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The Bone Yard
The Bone Yard by Jefferson Bass
by Jefferson Bass

Dr. Bill Brockton leaves the Body Farm, a human decomposition research facility at the University of Tennessee, to investigate a Georgia death and a decades old mystery in the panhandle of Florida. When Angie St. Claire, a forensic analyst at the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, asks help from Dr. Bill Brockton, he can't refuse.   Local authorities in Georgia have ruled her sister's death a suicide but Angie believes her sister was murdered by her brother-in-law.  Can Brockton help her prove it?  When he discovers two skulls with lethal fractures, this investigation takes a backseat as the two join Special Agent Stu Vickery to find the lost victims.  The investigation leads to the North Florida Boys' Reformatory, a juvenile detention century.   Most of the records were destroyed in a fire forty years ago.  When a hidden diary surfaces, the claims of horrific events at the reform school, Brockton and team must look to the bones for answers.  Local figures are not helpful to say the least.  As the past comes to the surface, the present becomes more and more perilous!

Writing duo Jefferson Bass (forensic anthropologist Bill Bass and journalist Jon Jefferson)
team up in this sixth Body Farm novel to write a fictional thriller based on a true story of a real Florida institution.  THE BONE YARD is fast-paced suspense with intriguing scientific clues to thrill the intellect and glue a reader to the pages.  The science is a refreshing and most welcome change from the typical suspense.  Was the finding of the diary a little too convenient. Yes, but it still made for great reading as the author's brought back the voice, not just the bones, of the victims to the current day.  The diary reminds one that the victims are indeed real and that history is lived by real people.   The ending, though fast-paced, veers more into the typical genre suspense ending.  While thriller lovers are accustomed to this typical mad race and escalating danger, I still found myself disappointed.  THE BONE YARD is such a wonderful, exciting change of pace within the thriller genre, that I could not help but feel this book would have been truly outstanding if the authors had taken a bit more risk and veered from the suspense genre formula to end the book in a more unique way.  For most of the book, I felt THE BONE YARD would be one of the best books I had read all year so when the ending veered from scientific clues to a more typical fast-paced action scene with perils to the main character, my thrill in finally finding something different was lowered.  Perhaps the ending is part of the expectation of a more general fictional audience, and as such, will please readers looking for both something different yet still part of suspense expectations.  I still highly recommend this book, especially to suspense lovers.  The author balances the disturbing investigation with a sense of humor in the characters.  The path of the clues is more intellectually interesting than the television trend to ramp up the gore of forensic investigations.  

A reader need not read the preceding books to enjoy this particular book in the Body Farm series, although reading this one left this reader eager to read more by this author team.

Publisher:  Willliam Morrow (March 8, 2011)
Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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