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Bones of Betrayal (Body Farm Novels) Hardcover – February 3, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews
Book 4 of 9 in the Body Farm Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In bestseller Bass's average fourth forensic thriller to feature Dr. Bill Brockton (after The Devil's Bones), a frozen corpse found in a lake near the Oak Ridge, Tenn., nuclear research facility turns out to be that of Dr. Leonard Novak, one of the leaders of the Manhattan Project, the secret government program to build the first atomic bomb during WWII. When the source of death, potent radioactive material the old man somehow ingested, poisons the local medical examiner, Brockton's inquiry takes on added urgency. After meeting Novak's ex-wife at his funeral, Brockton wonders if there might be a link between the present-day murder and long-forgotten events; with the aid of an attractive local librarian, he starts to dig into Oak Ridge's past. Given the small pool of suspects, many readers will guess the killer's identity before it's revealed. Those looking for a more evocative portrait of the paranoid atmosphere surrounding the Manhattan Project should seek out Joseph Kanon's Los Alamos. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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. This series, written by forensic anthropologist Bass (the creator of the real Body Farm in Tennessee) and Jefferson, just keeps getting better. The latest installment features both the most compelling story and the best portrayal yet of Brockton, who has completed the transition from fictional representation of coauthor Bass to fully realized protagonist. Expect bigger and better things from this point on. --David Pitt

Dr. Bill Brockton Is On the Case
Read the first chapter of Bones of Betrayal, by Jefferson Bass [PDF].

Product Details

  • Series: Body Farm Novels
  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: WilliamMr; First Edition edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061284742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061284748
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jefferson Bass is the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Together, they wrote Death's Acre, a nonfiction account of the Body Farm, before tackling forensic under the pen name of Jefferson Bass. Their debut novel, Carved in Bone, reached # 25 on The New York Times Best Seller list and was followed by Flesh and Bone, The Devil's Bones, and a second nonfiction title, Beyond the Body Farm. Of the six Body Farm novels already in print, five have been New York Times bestsellers. Their seventh novel, "The Inquisitor's Key," comes out May 8, 2012.

Jefferson and Bass bring their own unique set of strengths to the partnership. Dr. Bass, the duo's scientific expert, is a legend in forensic circles. In 1980 he created the world's first laboratory devoted to human decomposition: the University of Tennessee's "Body Farm." Dr. Bass has authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific publications, most of them based on the research facility's work. During half a century in the classroom, Dr. Bass taught tens of thousands of students, including many of the foremost forensic anthropologists practicing in the United States today. He's been featured on numerous network television news programs, as well as in documentaries for National Geographic and the BBC. CBS was not exaggerating when it called Dr. Bass "America 's top forensic scientist."

Jon Jefferson, the "writer" half of Jefferson Bass, is a veteran journalist, science writer, and documentary filmmaker. His journalism credits include work for The New York Times, National Public Radio, Newsweek, and USA Today. Jefferson learned the art of combining scientific material with compelling human stories during a decade as a science writer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In the 1990s he began writing and producing television documentaries, mainly for the History Channel and the Arts and Entertainment Network, covering topics ranging from World War II fighter planes to ancient art treasures at the Vatican. While making a two-hour A&E special about the Vatican in 1998, Jefferson first visited Avignon; thirteen years later, he returned to Avignon to research the richly layered new Body Farm novel, The Inquisitor's Key. The Jefferson-Bass collaboration began in 2001, when Jefferson wrote and produced two National Geographic documentaries about the Body Farm--films that earned high rating around the world. The rest, as they say, is history--or, in this case, memoir and crime fiction!

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bones of Betrayal has one of the more interesting premises I've read - it's a forensic mystery based on a radioactive puzzle. I've not read a book with that as the focus. This proves to be an interesting twist on an age-old classic suspense. While it has a few cliches, it doesn't suffer from them - and with a (slightly less-so) typical forensic adventure that's interesting on its own, they wind up enhancing the story. The running joke about the chainsaw, (sorry, but you have to read it for that one!), was really funny.

Oak Ridge is one of the country's greatest "forgotten" nuggets of history. Most people have no idea that this is where the foundation for our war won by the atom was laid. This made the backdrop interesting.

The writing is fun and engaging. I found myself wanting to turn ahead to find out more about a dire circumstance befalling one character. The personalities of his cast are complex while still falling back on that formerly-mentioned clicheness. The persona of Beatrice in particular filled me with horror and sadness in parts, amusement, pain and anger in others.

