Title: Flesh and Bone
Author: Jefferson Bass
Release Date: December 26, 2007
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
In the second of the Body Farm mysteries, Dr. Bill Brockton continues his work as the head of the institution. Their latest case is the brutal murder of a homosexual man, and as Bill and his assistant Miranda try to help the police with solving that mystery, Bill finds himself in hot water. After giving a heated lecture to his students about the travesty of teaching a literal interpretation of the Bible in schools, Brockton finds himself the target of a protest by fundamentalist Christians. Bill must use his skills to fix both of these problems, especially when things get personal and Bill himself becomes the suspect in a murder.
Flesh and Bone picks up right after Carved in Bone, with Dr. Bill Brockton going about his days at the Body Farm. His work is incredibly interesting; though I’m not always interested in the more grisly aspects of the human body, especially when it comes to decay, Bass has a unique ability to describe processes in detail without making my stomach turn. I enjoyed just going about Bill’s days with him, and it made for very interesting reading as the novel’s plot was being set up.
The book has two different plotlines; first is the murder of the young man, which Dr. Brockton believes might be a hate crime. The second is Bill’s issue with the Christian fundamentalists and how that unfolds. I’ll admit, I found the second plotline a bit random and didn’t fully understand its inclusion in the novel. That being said, it provides interesting character development for Dr. Brockton and really illuminates a lot about the man he is. It didn’t mesh as well as I’d hoped with the primary storyline, but overall it was an interesting choice.
As Flesh and Bone progresses, the mystery becomes incredibly intriguing. I don’t want to elaborate on how Bill gets personally involved in it because it is a major spoiler, but I will say I love the twists and turns the novel took. I was impressed with Bass’ daring and his (their? I feel strange referring to Bass as one person when I know it’s the pseudonym for a writing team) choices when it came to the long-term storyline of the series.
If you enjoyed the first book in the series, Flesh and Bone is definitely worth reading. And if you haven’t heard of the Body Farm novels, they are a must-read for anyone interested in forensic investigations into crimes. I’d recommend reading the books in order if you want to get to know the characters, but if your primary interest is the grisly forensics, this is a fine place to start.