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Bones of Betrayal: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass
Review by Gayle Surrette
William Morrow Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061284748
Date: 03 January 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Interview: Jefferson Bass / Show Official Info /

When Bill Brockton got the call about a body frozen in a swimming pool in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, he didn't think of it as anything more than another case, and maybe a chance to use his chain saw. By the time they learned that the victim didn't drown, it was probably too late for the medical examiner; and Miranda Lovelady, Brockton's assistant, might also be a casualty. The area's past as part of the Manhattan Project and the building of the Atomic bomb just might be more a part of the present than anyone thought.

I grew up with duck-and-cover drills in school -- they didn't stop until junior high. It never seemed to me that sitting under my desk was going to protect me much even then, but one didn't question the drills' usefulness. Then there were the stories my grandfather told of the war – history mostly with a few asides to make it more interesting. I read a bit and while I have a fairly good idea about what went on at Los Alamos, I never paid much attention to Oak Ridge other than to know that it had something to do with the atom bomb. I guess Los Alamos got most of the press, the books, and the movies.

That gets a bit rectified by Bones of Betrayal by Jefferson Bass (Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson). Dr. Leonard Novak, a Manhattan Project physicist and one of the brains behind Oak Ridge, is found dead and frozen into a swimming pool. Dr. Bill Brockton is asked for his help. Once the victim dries out and the autopsy begins they learn that Dr. Novak didn't drown – he was murdered and in a way that puts all of people at the autopsy at risk.

Brockton is driven to get to the bottom of the mystery, and to find out the why as well as the how and who of the murder. He meets Novak's ex-wife who tells him stories of the Oak Ridge during the war years. Through these stories and the investigation of Brockton of the history of the area and his forensic research with the police, we learn about the war years and what happened to the people who lived in Oak Ridge during those years.

Our past really does often come back to haunt us in mysterious and surprising ways. There are a number of surprising twist in Bones of Betrayal along with some intense emotional scenes. While the story is modern and takes place in our own time, the seeds of the story begin with the development and use of the atomic bomb. The issues involved are covered within context and highlight the social issues of the times and how they affected the people who lived through them.

If you enjoy history and a good mystery, give Bones of Betrayal a try – entertaining and educational, can't beat that.

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