Bone man Bill Brockton is back on the case and ready for another round of forensics fun in this second thriller from writing team Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass (Carved in Bone, 2006).
When we last left UT anthropology professor Brockton, he was tying up the loose ends of a backwoods murder mystery. There’s no rest for the weary, though, and as this entry opens, the good doctor is knee-deep in another investigation—the gruesome murder and mutilation of a Chattanooga-area transvestite. Brockton’s interest in the crime goes beyond mere professional curiosity. Jess Carter is the medical examiner on the case, and it would seem that the professor is, yes, in love. Thus, it’s doubly unfortunate when Carter turns up dead. Detective John Evers has fingered Brockton as the prime suspect in the killing, which means that in addition to seeing his budding romance crushed, Brockton might well be on his way to the slammer. Brockton has always been the talkative sort, and even in these dark times he manages to produce a steady stream of commentary regarding the pressing issues of the day: evolution (good), child-molesting (bad), the criminal underclass (potentially troubling), lesbian sex (undecided but open-minded). Between the doctor’s windy pronouncements and his briefly burgeoning love life, there’s precious little time for actual crime-fighting. There’s a bit of anthropology talk and a pretty nifty sequence involving a forensics video expert, but, too often, instead of wowing with CSI-style science, the book bores with its ham-handed focus on Brockton. When character development is clumsily handled, readers start to long for a return to the action.
Call it a sophomore slump.