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Carved in Bone (Body Farm Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview

There is a patch of ground in Tennessee dedicated to the science of death, where human remains lie exposed to be studied for their secrets. The real-life scientist who founded the "Body Farm" has broken cold cases and revolutionized forensics . . . and now he spins an astonishing tale inspired by his own experiences.

Renowned anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton has spent his career surrounded by death at the Body Farm. Now he's being called upon to help solve a baffling puzzle in...

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Carved in Bone (Body Farm Series #1)

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Overview

There is a patch of ground in Tennessee dedicated to the science of death, where human remains lie exposed to be studied for their secrets. The real-life scientist who founded the "Body Farm" has broken cold cases and revolutionized forensics . . . and now he spins an astonishing tale inspired by his own experiences.

Renowned anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton has spent his career surrounded by death at the Body Farm. Now he's being called upon to help solve a baffling puzzle in a remote mountain community. The mummified corpse of a young woman dead for thirty years has been discovered in a cave, the body bizarrely preserved and transformed by the environment's unique chemistry. But Brockton's investigation is threatening to open old wounds among an insular people who won't forget or forgive. And a long-buried secret prematurely exposed could inflame Brockton's own guilt—and the dangerous hostility of bitter enemies determined to see him fail . . . by any means necessary.

With Fascinating Insider Information on the Body Farm!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The gazillions of forensic science aficionados out there -- fans of CSI, NCIS, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, et al. -- will be coming out of the woodwork for this debut novel from the writing team of Dr. William Bass, founder of the University of Tennessee's legendary Body Farm, and acclaimed journalist Jon Jefferson.

Protagonist Dr. Bill Brockton -- a thinly veiled fictionalized version of Bass -- is a forensic anthropologist who started UT's world-renowned postmortem decay research lab (a.k.a. the Body Farm). When he gets entangled in a bizarre case involving the corpse of a young pregnant woman found deep in a cave placed on a crude altar, he is not only forced to deal with his unresolved issues involving his wife's recent death but also with a virtual county full of corrupt law enforcement officials, paranoid drug runners, and psychopathic rednecks -- all of whom are desperately trying to keep something secret…

And while the forensic detail in this novel is as meticulous as one might expect, Carved in Bone is much more than a first-rate murder mystery. The fluidity and confidence of Bass and Jefferson's writing makes this stellar debut not only an intensely compelling psychological thriller but also a wildly entertaining and insightful exploration of life in the mountains of East Tennessee: marijuana-growing hillbillies, moonshining, cockfights, ginseng poaching, brilliant allusions to Cormac McCarthy's Appalachia classic Child of God, etc. Make no bones about it, this is an exceptional novel that will engross anyone who reads it. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
The pseudonymous Bass makes a successful first foray into fiction. The author is actually the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass, the forensic anthropologist who founded the legendary Body Farm (Tennessee's experimental laboratory devoted to the study of the way human corpses decompose), and Jon Jefferson, a journalist and filmmaker. Their new sleuth, Dr. Bill Brockton, is obviously based on Dr. Bass, sharing his first name, initials and his status as founder of the Body Farm. (The two coauthored Death's Acre, a nonfiction account of that macabre if scientifically valuable facility.) Still recovering from the emotional devastation of his wife's death, Dr. Brockton stumbles across a mummified female body, and his passion for the truth enmeshes him in a probe that verifies rumors of local corruption. His particular skills are vital to identifying the corpse as well as those who might have been motivated to kill the victim decades earlier. The pacing and action bode well for this crime series, though mystery fans who enjoy whodunits might hope that subsequent books pose more of a puzzle. 7-city author tour. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Crime and science slug it out in this second book from writing team Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass (Death's Acre, 2003), a neatly-done mystery aimed straight at the CSI set. It's just another day on the job for University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton. Tom Kitchings, sheriff of hardscrabble Cooke County, has invited him out to look at a body, hoping that the crime-fighting professor will be able to draw a few clues from the corpse. Brockton's investigation has only begun to get rolling, though, when suggestions start to come from the county's hidden mountain hollows that this mystery might be better left unsolved. From there the tale turns into a whirl of backwoods shenanigans-cockfights, drug-running, family feuds-with just enough science thrown in to make readers feel like they've learned something. The book slows a bit whenever the story drifts to the agonies of the good doctor's love life, but these digressions are mercifully brief. The whole affair grows more and more noirish, with the plot's convolutions culminating in a finale that finds fresh bodies hitting the floor in an unexpected pattern. Southern-fried forensics. Nothing too fancy, but it does taste good going down.
Houston Chronicle
“A superb mystery—well-plotted, filled with memorable characters, based on accurate forensic science.”
Lansing State Journal
“[A] knockout...full of rich and sometimes stomach-turning forensic detail.”
USA Today
“[A] unique corpse, solid science, quirky humor and a lovable protagonist.”
Kathy Reichs
“CARVED IN BONE brims with terrific forensic detail...the real deal.”
Jeff Abbott
“Fantastic forensic detail and an engaging hero … an authoritative, compelling new voice to the forensic mystery.”
Dr. Henry Lee
“Offers terrific forensic details and the science of solving cold cases. It is electrifying, provocative and full of surprises.”
James Starrs
“Percolates with wit, gentility, and scientific savoir-faire ... alive with verve and charm...engrossingly entertaining.”
Katherine Ramsland
“Move over, Kathy Reichs. The Sherlock Holmes for bones has arrived.”
Emily A. Craig
“A gripping murder mystery.”
Stephen White
“CARVED IN BONE introduces a captivating protagonist and is full of obscure, fascinating forensics. [A] fine new talent.”
Michael M. Baden
“[F]ascinating...a delightful course in “how to examine a skeleton,” and the intrigues of the Tennessee moonshine backwoods!”
Doctor - Henry Lee
"Offers terrific forensic details and the science of solving cold cases. It is electrifying, provocative and full of surprises."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061804885
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Series: Body Farm Series , #1
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 3,350
  • File size: 656 KB

