us to Jenna Blake, the character who is the core of every novel in the series. The series begins as she travels to college, where she will be a freshman. She considered following in her mother's footsteps and work in medicine until she realized that the sight of blood made her feel out of sorts. Her father, a criminology professor, recommends that she take a job with a medical examiner. The interview takes place during an autopsy. As she settles into school and the M.E.'s office, Jenna soon finds that she has not only the stomach for the job, but the smarts. Ultimately, it is her attention to detail and her insatiable thirst for knowledge as well as her previously unrecognized capacity for daring that solves the troubling case.
This series is recommended to adults and to teenagers. Readers will find Jenna visiting crime scenes and autopsy rooms nearly as often as she's in her dorm. Her relatives, friends, and studies factor into the books just as much as serial killers and detectives. There's just as much here for a fifty-year-old as for a fifteen-year-old. Throughout the series, Christopher Golden - and, later, collaborator Rick Hautala - created characters who are believable but anything but cookie-cutter. They are all adults, though some are younger than others. Some are parents, some are students, some are detectives, some are doctors, but all are vital to the progress of the stories and of each other. Instead of being full of teen angst or taking on the obvious issue of the week/episode/book, the younger characters are simply dealing with life and getting through things both one day at a time and one leap at a time.
The quality of Body Bags is above and beyond most suspense novels - and it continues throughout the series, versus other series which lose the momentum after a few books, or series in which the books become carbon copies. If you enjoy medical thrillers with great characters, especially if you watch(ed) television series such as CSI or Profiler, or read or watch Rizzoli & Isles, then you need to read these books right now. You won't be sorry.
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