Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book 6 ~ Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass

Carved in Bone ~ Jefferson Bass

This is the first novel from the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bass is one of the world's leading forensic anthropologists and the founder of "The Body Farm" in Tennessee, a leading tool in forensic anthropology. Jon Jefferson is a veteran filmmaker and journalist. I've known of Dr. Bass for years, even before reading about The Body Farm and watching C.S.I, ever since I took forensic anthropology in university, and his book Human Osteology was our textbook. So when I was digging through the library shelves a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a novel by Jefferson Bass. I immediately took it home when I realized who it was. It was NOT this book though, it was their third novel, The Devil's Bones. So because I read them out of order, I knew some of the story already.

This book has such a soft spot to me though. At two points in the book they mention Patricia Cornwell/Kay Scarpetta. Once at the beginning when they are talking about how the Anthropology Research Facility has been coined 'The Body Farm' thanks to Patricia Cornwell's novel, and the second time they mention Kay Scarpetta as one of the coroners they can call in on their case. Both instances made me smile.

Plot-wise, it's a pretty standard murder mystery. What makes this book (and the later novels by them) so interesting is the in-depth Body Farm details and all the little behind-the-scenes activity that happen while working on a case. It may be more interesting to me because of courses I've taken in the past (and my inappropriate love of forensic type books, tv shows and movies) but anyone who is a fan of forensics would enjoy it. The writing is sharp and snappy too and I found myself fully involved in the main character, who is loosely based on Dr. Bass himself.

All three of their novels that I've read have been great. The writing and plots got stronger in the later books, and I have some of the non-fiction they've written on my list for later this year. A good strong mystery novel and one I'd probably pick up again to read. That soft spot can't be denied.

Book 5 - Cruel and Unusual by Patricia D. Cornwell

Cruel and Unusual ~ Patricia D. Cornwell

After my disastrous experience reading Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell, I decided to go back and re-read the older Kay Scarpetta series to see if my memories of the books were accurate. Cruel and Unusual was the book I was ready to start when Cannonball Read started, so it was the next Scarpetta book I read. It also introduces the antagonist that Kay Scarpetta runs up against in future book and sets the stage for Lucy, Kay's niece to begin playing a larger role in the books.

Cruel and Unusual starts with Scarpetta doing a routine autopsy on an executed prisoner but quickly discovers that not all is as it appears. Someone is also hacking into her computer files at work and she enlists the help of her niece Lucy, who is now 17. Evidence is found that the executed prisoner isn't who they think he was and fingerprints and other evidence shows up after he's dead at fresh crime scenes. Kay, Pete and Benton, along with Lucy's computer skills work on trying to figure out who was actually executed and who the new serial killer is. Lucy's genius behind the computer screen is delved into a little bit more and her character is setup stronger for future books in this one. The actual plot involving Kay and her investigation isn't much different from the plots in other books, but she comes up against some internal roadblocks within the coroners' office and the state government that was nice in adding depth to the story.

There's not too many plot twists or surprises, but it's a decently fun, quick read. The most enjoyable part was the greater role Lucy has and the introduction of Kay's nemesis for the next few books. It's a good book to pop into a bag when catching a flight and if you leave it behind, it won't be a loss. It's not Cornwell's strongest work, but it's also not her worst either.