Crime and science slug it out in this second book from writing team Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass (Death’s Acre, 2003), a neatly-done mystery aimed straight at the CSI set.
It’s just another day on the job for University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton. Tom Kitchings, sheriff of hardscrabble Cooke County, has invited him out to look at a body, hoping that the crime-fighting professor will be able to draw a few clues from the corpse. Brockton’s investigation has only begun to get rolling, though, when suggestions start to come from the county’s hidden mountain hollows that this mystery might be better left unsolved. From there the tale turns into a whirl of backwoods shenanigans—cockfights, drug-running, family feuds—with just enough science thrown in to make readers feel like they’ve learned something. The book slows a bit whenever the story drifts to the agonies of the good doctor’s love life, but these digressions are mercifully brief. The whole affair grows more and more noirish, with the plot’s convolutions culminating in a finale that finds fresh bodies hitting the floor in an unexpected pattern.
Southern-fried forensics. Nothing too fancy, but it does taste good going down.