The Body Farm
“There is a patch of ground in Tennessee dedicated to the science of death, where human remains lie exposed to be studied for their secrets. The real-life scientist who founded the "Body Farm" has broken cold cases and revolutionized forensics . . . and now he spins an astonishing tale inspired by his own experiences.” (Description taken from “Carved in Bone”)
About the Author(s):
Jefferson Bass is the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bass, a world-renowned forensic anthropologist, founded the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility—the Body Farm—a quarter century ago. He is the author or coauthor of more than two hundred scientific publications, as well as a critically acclaimed memoir about his career at the Body Farm, Death's Acre....
Jon Jefferson is a veteran journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. His writings have been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, and Popular Science, and broadcast on National Public Radio. The coauthor of Death's Acre, he is also the writer and producer of two highly rated National Geographic documentaries about the Body Farm. (Taken from “Bones of Betrayal”)
About the Books: Although the story and the characters are fictional, the forensic details, methodology and the Body Farm itself are factual (three such farms are currently operating in the United States for those of you interested) and are taken from Dr. Bill Bass’s personal experiences.
Disclaimer: Just a note for you sensitive readers out there, evidently we are dealing with some pretty gruesome issues (i.e.: the very graphic decomposition of dead bodies, mayhem and murder) so this series may not be for everyone.
Carved in Bone
Renowned anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton has spent his career surrounded by death at the Body Farm. Now he's being called upon to help solve a baffling puzzle in a remote mountain community. The mummified corpse of a young woman dead for thirty years has been discovered in a cave, the body bizarrely preserved and transformed by the environment's unique chemistry. But Brockton's investigation is threatening to open old wounds among an insular people who won't forget or forgive. And a long-buried secret prematurely exposed could inflame Brockton's own guilt—and the dangerous hostility of bitter enemies determined to see him fail . . . by any means necessary. (Product Description)
My Review: Not bad for a fictional debut. I did find this book a little too detail oriented and not in a Patricia Cornwall or Kathy Reichs kind of way…it was more like being lectured at in a university setting, which I guess makes sense given the author’s background. However, there was enough plot and action that carried the mystery and held my interest. At any rate, I thought highly enough of this book to continue on with the series…
Flesh and Bone
Anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton founded Tennessee's world-famous Body Farm—a small piece of land where corpses are left to decay in order to gain important forensic information. Now, in the wake of a shocking crime in nearby Chattanooga, he's called upon by Jess Carter—the rising star of the state's medical examiners—to help her unravel a murderous puzzle. But after re-creating the death scene at the Body Farm, Brockton discovers his career, reputation, and life are in dire jeopardy when a second, unexplained corpse appears in the grisly setting.
Accused of a horrific crime—transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah—Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that's tightening around him . . . and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence. (Product Description)
My Review: I enjoyed this rendition of the Body Farm much better than its debut. Bass corrected many of what I felt were the shortcomings from Carved in Bone to make this book on par with some of the other forensic mystery writers out there. The forensic details were just interesting and grisly enough to be interesting but not too “teachy” and the main characters were much more fleshed out. Suspenseful and entertaining, this book was the clincher for me to continue on with the series.
The Devil’s Bones
A burned car sits on a Tennessee hilltop, a woman's lifeless, charred body seated inside. Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton's job is to discover the truth hidden in the fire-desecrated corpse. Was the woman's death accidental . . . or was she incinerated to cover up her murder?
But his research into the effect of flame on flesh and bone is about to collide with reality like a lit match meeting spilled gasoline. The arrival of a mysterious package—a set of suspiciously unnatural cremated remains—is pulling Brockton toward a nightmare too inhuman to imagine. And an old nemesis is waiting in the shadows to put him to the ultimate test, one that could reduce Brockton's life to smoldering ruins. (Product Description)
My Review: The devil was in the details with this one, as in too many details and plotlines not enough momentum to propel the story. I found myself just waiting around for something to happen which should not be the case in a thriller especially since there was three main subplots all occurring at the same time. Unlike the previous novel, this one was not tightly written or well planned. Bass seemed to have too many balls juggling in the air and thus was unable to fully develop and conclude any one of them satisfactorily. Despite its glowing reviews from all over the place I found this title to be the weakest one in the series.
Bones of Betrayal
The latest Body Farm novel finds forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton looking into an unusual death. A man’s body is pulled out of a swimming pool in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The autopsy reveals that he appears to have died after ingesting a highly radioactive pellet. When Brockton discovers that the victim was a key player in the Manhattan Project—that, in fact, he designed a reactor that was instrumental in the creation of the first atomic bomb more than 60 years ago—he realizes that to solve the crime, he must penetrate the secrets-laden history of the Manhattan Project itself. (From Booklist)
My Review: Bones of Betrayal is by far my most favorite book in the series. Brockton’s wry humour and Miranda’s (his research assistant) quiet insightfulness captures the reader from the very first page. The raw emotions and the unknown danger the characters find themselves in made me empathize with them that much more. I’ll admit, I found myself rooting for a happy ending.