Meet the Author

Jefferson Bass is the writing team of Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass. Dr. Bass, a world-renowned forensic anthropologist, is the creator of the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility, widely known as the Body Farm. He is the author or coauthor of more than two hundred scientific publications, as well as a critically acclaimed memoir about his career at the Body Farm, Death's Acre. Dr. Bass is also a dedicated teacher, honored as U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Jon Jefferson is a veteran journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. His writings have been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, and Popular Science and broadcast on National Public Radio. The coauthor of Death's Acre, he is also the writer and producer of two highly rated National Geographic documentaries about the Body Farm.

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Read an Excerpt

Carved in Bone

A Body Farm Novel
By Jefferson Bass

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Bass
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006075981X

Chapter One

Five minutes had passed since the deputy's eyelids first fluttered open, and he still hadn't spoken, so I figured maybe it was up to me to break the ice. "I'm Dr. Brockton, but I expect you know that," I said. He nodded weakly. According to the bar of brass on his chest, his name was Williams. "This your first visit to the Body Farm, Deputy Williams?" He nodded again.

"Body Farm" wasn't my facility's real name, but the nickname -- coined by a local FBI agent and given title billing in a bestselling crime novel by Patricia Cornwell -- seemed to have stuck. Cornwell set only a brief scene of the novel at my postmortem-decay research lab at the University of Tennessee, but that one scene -- along with the facility's catchy nickname and macabre mission -- must have been enough. As soon as the book hit the shelves, the phone started ringing and the media descended in droves. The upshot is, millions of people know about the Body Farm, though few of them know its boring but official name: the Anthropology Research Facility. Unlike some of my colleagues, I don't care which name people use. To paraphrase Shakespeare, a Body Farm by any other name would still stink.

A lot of people wonder what an anthropologist is doing with dozens of rotting human corpses scattered across (and beneath) three acres of Tennessee woods. When they hear the term "anthropology," they think of Margaret Mead and her sexually liberated Samoans, or Jane Goodall and her colony of chimps, not physical anthropologists and their calipers and bones. But the rise of forensic anthropology -- using the tools of physical anthropology to help solve crimes -- seems to be elevating the profile of the bone detectives. It's amazing what you can learn about murder victims by studying their skulls, their rib cages, their pelvises, and other bones. Who was this person who was cut into pieces and hidden in a junkyard? What's the age, race, sex, and stature? Do his dental fillings or healed fractures match X-rays of missing persons? Is that hole in the skull from a gunshot wound or a golf club? Was he dismembered with a chain saw or a surgeon's scalpel? Finally -- and here's where my facility has made its greatest mark over the past quarter-century -- judging by the degree of decomposition, how long has this poor bastard been dead?

