Monday, January 26, 2009

Historical Significance Adds to Great Drama

Bones of Betrayal
By Jefferson Bass
William Morrow
Advance Readers’ Edition
351 Pages

Revenge sets the stage for another wonderful “Body Farm Novel” in Jefferson Bass’s latest, Bones of Betrayal. If you’re a forensics “anything” fan, and aren’t already reading the works of this superb writing team—Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson, you are indeed missing great drama and excellent writing as well as the expert knowledge from the founder of the original University of Tennessee’s Body Farm!

This latest novel also could be identified as an excellent historical novel as the setting takes us to Oak Ridge and the original Manhattan Project that resulted in the atomic bombs that were used during World War II to destroy two Japanese cities. Much can be learned by reading about that period in America’s history. And while revenge plays the role in the major event in this novel, the murder of the primary physicist and designer of a plutonium reactor there at Oak Ridge, that combines with a different tale about the death of a missing GI from the war and how he was killed.

Bill Brockton from the Anthropology Research Facility at UT, along with his graduate assistant, Miranda Lovelady, are caught right in the middle of this fantastic drama when they are notified that a body has been found, frozen, in a pool. Bill grabs his trusty chainsaw, which later lends a bit of humor throughout the novel, and proceeds to cut out the body and take it to the morgue. Unfortunately, that’s when the horror begins, as it is discovered that the body is that of Dr. Leonard Novak and he has been murdered using a pill-size piece of one of the most dangerous types of radioactive material available. But what is worse is that his body is still radioactive and anybody who came in contact with it, including those in the morgue had been contaminated! Readers are exposed to the horrors of this terrible weapon as hazardous material experts are called in and work begins to encase one small piece of “death.”

While the police and other agents try to gather information, only Bill Brockton is able to establish a relationship with 90-year-old Beatrice Montgomery, ex-wife to Dr. Novak, who shares personal stories about those years of working at the defense plant. At the same time, he also meets one of the librarians who assists him in his research—and into a personal relationship. Caught in his concern for co-workers who were exposed to the radiation, caught in two relationships with women who seem to have personal ties to present events, Bill is torn and emotionally involved as he works to find out exactly what happened.

The drama and suspense is great; however, I think that this historically grounded novel provides much more than the usual Body Farm scenarios...I applaud highlighting the events behind and surrounding the atomic bomb use during WWII and creating such an exciting manner in which to share this tale! This is a must-read recommendation for me!

G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine

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