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Dancing a fine line between ethics and friendship...

  • May 30, 2010
For some reason, I've never read any of the Body Farm novels by the team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson (hence, the author pen name of Jefferson Bass). I'm not quite sure why, as I like the forensic anthropology genre made popular by Cornwell and Reichs. So to rectify that, I picked up the latest book in the series, The Bone Thief. I'm guessing I'll end up going back to read the earlier ones also, as The Bone Thief was enjoyable and well written.

The story revolves around Dr. Bill Brockton, the person who runs the Body Farm, a place where bodies are left to the elements in order to study the effects of nature on decomposition. He's asked by a local lawyer to look at a body that's being exhumed as part of a paternity suit. When the casket is opened, they find that someone had taken a few of the body parts before burial. Other disinterments show that the funeral home involved in these burials was also involved in the trafficking of body parts, and Brockton is reluctantly enlisted by the FBI to play a part in a sting operation to try and uncover who is buying and selling. This puts him in an extremely difficult position in terms of ethics, as he can't tell his lead assistant what is going on. She uncovers his involvement, mistaking it for actual trafficking, and submits her resignation. Unless the FBI closes the case quickly, Brockton stands to lose his reputation, his job, and possibly even his life. There is a lot of money involved in the trafficking business, and they don't really like to have their operations disrupted.

There are a couple of subplots running through the novel, both of which are continuations from the prior novel in the series. I really wish I had read that one first, as it would have helped quite a bit here. He's trying to reconcile his affair with a fellow doctor of Japanese descent, who turns out to be a killer motivated by revenge by the atomic bombs dropped during World War II. She escapes capture, and Brockton wonders what's become of her. This concern gets ratcheted up even higher when one of her hideouts is found, and it appears that she's now pregnant, very possibly carrying Brockton's baby. The other subplot involves a medical examiner who was subjected to an extremely high dose of radiation during the autopsy of the person killed by Brockton's lover. His hands were destroyed, and his only chance of regaining a normal life is a double hand replacement. But that's rarely done, and finding donors is next to impossible. Will Brockton use his place in the trafficking scheme to try and help his friend regain a normal life? What line will he cross to help a friend if the actions don't harm a living person?

I found the blend between story and ethics to be balanced and effective. Too often the author has a point he or she wants to make, and they bludgeon the reader with it. That's not the case in The Bone Thief. The only thing that kept me from completely diving into the story was the missing backstory on the characters as they interact here. If you're making your first foray into the Body Farm series, try not to do it here. You'd probably enjoy the story if you do end up here first, but I think it would be a much richer experience if the backstory is in place first.

Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

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More The Bone Thief: A Body Farm No... reviews
review by . July 16, 2010
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.    The Bone Thief by Jefferson Bass is the second Body Farm novel I have read, and I'm sad to say it is just not any better than the first. Jefferson Bass, a composite of Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass, have joined the growing glut of authors cashing in on the CSI craze by writing about forensic anthropologists and/or medical examiners or pathologists, however Kathy Reichs, Karin …
review by . May 10, 2010
This is my first book by Jefferson Bass (actually a pair of authors, Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson). When I began this book, it sounded like a story about grave robbing. I didn't find it all that interesting in the beginning, but it definitely got interesting later! It turns out to be a story about the (mostly illegal) ways in which bodies or body parts are stolen for purposes such as biomedical testing and companies who train surgeons to perform new surgeries.       The story's …
review by . April 01, 2010
The top -notch team of Dr.Bill Bass, who founded the Body Farm, and Jon Jefferson, a crackerjack journalist, writing as Jefferson Bass does not let you down in this interesting, literate and informative Body Farm novel. In the event you are not familiar with the Body Farm, a tract of 2.5 acres funded by the University of Tennessee had been designated under Bass's direction to document the progression of decay of human bodies. In forensic science investigators need to know when the person in question …
review by . March 25, 2010
   To date the topnotch team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson writing as Jefferson Bass has brought us a number of forensic thrillers, Bones Of Betrayal (2009), The Devil's Bones (2008), Flesh and Bone (2007). Each is solidly based on accurate forensic science, well plotted, and chillingly rendered. Precisely what readers would come to expect from Bass who is known throughout the world for his expertise as a forensic anthropologist and founder of the University of Tennessee's Body Farm. …
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Thomas Duff ()
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Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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About this book


New York Times bestselling author Jefferson Bass delivers an authentic and knuckle-biting thriller in which forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton must confront a crime of unimaginable proportions on his own doorstep. Find out why Booklist says, "Fans of forensic fiction will want to add this author to their list of favorites."

The Bone Thief

Dr. Bill Brockton has been called in on a seemingly routine case, to exhume a body and obtain a bone sample for a DNA paternity test. But when the coffin is opened, Brockton and his colleagues, including his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady, are stunned to see that the corpse has been horribly violated.

Brockton’s initial shock gives way to astonishment as he uncovers a flourishing and lucrative black market in body parts. At the center of this ghoulish empire is a daring and prosperous grave robber. Soon Brockton finds himself drawn into the dangerous enterprise when the FBI recruits him to bring down the postmortem chop shop—using corpses from the Body Farm as bait in an undercover sting operation.

As Brockton struggles to play the unscrupulous role the FBI asks of him, his friend and colleague medical examiner Eddie Garcia faces a devastating injury that could end his career. Exposed to a near-lethal dose of radioactivity, Dr. Garcia has lost most of his right hand and his entire left hand. Out of options, he embarks on a desperate quest: both of his ravaged hands will be severed at the wrist and ...

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ISBN-10: 0061284769
ISBN-13: 978-0061284762
Author: Jefferson Bass
Publisher: William Morrow

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