Of course, when word gets around that you've got dozens of dead bodies in various states of disrepair, all sorts of interesting research questions come your way. That's why I now found myself kneeling over a corpse, plunging a hunting knife into his back.

I looked down at my "victim," the weapon still jutting from the oozing wound. "I'm running a little experiment here," I said to the shell-shocked deputy who had caught me in flagrante delicto. "Despite the knife in his back, this fellow actually died of a coronary -- halfway through a marathon." Williams blinked in surprise, but I just shrugged in a go-figure sort of way. "Forty years old, ran every day. I guess you could say his legs just outran his heart." I waited for a laugh, but there wasn't one. "Anyhow, his wife took some of my anthropology classes here at UT about twenty years ago, so when he keeled over, she donated his body for research. I'm not sure if that says good things or bad things about the marriage."

Williams's eyes cleared and focused a bit -- he seemed to be at least considering whether to smile at this one -- so I kept talking. The words, I figured, gave him something to latch on to as he hauled himself out of his tailspin. "I'm testifying in a homicide case that's about to go to trial, and I'm trying to reproduce a stab wound -- what the medical examiner's autopsy called the fatal wound -- but I'm not having much luck. Looks like I'd have to violate a couple of laws of physics or metallurgy to get that blade to follow the path the ME described." His eyes swiveled from my face to the corpse and back to me again. "See, the ME's report had the blade entering the victim's back on the left side, then angling up across the spine, and finally veering sharply into the right lobe of the lung. Can't be done. Not by me, at least. Between you and me and the gatepost, I think the ME botched the autopsy."

I had propped the deputy against the trunk of an oak tree. By now he looked like maybe he was ready to get up, so I peeled off a glove and hauled him to his feet. "Take a look around, if you want," I said, nodding toward a cluster of clothed bodies at the edge of the main clearing. "You might see something that'll help you with a case someday." He considered this, then took a tentative glance around the clearing. "Over there, we've got a decomposition experiment that's comparing cotton clothing with synthetic fabrics. We need to know if certain types of fabric slow down or speed up the decomp rate. So far, looks like cotton's the winner."

"What difference would it make?" Ah: he could talk!

"Cotton holds moisture longer, which the flies and maggots seem to like. Keeps the skin nice and soft." He winced, clearly regretting the question. "Up the hill in the woods," I went on, "we've got a screened-in hut where we're keeping the bugs away from a body. You'd be amazed how much the decomp rate slows when bugs can't get to the corpse." I turned to him. "One of my students just finished a study of cadaver weight loss; guess how many pounds a day a body can lose?" He stared at me as if I were from another planet. "Forty pounds in one day, if the body's really fat. Maggots are like teenage boys: you just can't fill 'em up."

He grimaced and shook his head, but he grinned, too. Finally. "So you've got bodies laid out all over the ground here?"

Continues...


Excerpted from Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass Copyright © 2006 by Jefferson Bass. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1606 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(589)

4 Star

(562)

3 Star

(272)

2 Star

(89)

1 Star

(94)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1614 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 20, 2011

    Couldn't put it down

    I had read the fifth book first and just loved it. Great characters, some of the most detailed and unique I've ever seen. The stories are complex, multifaceted, and if you like forensic stories, Patricia Cornwell, autopsies, murder investigations, etc, then this is a must for you. Extreme technical accuracy. When we read book #5, I went out and bought the first four in the series and my wife and I devoured them one by one. It is not necessary to read them in sequence, but it will help as some events and characters are referred to downstream and come into play in subsequent stories (in a peripheral way). Start with Carved in Bone (#1), then Flesh & Bone, The Devil's Bones, Bones of Betrayal, The Bone Thief, then The Bone Yard (hardback as I write this). You won't be disappointed!

