Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm Stuck On Repeat... 'The Devil's Bones' Is Just as Amazing as The First Two Body Farm Books (And I Can't Stop Raving!)

I know it gets tiresome to continually hawk the benefits of one author over and over (for three posts now!). But technically Jefferson Bass is TWO authors... So does that make it different? Probably not, but I don't care... The Body Farm series is continuing to entertain and amaze me, now three books in.

The third novel in the series, The Devil's Bones, continues the story of Dr. Bill Brockton, University of Tennessee professor and Body Farm founder. You need to read the first two novels to really appreciate this one, as it delves deeper into a storyline about a former-colleague-turned-murderer who still has a bone to pick with Brockton (pun intended).

Forensically, the novel discusses the affect of fire on bones. The book begins with a case of a woman who died in an automobile fire. There are reasons to suspect foul play, but the main suspect -- the woman's husband -- was thousands of miles away in Las Vegas at the time of her demise. Brockton conducts experiments to study the affect burning bones has on new and old bones. New, or "green", bones burn in a spiral pattern that develops from the moisture in them being released quickly, so that the layers of bone are almost steamed. Older, dry bones burn in a linear, heavily patterned way, much like old logs in a fire. Think about the end of logs burned in a fireplace or bonfire -- a crosshatch pattern. That's how you can tell the difference in new and old bones, therefore also being able to tell the difference between whether a body was burned soon after death or a lengthy amount of time after death.

To go along with the burning bones experiments, Jefferson Bass (a team of both Dr. Bill Bass, the actual Body Farm founder from UT, and journalist Jon Jefferson) also addresses a real-life case that I remember from my college years in Chattanooga. In 2002, a Georgia crematorium was discovered to have been not performing its duties as advertised (and as it was paid for). During a search of the property that resulted from anonymous tips to the GBI, more than 300 bodies were found buried and piled up on the property. The crematorium had been sending back to families a mixture of human and animal bones, concrete mix, and filler materials rather than the remains of their loved ones. Bass places Brockton thick in the middle of this case, one that was extremely interesting to me, as I remember vividly watching CNN's 24-hour coverage of the property search and ongoing investigation. Real-life Body Farm professor and author Dr. Bill Bass worked some of the cases, which gave him an inside view and factual representation of the story in this novel.

I think I've gone on enough... Go get these books! (My mom has them in hand and has already started the first one, soon to be followed by my other family members.)


  1. These sound so good! Thanks for sharing the awesome info, I'll definitely have to find these books. :)

  2. I'm in the middle of a documentary about the body farm at UT right now - it's fascinating but not for those with a weak stomach! I'm definitely going to have to check out this series!



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