Kerry Hammond is here to review the latest book in the Body Farm series, by Jefferson Bass. The Body Farm is a real place. Did you know that?
Several things drew me to The Breaking Point by Jefferson Bass. First, the main character, Dr. Bill Brockton, is a forensic anthropologist—something I find fascinating. Second, in the book Dr. Brockton’s character created the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Research Facility. Many people know this by its other, more famous name….The Body Farm. The facility is used to study decomposition of bodies (yes, real ones) and other things like bug activity on a corpse. The data obtained here helps law enforcement and forensic scientists determine how long a person has been dead and many other factors used to aid criminal investigations. Here’s the best part, Jefferson Bass is a two person writing team consisting of Jon Jefferson, a journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker, and Dr. Bill Bass, the forensic anthropologist who actually created the Body Farm, in real life.
In the book, Dr. Brockton is well known in the investigative world because of his research and creation of the Body Farm. When a plane crashes in the mountains outside of San Diego, not far from the Mexican border, they ask for his help in identifying any remains that may be found. He joins the team of investigators at the crash site and finds what he believes to be conclusive evidence that the person who died in the place crash was Richard Janus, a wealthy business man and founder of a non-profit relief organization. The FBI goes public with the identification, and Dr. Brockton gives evidence at a press conference as to his proof.
Once he’s back home, everything begins to fall apart. His identification is questioned, leaving his name tarnished and turning an FBI investigation upside down. At the same time, he receives an envelope in the mail, hand delivered, from an incarcerated serial killer who attempted to kill Brockton and his whole family prior to going to jail. The item inside the envelope is disturbing to say the least.
This book is fast paced and well written. Brockton is a great character and the reader is drawn into his corner when the press, the FBI and other outside factors threaten him, his reputation, and his family. I found the discussion of the origin and use of the Body Farm to be fascinating and such a great idea around which to revolve a series. Knowing that the information wasn’t just researched, but actually written by the creator makes all the difference. Great characters, great book, great series.
Whenever I jump into a series in the middle, I feel the need to comment on the ability of the book to stand on its own. This is the 9th book in the Body Farm series, but it was the first one I’ve read. There were ties-ins to previous books, but I didn’t feel that there were so many that I regretting reading this book out of order. If you need to, however, you should start with Book #1 and read through. It’s what I plan to do.
To see a tour of the Body Farm on the authors' website, click here.