Monday, June 5, 2017

D. J. Donaldson Brings Us Another Broussard/Franklyn Mystery! An Unsolvable One - Cool!

To the brilliant sound of Mozart's Violin Concerto #4 issuing from the autopsy room's sound system, Broussard circled the steel table holding the now naked body of the Bayou Sauvage shooter, a lean, moderately muscled male Caucasian between 30 and 40 years old lying face up, his arms aligned along his torso. The old pathologist checked the form on the clipboard in his hand.
"You noted the degree of rigor in the limbs as a three when you prepared him," Broussard said to his assistant, Guy Minoux.
Guy nodded, "Right."
"Did you have to break it, to get him undressed?" He asked the question because once broken, when rigor resumes, it isn't as extensive in the disturbed muscles as in those left alone.
"No, I was careful not to, and the position of his arms made it pretty easy to avoid."
Broussard trusted Guy completely, so that ordinarily, the old pathologist wouldn't have checked the degree of rigor for himself. But it had only been three hours since the gunman had killed himself, and for much of the time the body had been submerged in water that was surely cooler than the ambient spring air. Though the degree of rigor was not a reliable time of death indicator, a rating of three seemed high for the circumstances. He explained this to Guy, who nodded and said, "Would you mind checkin' it too. I don't want anybody lookin' at me and rollin' their eyes if this becomes a problem later."
Guy swished his hand at Broussard in a gesture of dismissal, "Nahh, we been through too much of this stuff together for me to think that."
"I'm sure you're right about this, but...just to be safe..." Broussard headed for the cadavr's right arm. When he was in the proper position, he gently tested the limb's resistance to flexion of the elbow. He tried to raise the arm at the shoulder, then tested the right leg. Nodding he said, "I agree...level three."
He shifted his attention to the head, where he carefully tried to move it from side to side before pulling down on the lower jaw. In keeping with the established principle that rigor begins in the short muscles of the jaw and neck before the long extremity muscles, Broussard judged right in the former to be a level four. So there was agreement between these different areas.
Broussard moved to the other side of the head, reached up, and adjusted the light over the table. He then bent down and studied the self-inflicted gunshot wound on the cadaver's temple. What he saw was unexpected. The blast of gasses from the gun had split the man's skin in a star shape and there was no soot around the wound. Of course, immersion in the swamp would likely have washed any gunshot residue from the skin, but that star shape...

Assassination at Bayou Sauvage:
An Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn Mystery

By D. J. Donaldson

Forensics science intrigues me--it plays such a major part in solving some mysteries. And in this one, especially... Who would have guessed, for instance, that what had been seen by many eye witnesses, wasn't what actually happened! That's when the work of our main character, Andy Broussard, amazes his fans!

This time it was personal, though... Andy had been at a birthday party picnic for his uncle, Joe Broussard, when he was killed. In fact, Andy had been sitting right beside him at a picnic table when he was shot! And so as the investigation began, another ME was handling his autopsy, while Andy was working the man who had killed him. That is, he was conducting the autopsy of a man who, from a boat, shot himself and fell from his boat. Only during autopsy, however, did Andy begin to question what he and others had really seen that day...

At the same time, Kit Franklyn, a death investigator working for Andy normally, is called in to serve as an acting police detective to try to find a missing local woman...

Gator Willie's was so busy Kit could barely get in the door. The clientele looked mostly like college kids trying to be "relevant." That meant clean cut guys wearing one earring and hair standing up like a spiky rooster comb; girls with a small nasal diamond or streaks of some odd color in their hair. She saw no guys with facial tattoos or girls with partially shaved heads or lip rings. That didn't mean everyone there was harmless. Some of the most depraved men that ever lived were normal looking or even handsome. There were also plenty of attractive but cold-blooded females now locked up for life. She had the distinct feeling that someone in Gator Willie's knew where Betty Bergeron was.
At the far end of the big room, about two dozen couples were dancing to a Zydeco song called "Dog Hill" by Boozoo Chavis, her knowledge of the piece coming from years of being around her fiancee, Teddy LaBiche.
At the bar, she slid onto the only empty stool...One of the girls came her way. "What can I get you sweetie?"
Noting that the round white badge on the girl's shirt said her name was Claudia, Kit flashed her new ID. "NOPD," she said. I'm trying to find Betty Bergeron. Were you working Thursday night?
The girl's flashing black eyes lost their luster. "Yeah, I was here. Did something happen to her? She's missed a couple shifts..."
The lot had been so crowded when eh'd arrived that Kit had to part partially on the grass at the far end of the asphalt. When she reached the spot her car looked lower than usual. A quick inspection of the tires with the flashlight app on her cell phone showed that all four were flat...

In addition to the exciting action and danger, especially for Kit, during this investigation, the most intriguing part of the story is that little by little, it is discovered that  all of what is happening involves Andy Broussard's family!

And that leads to much introspection on Andy's part as he realized that he knows very little about the family members, even those that live close. As he found himself, having to check and recheck the list of those invited to the birthday party versus who was actually there, Andy realized that he even knew little about his uncle who had been killed...

While Andy shares his inner turmoil and confusion, readers get to meet and learn more about Kit's fiancee, especially when Kit is hurt and needs full-time protection... which happens to also help as they finally come to a decision about where they will live, once married...

I think I can truthfully claim that I've seen every television show that included a forensics scientist in their story...Of those, although he has not yet achieved television fame...yet, I have enjoyed Andy Broussard more than any other, for his personality, his expertise and for being a character that clearly has a medical background (from his author) used for creating realistic mysteries (or thrillers)_ What makes me choose him is because the stories match the main character better than most others I've read or seen... Although our Bones is close, it really is an entirely different type of story, don't you think?

Indeed in this book, readers see him deal with personal feelings as he loses one family member after another while dealing with the many twists and turns that arrive constantly. At the same time, he works with the others studying, analyzing, and helping to lead toward a climatic conclusion that involved his sister who had died years ago!

One other character I enjoy adds a bit of paranormal to the story that, in my opinion, greatly enhances the intrigue as Grandma O. who owns a local restaurant contacts Andy to alert him of something to soon occur! A little psychic power thrown against revelatory autopsy findings, matched with dangerous situations during the investigation itself, as more people die, all come together to make this, in my opinion, the best of the best of the Broussard/Franklin far... And, D. J. Donaldson, could you not wait so long to bring this great series back to us next time! I love and highly recommend this and the earlier books if you love forensics mysteries as much as I do!


D.J. (Don) Donaldson is a retired medical school professor. Born and raised in Ohio, he obtained a Ph.D. in human anatomy at Tulane, then spent his entire academic career at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. In addition to being the author of several dozen scientific articles on wound healing, he has written seven forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers. Don Donaldson, who also writes as D. J. Donaldson, in his professional career, has taught microscopic anatomy to over 5,000 medical and dental students and published dozens of research papers on wound healing. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his wife and two West Highland terriers. Visit Don at his website ( and his Facebook page (

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