Flesh and Bone (Body Farm Series #2)

Flesh and Bone (Body Farm Series #2)

3.9 477
by Jefferson Bass
     
 

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Dr. Bill Brockton, the founder of the world-famous Body Farm, is hard at work on a troubling new case. A young man's battered body has been found in nearby Chattanooga, and it's up to the talented Dr. Brockton to assemble the pieces of the forensic puzzle. Brockton is brought into the case by the rising star of the state's mechanical examiners, Jess Carter.

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Overview

Dr. Bill Brockton, the founder of the world-famous Body Farm, is hard at work on a troubling new case. A young man's battered body has been found in nearby Chattanooga, and it's up to the talented Dr. Brockton to assemble the pieces of the forensic puzzle. Brockton is brought into the case by the rising star of the state's mechanical examiners, Jess Carter.

Just as they're on the verge of breaking the case open, events take a terrifying turn. Brockton has re-created the Chattanooga death scene at the Body Farm, but a killer tampers with it in a shocking way: placing another corpse at the setting, confusing authorities and putting Brockton's career and life in jeopardy. Soon Brockton himself is accused of the horrific new crime, and the once-beloved professor becomes an outcast. As the net around him tightens, Brockton must use all of his forensic skills to prove his own innocence . . . before he ends up behind bars with some of the very killers he's helped to convict.

Flesh and Bone is another roller-coaster ride into the world of forensic anthropology, its twists and turns marked by drama and pathos, humor and grief, families and friends and enemies. With captivatingly real characters, plus fascinating scientific insights drawn from the case files of a living forensic legend, this astonishing novel confirms Jefferson Bass as one of our most talented authors of suspense.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of the entertaining second Body Farm novel from the pseudonymous Bass (the writing team of forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass and journalist Jon Jefferson), Dr. Bill Brockton ties a dead man dressed in drag to a tree at the Body Farm (a facility he heads outside Knoxville, Tenn., devoted to researching postmortem decay), in an effort to replicate a recent murder. Dr. Bill's just beginning a romantic relationship with another participant in this experiment, Chattanooga medical examiner Dr. Jess Carter. The story veers wildly from fascinating forensics with a high yuck factor to sophomoric and corny romantic byplay, often in the same scene. Fans of the bestselling first book in the series, Carved in Bone, and readers with a penchant for the gross and grisly will take to Dr. Bill, a hero with a big heart who isn't afraid to tackle complicated issues while solving mildly engrossing mysteries. Dr. Bass and Jefferson are the coauthors of Death's Acre, about the actual Body Farm. 7-city author tour. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
With his lover's body on the slab, Dr. Bill Brockton of the Body Farm (the only lab devoted to the study of human decomposition) finds himself a suspect in his second case. Bass is the pen name of Dr. Bill Bass, founder of the University of Tennessee's Body Farm, and veteran journalist Jon Jefferson. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bone man Bill Brockton is back on the case and ready for another round of forensics fun in this second thriller from writing team Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass (Carved in Bone, 2006). When we last left UT anthropology professor Brockton, he was tying up the loose ends of a backwoods murder mystery. There's no rest for the weary, though, and as this entry opens, the good doctor is knee-deep in another investigation-the gruesome murder and mutilation of a Chattanooga-area transvestite. Brockton's interest in the crime goes beyond mere professional curiosity. Jess Carter is the medical examiner on the case, and it would seem that the professor is, yes, in love. Thus, it's doubly unfortunate when Carter turns up dead. Detective John Evers has fingered Brockton as the prime suspect in the killing, which means that in addition to seeing his budding romance crushed, Brockton might well be on his way to the slammer. Brockton has always been the talkative sort, and even in these dark times he manages to produce a steady stream of commentary regarding the pressing issues of the day: evolution (good), child-molesting (bad), the criminal underclass (potentially troubling), lesbian sex (undecided but open-minded). Between the doctor's windy pronouncements and his briefly burgeoning love life, there's precious little time for actual crime-fighting. There's a bit of anthropology talk and a pretty nifty sequence involving a forensics video expert, but, too often, instead of wowing with CSI-style science, the book bores with its ham-handed focus on Brockton. When character development is clumsily handled, readers start to long for a return to the action. Call it a sophomore slump. Agent: GilesAnderson/Anderson Literary Agency
Nancy Sapir
“A smashing crime novel.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060759841
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/01/2008
Series:
Body Farm Series, #2
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

Flesh and Bone

A Body Farm Novel
By Jefferson Bass

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Jefferson Bass
All right reserved.



Chapter One

The chain-link gate yowled like an angry tomcat in the watery light of dawn. Once my jaw unclenched, I made a mental note to bring grease for the hinges next time I came out to the Body Farm. Don't forget, I chided myself, just as I had each of the past half dozen times I'd mentally made and mislaid that same damn note.

