“Just head, in a patch of ground between two huge branches of the live oak, stood three rows of knee-high crosses – four crosses in two of the rows, three in the other; eleven crosses in all… Vickery eased the Jeep to a stop alongside the nearest row of crosses. ‘Welcome to the Bone Yard,’ he announced.”
The most recent mystery/thriller from the writing duo of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson, together known as Jefferson Bass, is not for the faint of heart. The underlying message here is that human cruelty knows no limits. This book picks up smoothly after the last one in the series, The Bone Thief.
This reviewer began absorbing the book as an Audible download to an iPod that was plugged into the dashboard of her trusty Mini Cooper. The tale began innocuously, as do all the Body Farm novels. The subtle, aw shucks anthropological introduction is followed by a second story line. The first is set in the present day and the second is grounded in the Florida swamps of 40 years ago.
The current day story line revolves around a personal request from Angie St. Claire, a forensic analyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to Dr. Bill Brockton – the main character of the Body Farm mysteries. Angie’s sister has died in a questionable manner and Angie is determined to prove that it was murder. Since Dr. Brockton’s summer hiatus from teaching at the University of Tennessee in the anthropology department has just begun, he is more than willing to travel to Florida to provide Angie with his forensic knowledge.
In the meantime, local law enforcement officials in Florida come into possession of two skulls that need to be identified. Naturally, the task falls to Angie and Dr. Brockton and he, in turn, involves his expert staff to determine the ethnicity, age and gender of the skulls. Along the way clues are revealed that lead to a boy’s reform school. A separate narrative begins in the voice of a young boy who was interned at the reform school.
As the audio novel progressed, the shared themes of graphic descriptions of unimaginable violence made it clear that there might be some value in switching to a hard copy of the book tucked away safely at home. Driving while listening to this sort of content is not conducive to safe driving! The hard copy provided the welcome option of skipping the most horrific scenes of torture, in the guise of attitude adjustment, administered forty years prior to boys who were housed at the reform school sequestered in the woods of Florida.
Both story lines are filled with nagging suspicions and dedicated forensic work that incorporates many jurisdictions. The reader might well hope that this level of cooperation exists in the real world on a widespread basis. There are strong plugs for peace and civility from the team of Jefferson Bass. Moreover, the good guys are very, very good and the villains are rotten to the core.
The tension and intrigue build to a quick paced race against time and evil. The conclusion leaves plenty of opportunities for a future supply of the further exploits of Dr. Bill Brockton. This is a real page turner!
A review copy was provided by the publisher.