The details in this book not only supplied the reader with the usual forensic information, but unknown historical facts regarding World War II as well. The very, very descriptive autopsy was...well umm…interesting...I could almost smell it! Overall, this forensic mystery was a captivating read with a very unpredictable ending.
By Alex Kava
After Albert Stucky, a brutal and clever serial killer known as "The Collector," escapes from prison, he forces FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell, the agent who originally captured him, to play a deadly game when he targets her and everyone associated with her, pushing her to the very edge of sanity. (Description taken from Fantastic Fiction)
My Review: Split Second is the second installment of Kava's Maggie O'Dell series (after A Perfect Evil) and it is much better than the first. The tone and maturity is evident in Kava’s sophomore novel as the rookie mistakes (i.e.: the amateurish and out-of-place romance scenes) are replaced with a more tightly plotted thriller/murder mystery. Although Nick Morelli makes a reappearance in this book, Maggie O’Dell takes center stage and her character is much more developed than the first. An entertaining read to curl up with on the patio as the days of summer slowly turn to fall.
Copy Cat Murderer?
A Perfect Evil
By Alex Kava
My review: Convicted killer Ronald Jeffreys is executed for the murder and desecration of three little boys. He wholeheartedly admits his guilt to one of the three, but goes to his grave professing his innocence for the other two murders. In three short months after the execution, another body of a young boy is found killed in a similar manner. Small town sheriff Nick Morrelli realizes he’s in over his head and lacks the resources to deal with an investigation of such a scale. He enlists the help of Maggie O’Dell, one of the FBI’s best but headstrong and sometimes reckless criminal profiler.
Typical yet entertaining as far as serial killer novels are concerned. The perspective changes from character to character usually at the beginning of each chapter which is great. It allows the reader an insight into the makings and mind of the killer and answers the question of “why.”
Although there are a few twists and turns along the way, my biggest complaint is that the killer’s identity is revealed far too early in the novel. The second concern would be the forced romance between the two main characters. In such a tightly plotted thriller, there was no room for a clumsy and almost “teenage-like” romance.
The open-ended storyline and lack of closure guarantees the reappearance of the killer but readers will have to read through until the 5th book in the series A Necessary Evil to be reacquainted with him.
The Rogue Reader
Not Your Average Serial Killer
The Face of Death (2007)
By Cody McFadyen
After witnessing the torture and murder of her beloved family at age 6, Sarah Langstorm has lived a lifetime’s worth of anguish and despair. A sadist serial killer known as “The Stranger” has targeted 16 year old Sarah for nearly a decade by slaughtering everyone she has ever cared about calling it “his Justice”. But when her latest foster family is found maimed and dead, she enlists the help of Smoky Barrett and her Violent Crimes Team to catch this sicko once and for all.
Smoky, scarred both physically and emotionally is still recovering from her previous case which saw the murder of her beloved husband, daughter and best friend. Unsure of her readiness to return to work, Smoky is thrown back in the midst of one of her most disturbing cases to date.
This sequel to McFadyen’s debut The Shadow Man is just as good (and disturbing) as the first. The premise of the story—systematically ruining a single victim’s life (but not outright killing her) similar to the way the perpetrator’s life was ruined— is very different from the usual serial killer police procedural. Horrific, haunting, yet compulsively readable, The Face of Death will keep you up at night!
The Darker Side, which is the third book in the series, is also currently available at RPL as is the fourth book Abandoned.
By Steven James
Called to North Carolina to consult on the case of an area serial killer, Bowers finds himself caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Cunning and lethal, the killer is always one step ahead of the law, and he’s about to strike again. It will take all of Bowers’s instincts and training to stop the man who calls himself The Illusionist. (Book Description)
I really enjoyed this book. This seemingly run-of-the-mill serial killer novel has a lot more to offer than a regular police procedural. Bower’s specialty (environmental criminalogy) offers a new perspective in addition to the behavioral and forensic aspects of serial killer novels. James also does an excellent job of fleshing out his characters. Torn between battling his own personal feelings for a certain beautiful FBI agent and the memory of his deceased wife, while attempting to reconcile his relationship with his estranged but observant step-daughter Tessa, Patrick Bowers has a full plate.
The Pawn kept me fully engaged, turning pages and guessing right until the end. You’ll be sure to hear my thoughts to the follow up of this novel: The Rook.
Posted by the Rogue Reader
Get ready to hate or be hated...
Hater (2009) New and popular!
by David Moody
"A head-spinning thrill ride ... Hater will haunt you long after you read the last page" --Guillermo Del Toro, director Pan's Labyrinth
From Jacket Notes:
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), Hater is the story of Danny McCoyne, an everyman forced to contend with a world gone mad. For reasons unknown, vast numbers of the human population suddenly become irrationally violent, killing all who cross their path.