Like most good books, it ultimately shines because it's not made wonderful by the plot, but by the characters. No, it's not the next literary novel of the century, but it's a great forensic story with an amusing cast. Since I didn't read the earlier books, though, there was some context I was missing, which was my one major dislike.

Overall, a good book. An original twist on an unoriginal formula, it was unexpectedly enjoyable.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a huge fan of the television series "Bones," and when I saw Kathy Reichs' (author of the Temperance Brennan novels) endorsement of BONES OF BETRAYAL, I knew I had to read this book. BONES OF BETRAYAL is the fourth installment in the Body Farm series by Jefferson Bass. I have not previously read the other three books in this series and had some concern about starting at book four. However, this book stands on its own very well, with only mild, well explained references to previous stories. With a story based in forensic anthropology, the birth of atomic science, and a mysterious murder, BONES OF BETRAYAL is a clear winner.

Let me say up front that I am a geek. I have a Master's Degree in Physics with a minor in Mathematics, and love novels that are based in hard science. BONES OF BETRAYAL hits the jackpot for me, mixing two scientific fields quite well: atomic physics and forensic anthropology, as well as the history of the atomic bomb and WWII. All three play important roles in solving the murder case, all three are well and appropriately explained for the lay reader, and all three combine quite seamlessly. The details of each are just right: not too dumbed down and not too sophisticated.

In BONES OF BETRAYAL, a frozen corpse found in a swimming pool near the Oak Ridge nuclear research facility, where the atomic bomb was developed. Dr. Bill Brockton, founder of the Body Farm and a leading authority in forensic science, is called in to investigate. The body turns out to be that of Dr. Leonard Novak, one of the key scientists on the Manhattan Project, the code name for the WWII project that perfected the bomb. When Dr.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

1. Frozen body found in dirty swimming pool
2. Add a STIHL* chainsaw to the list of casualties
3. Frozen body turns out to be hot, as in Geiger counter hot
4. History lesson on the Manhattan Project follows
5. Blurry photographs lead back to wartime Oak Ridge
6. The truth outs, but slowly

Unlike the other novels from this writing team, this one doesn't focus on the Body Farm and its decomposing occupants, but is more a historical whodunit with links to present time.

Despite its scientific subject matter, the story makes for light and entertaining reading, and you don't have to be a nuclear physicist to find out what makes it tick.

Half the life of the story is the attempted romance sub-plots, the cheesy but good natured humor, and the self-deprecating nature of the hero, Dr. Bill Brockton.

Recommended light reading for planes and trains, and people who live near to nuclear reactors.

*Gratuitous product placement plug for the world's best chainsaw

Amanda Richards, February 14, 2009

Footnote: "STIHL" is pronounced "schteel" rather than "steel".

Footnote 2: Tell Dr. Brockton that it's spelled "Husqvarna"
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The first three Body Farm novels--Carved in Bone, Flesh and Bone, and The Devil's Bones--took readers deep into the backwoods of East Tennessee, where fascinating forensic science mixed with extraordinary characters, including the Farm's charismatic founder. Now, in the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series Kathy Reichs calls "the real deal," truth, lies, war, and history intertwine in a story that reaches new heights of suspense. This is Jefferson Bass's most ambitious and enthralling book yet.

Bones of Betrayal

Dr. Bill Brockton is in the middle of a nuclear-terrorism disaster drill when he receives an urgent call from the nearby town of Oak Ridge--better known as Atomic City, home of the Bomb, and the key site for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Although more than sixty years have passed, could repercussions from that dangerous time still be felt today?

With his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady, Brockton hastens to the death scene, where they find a body frozen facedown in a swimming pool behind a historic, crumbling hotel. The forensic detectives identify the victim as Dr. Leonard Novak, a renowned physicist and designer of a plutonium reactor integral to the Manhattan Project. They also discover that he didn't drown: he died from a searing dose of radioactivity.

As that same peril threatens the medical examiner and even Miranda, Brockton enlists the help of a beautiful, enigmatic librarian to peel back the layers of Novak's life to the secret at its core. The physicist's house and personal life yield few clues beyond a faded roll of undeveloped film, but everything changes when Brockton chances upon Novak's ninety-year-old ex-wife, Beatrice.
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