Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bone Yard

I picked up "The Bone Yard" (291 pages) by Jefferson Bass at the store in the airport on my way to Atlanta last week, having nothing at hand to read on the plane. I didn't know anything about the author or the series but the cover and description looked intriguing. From Goodreads:

"The onset of summer brings steamy weather to East Tennessee and the Body Farm, Dr. Bill Brockton's human-decomposition research facility at the University of Tennessee. But even Brockton is about to get more heat than he's bargained for when a former student asks him to help prove that her sister's death was not suicide, but murder.

Brockton's quick consulting trip takes a long, harrowing detour to the Florida panhandle and the ruins of the North Florida Boys' Reformatory, a notorious juvenile detention facility that met a fiery end more than forty years ago. Guided by the discovery of a diary kept by one of the school's young 'students,' he finds a cluster of shallow graves, all of them containing the bones of boys who met violent deaths. As Brockton and his team close in on the truth, they find skeletons in some surprisingly prominent closets . . . and they learn that the ghosts of the past pose perilous consequences in the present."

First off does anyone else find Blogger's new interface a little wonky? Anyhow, the "Body Farm" series of books is a collaboration between the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson, hence the author's name of Jefferson Bass. Think of the stories as similar to the television series "Bones" featuring a forensic anthropologist as the central figure.

The novel started off well enough with an investigation of suicide by shotgun and quickly evolved into another side story about the discovery of several bones of young men unearthed near the Georgia/Florida border. I never felt that the two different plots meshed well together, ultimately leaving both stories lacking in their conclusion. It seemed as though the two stories were moving along fairly well, though separately, until the last forty pages of the book, when the writers ran out of steam and opted for a hurried conclusion. As I've never read a novel in the "Body Farm" series I wasn't sure if this was an aberration or the norm.

An interesting premise of stories overall that fall well short of being thoroughly hashed out. Indeed the conclusions seemed rushed and a little half-assed at the end. Recommended for mystery or forensic thrillers, minimally. I probably won't be returning to this series of novels anytime soon.

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