    23 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2011

    A decent read especially for CSI fans

    Carved In Bone is what every novel should be, a good story. Told in a linear, detailed fashion, this story does not leave you with unanswered questions or subplots that seem to veer off and dissipate. It does, however, have twists and turns that keep the story from being bland and lifeless. Carved In Bone also has enough technical detail about bodies and the investigation process to assure the reader that the authors are quite knowledgeable in their studied profession, which leaves the reader to wonder which details are from actual investigations.

    One might wonder, after reading my previous statements, why I would only rate this novel at three stars. In my opinion, the mediocre rating of this book stems from one flaw, over simplicity, that feeds other flaws, simple characters and simple plot.

    Most characters in a novel are supposed to be simple. Their simplicity contrasts the complexity of the hero/heroin. However, in Carved In Bone, the main character is the most boring in the story. Perhaps this trait was intentional to make him more identifiable to the reader, but it made me wish the book was wrote in 3rd person rather than his point of view so I could learn more about the other, more interesting characters. It felt as though a highly intelligent professional character was "dumbed down" to keep the reader from disconnecting.

    The plot, while a satisfying story, could have used more complexity. A simple, easy to follow story may be a bit boring those readers that are accustomed to mystery/crime novels. A little heavier use of foreshadowing and flashbacks would have seasoned this one nicely.

    Just my thoughts.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    FEUDIN', FIGHTIN' AND FORENSIC DETAIL

    Actually, the name of the site at the University of Tennessee is the Anthropology Research Facility, but it's known to the world as 'Body Farm,' a nickname chosen by a Tennessee FBI agent and made famous by Patricia Cornwell's popular crime novel. The facility, a three acre site devoted to postmortem-decay research, was founded some 25 years ago by Dr. Bill Bass, renowned for his expertise in forensic anthropology. Now, in addition to his studies and the assistance he gives to law enforcement officials, Dr. Bass has teamed with journalist/filmmaker Jon Jefferson to pen a novel so loaded with forensic detail that some may decide to sleep with the lights on. This writing team wastes no time in snagging readers with a prologue detailing protagonist Bill Brockton's probing of a corpse with a hunting knife. After locating a space just behind the heart's lower chambers, '...I set the tip of the hunting knife there¿it snagged in the soft flesh¿then leaned in and began to push. It took more force than I'd expected......As my victim jerked and skidded from the force, a rib broke with the sound of a green tree branch splintering.' Definitely not a story for the squeamish or weak of heart. The graphic prologue is fair warning of descriptions to come as Brockton is called upon by Cooke County's sheriff Tom Kitchings to accompany him to a remote cave hidden in the Appalachian Mountains. This is a trip fraught with peril for Brockton as he suffers from vertigo and motion sickness. Nonetheless, his malaise is forgotten when he enters the cave and finds a mummified body on a rock ledge. Of course, there are many questions: is it a male or female? How long has the body been there and how did he/she die? Those familiar with forensic science will find much in Brockton's descriptions of adipocere (grave wax) which, evidently, leaves a corpse resembling a wax museum figure. The body is returned to the Body Farm, and the research begins. It's a challenge that both intrigues and baffles Brockton as even with his wide experience he has never seen anything like this before. Both affable and curious Brockton enjoys a challenge, but his investigation into this person's death is not all welcome among the residents of Appalachia, plus a jealous medical examiner throws roadblocks at every turn. In addition, Sheriff Kitchings, the all-powerful, chooses not to cooperate. Eventually, we learn of a long ago but not forgotten feud among the mountain people, but what really sets the narrative apart is copious forensic detail. Fans of this genre of crime fiction won't want to miss a word others may shiver and shudder a bit. - Gail Cooke

    8 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2013

    Harriet klausner

    Once again harriet klausner ruins another book with her cliff note book report. Its bad enough with all the other plot spoilers, but with harriet leading the way they all think they can get away with revealing the entire book. Please bn, do something with harriet klausner and these other plot spoilers. Ban them and delete their posts.

    7 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful read!!

    I love all the books in this series. They are very well written forensic mysteries. If you love CSI, Bones, or any of the other "dead-body" tv shows, you will love this series of books!!