It wasn't that my memory was failing, or so I liked to believe. It was just that every time I headed for the Anthropology Research Facility, as the University of Tennessee preferred to call the Body Farm, I had more interesting things on my mind than WD-40. Things like the experiment I was about to rig with the body in the pickup truck Miranda was backing toward the facility's gate.

It never ceased to amaze me, and to frustrate me, that the Body Farm remained the world's only research facility devoted to the systematic study of postmortem decomposition. As an imperfect human being, with failings and vanities, I did take a measure of pride in the uniqueness of my creation. As a forensic anthropologist, though--a "bone detective" who had branched out into seeking clues in decaying flesh as well--I looked forward to the day when our data on decomp rates in the moist, temperate climate of Tennessee could be compared with rates from similar research facilities in the low desert of Palm Springs, the high desert of Albuquerque, the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, or the alpine slopes of the Montana Rockies. But every time I thought a colleague in one of those ecosystems was on the verge of creating a counterpart to the Body Farm, the university in question would chicken out, and we would remain unique, isolated, and scientifically alone.

Over the past twenty-five years, my graduate students and I had staged hundreds of human bodies in various settings and scenarios to study their postmortem decay. Shallow graves, deep graves, watery graves, concrete-capped graves. Air-conditioned buildings, heated buildings, screened-in porches. Automobile trunks, backseats, travel trailers. Naked bodies, cotton-clad bodies, polyester-suited bodies, plastic-wrapped bodies. But I'd never thought to stage anything like the gruesome death scene Miranda and I were about to re-create for Jess Carter.

Jess--Dr. Jessamine Carter--was the medical examiner in Chattanooga. For the past six months she'd been the acting ME for Knoxville's Regional Forensic Center as well. She'd been promoted, if that's the right word, to this dual status by virtue of a spectacular screwup by our own ME, Dr. Garland Hamilton. During what no one but Hamilton himself would have described as an autopsy, he had so badly misdiagnosed a man's cause of death--describing a superficial accidental cut as a "fatal stab wound"--that an innocent bystander ended up charged with murder. When his mistake came to light, Hamilton was promptly relieved of his duties; now, he was about to be relieved of his medical license, if the licensing review board did its job right. Meanwhile, until a qualified replacement could be appointed, Jess was filling in, making the hundred-mile trek up I-75 from Chattanooga to Knoxville anytime an unexplained or violent death occurred in our neck of the Tennessee woods.

The commute wasn't as time-consuming for Jess as it would have been for me. Her Porsche Carrera--fire-engine red, fittingly enough--generally covered the hundred miles in fifty minutes or so. The first state trooper to pull her over had gotten a quick glimpse of her badge and a brisk talking-to about the urgency of her mission before she left him standing on the interstate's shoulder. The second unfortunate officer, a week later, got a verbal vivisection, followed by scorching cellphone calls to the highway patrol's district commander and state commissioner. She had not been stopped a third time.

Jess had phoned at six to say she'd be in Knoxville this morning, so unless she'd been called to a Chattanooga murder scene in the past half hour, the Carrera was streaking our way now, closing like a cruise missile. I hoped I could get the body in place by the time she hit Knoxville.' As Miranda eased the UT pickup toward the fence, the backup lights helped me fit the key into the padlock on the inner gate. The inner gate was part of an eight-foot wooden privacy fence, erected to deter marauding coyotes and squeamish humans--or voyeuristic ones. Originally we'd had only the chain-link fence, but after a couple of years, a few complaints, and a handful of thrill seekers, we topped the chain-link with barbed wire and lined the entire half-mile perimeter with the wooden barrier. It was still possible for nimble critters and determined people to climb in or see over, but it took some doing.'

The padlock securing the wooden gate sprang open with a satisfying click. I unhooked one end of the chain from the shackle and began walking the gate inward. As the opening widened, the chain began snaking into the hole bored near the gate's edge, like some metallic noodle being slurped up with clattering gusto. Sucked into the maw of death, I thought. Is that a mixed metaphor, or just a nasty image best kept to myself?

As I held the wooden gate open, Miranda threaded the narrow opening with ease, as if she made deliveries to death's service entrance on a daily basis. She practically did. For the past three years, thanks to a spate of television documentaries and the popularity of CSI--a show I'd watched only one incredulous time--we were swamped with donated bodies, and the waiting list (as I called the ranks of the living who had promised us their bodies eventually) now numbered nearly a thousand. We'd soon be running out of room; already, in fact, it was hard to take a step without stumbling over a body or stepping on a patch of greasy ground where a corpse had recently decomposed.



Continues...

Excerpted from Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass Copyright © 2007 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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Nancy Sapir
“A smashing crime novel.”

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