The Cryptkeeper says: This is a very intense book that's extremely well-written and emotionally charged. Danny McCoyne's character is well-developed and I found him to be very sympathetic. Hater is told in the first-person from McCoyne's point of view and this made him very real to me.
Moody's writing is so immediate and descriptive, the story unfolded in my mind's eye in a series of graphic pictures. My heart beat faster, my adrenaline levels went through the roof, and I experienced genuine dread. To coax so many emotions from me using a mere 281 pages, is impressive to say the least. For readers who want everything nicely wrapped up by the last page, you will be disappointed. Hater is part of a projected trilogy, so the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. This did not detract from my enjoyment of the book, however; if anything, it's made me really excited for the follow-up. Stay tuned! Grade: A+
Click here for author's official website!
Supernatural @ RPL: Seasons 1, 2, and 3
Created by: Eric Kripke
Starring: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles
Not a fan yet? Find Supernatural in the RPL Catalogue:
Bound by tragedy and blood to a dangerous, otherworldly mission, two brothers travel in mysterious back roads of the country in their '67 Chevy Impala, searching for their missing father--and hunting down every evil supernatural force they encounter along the way. Bring home all 22 episodes of the first season of the thrilling new show, Supernatural along with must-own bonus features. Supernatural is a completely new kind of thrill ride that takes viewers on a journey into the dark world of the unexplained.
Supernatural: The complete 1st season (DVD)
Supernatural: The complete 2nd season (DVD)
Supernatural: The complete 3rd season (DVD)
One Sick Serial Killer...Part 2
By Chelsea Cain
Publishers Weekly: (Starred Review ) In Cain's superb follow-up to Heartsick , damaged detective Archie Sheridan is back home in Portland, Ore., trying to resume a normal life. Archie's ties to serial killer Gretchen Lowell still run deep, even if he's stopped their weekly visits in prison. Meanwhile, reporter Susan Ward is finishing an article accusing a beloved U.S. senator of seducing his children's 14-year-old babysitter a decade earlier. When three bodies are discovered in a local park—where Archie's team found Gretchen's first victim 12 years earlier—Archie worries another serial killer is at large. After the senator's unexpected death, Susan discovers links between the sex scandal and the bodies in the park. When Gretchen escapes from prison, Archie knows he's the only one who can stop her from killing. In Cain's capable hands, Gretchen is both a monster and the only person who truly understands Archie's pain. With its brisk pacing, carefully metered violence and tortured hero, Cain's sophomore effort will leave readers desperate for more.
My Review: I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but this second book is even more haunting than the first. Archie’s unhealthy obsession, loss of control and sheer desperation is clearly palpable and is an overarching theme throughout the story. I just felt like screaming some sense into him throughout the entire book. The style and pacing were just as fast as Heartsick and the reader gets more of a glimpse into Gretchen’s nature and the complex relationship the pair of them share. Definitely a gripping and absolutely mesmerizing read—its almost as though the reader gets drawn headfirst into Gretchen’s manipulative and cunning ways!
Once again, the content in both of these books may be very disturbing to some readers.
Posted by the Rogue Reader
One Sick Serial Killer
By Chelsea Cain
Chelsea Cain pulls out all the stops in her haunting debut as a thriller writer.
Archie Sheridan, a Portland police detective renowned for being serial killer/femme fatal Gretchen Lowell’s last victim (and the only one who survived the ordeal), is called back to service when bodies of teenage girls are being discovered. After being imprisoned and tortured by Gretchen for 10 days and then released, Archie develops this weird codependent obsession with his alluring captor. He must once again rely on the “mercy” of this psychopath and enlist the help of reporter Susan Ward in order to apprehend this new predator.
Whether it's the tortured police detective who lost his way, or the reporter who is forced to face her grim past, the voices in this novel are just haunting. Although Gretchen’s aura overshadows the entire book, the reader can particularly feel the disconcerting atmosphere the author creates in the scenes Gretchen is directly involved in. Many reviews compare Gretchen Lowell to the modern day Hannibal Lecter (in a skirt mind you), but for some reason, I find her even more disturbing. Her ability to control and manipulate those around her is absolutely uncanny.
Cain presents us with an original and interesting take on the usual serial killer novel and I would highly recommend this book for Thomas Harris and early James Patterson fans.
I am currently working my way through the second book in this series entitled Sweetheart. Look for the third book, Heartbreaker, available August 2009.
Be forewarned: there are graphic accounts and flashbacks of torture and the contents of the book are very disturbing.
The Rogue Reader
Just in time for Christmas!
Classic television series now available at RPL!
Tales from the Crypt Complete First Season (DVD)
Based on the legendary and gruesome EC Comics from publisher William Gaines, this horror anthology featured stories of murder, the supernatural, gore and humor and always had a twist ending of sorts. Some of Hollywood's biggest names took part, either working in front or behind the camera. Hosting duties fell to everyone's favorite decaying corpse, the Cryptkeeper...
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