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    If you like your murder wrapped up in suspense you have to check this out

    For a first book, Carved in Bone has a great mix of information, murder, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. I downloaded the NOOKbook even though I had head the paperback... and I read it again on my nook. I look forward to downloading more from Bas.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting and informative

    I enjoyed reading this book, and it did have some exciting scenes in it. I also enjoyed learning some science behind it. However, there were two scenes that I found a bit unrealistic. The first is when Dr. Bill is looking for something during a re-autopsy, gets frustrated and uses his gloved hands to poke around the organ bag. (Hello, why not use the x-ray machine to see if it's even in the bag first...) The biggest No They Didn't is when Dr. Bill conducts a crime scene investigation with help from his undergrad and grad students. Seriously, a capital murder scene and there are NO professional CSIs in the entire state of TN who can work it? (so Hollywood!) Other than that, I enjoyed the book and would be interested in seeing more from this expert writing duo.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Loved it!

    Im a very big reader. I always have to have something to read. So when i was searching for a new series i stumbled upon this one and decided to take a chance and read it. Im glad i did. Its very well written. Im now halfway through book 2 in the series and im exited to see what happens next! :)

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    Enjoyable read

    I enjoyed reading this book from the beginning. I finished it within two days. I agree with another poster- there were some moments that were not really believable, but other information that made me think about the way we study human life and death. Very interesting- I would recommend reading this book for enjoyment.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    This book was AWESOME!!!! Loved it. I loved Dr. Bass' classes in college and this book series was the best Christmas present ever :) Could not put my nook down finished it in 2 days and that was with 4 kids running around the house on Christmas.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I couldn't get past the first 100 pages.

    While I think the author spent a lot of time researching the medical and geographic information for this book there are a lot of missed opportunities for any real character development. I found the relationships to all be strained and unbelievable and never really "liked" any of the characters. There was no real connection between them. After 100 pages I still didn't have much of a sense of what the narrator looked like which makes it hard for the reader to see themselves in the character and for the book to really bring them in. Besides giving years of the narrators history it was a while before I even had a real sense of his age. Also, it may just be me, but I've always found it cliche or tacky to reference other known authors works or movies within another work of fiction, if the reader doesn't know that text/movie then the reference is lost on them. I think this is okay maybe once in a book but this one does it several times and it gets rather annoying, personally. The author needs to spend more time on his character development and imagery instead of trying to force the reader into seeing what he wants them to by making vague references. SPOILER: This book lost me when the narrator mentioned having never had an inappropriate relationship with a student then 20 pages later goes on to have one. Too smoking gun and too predictable. Not to mention that scene with the student was very unrealistic. Who sits and cries about their dead ex-wife while holding a dead woman pelvis bone then makes out with a student? Oh and then his grad student JUST happens to walk in at that EXACT moment? I also think the whole "college professor / student" over used because, as I am sure it does happen on occasion, I think it's a very rare occurrence and as a college student I never found myself in this situation and never heard of it either. There are some typos and several parts where I think the author was intending to be elusive and create suspense but I had to stop and see if I'd accidentally skipped a page. Overall I think this could really use another revision.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2013

    Great book

    Wow so good to read

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2013

    Excellent

    Well written and entertaining. Actually much better than the Scarpetta books.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    I was going to purchase this ebook for a friend--until I saw tha

    I was going to purchase this ebook for a friend--until I saw that the ebook costs MORE than the paperback. Sorry, but an ebook should NOT cost more than an actual physical book. I think I'll get her the paperback...elsewhere.

    2 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    Good Read

    This is a solid free nookbook read, definitely worth more than both the price I didn't pay in money ($0)and the price I paid in time (a few hours). The terminology of forensics used was clearly explained for the non-anthropologist reader. You cannot go wrong as it is free and entertaining. There are several books in this series; no doubt Barnes & Noble offered this one gratis to lure readers into buying the others (which I haven't read). I may read more in this series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2014

    If you like Bones you'll love this series

    Excellent writing and plot lines.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    1 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Bdgdgdbdhdbd

    bibgjhnhbffbnndbdv shs hsgd hs dhw hyd d

    1 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2013

    review

    This is the second book I have read and enjoyed it.If you like details of interest with a good murder plot you need to read this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Fantastic book

    This was a wonderful book full or excitement and intrigue and mystery! Loved reading about a character who is flawed and has had hardship and must find his way out. Cant wait to read the next book

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1614 Customer Reviews

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