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Carved in Bone (Body Farm, Bk. 1) Mass Market Paperback – December 26, 2006

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060759828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060759827
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (308 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,130,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The pseudonymous Bass makes a successful first foray into fiction. The author is actually the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass, the forensic anthropologist who founded the legendary Body Farm (Tennessee's experimental laboratory devoted to the study of the way human corpses decompose), and Jon Jefferson, a journalist and filmmaker. Their new sleuth, Dr. Bill Brockton, is obviously based on Dr. Bass, sharing his first name, initials and his status as founder of the Body Farm. (The two coauthored Death's Acre, a nonfiction account of that macabre if scientifically valuable facility.) Still recovering from the emotional devastation of his wife's death, Dr. Brockton stumbles across a mummified female body, and his passion for the truth enmeshes him in a probe that verifies rumors of local corruption. His particular skills are vital to identifying the corpse as well as those who might have been motivated to kill the victim decades earlier. The pacing and action bode well for this crime series, though mystery fans who enjoy whodunits might hope that subsequent books pose more of a puzzle.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“CARVED IN BONE brims with terrific forensic detail...the real deal.” (Kathy Reichs, New York Times bestselling author)

“A superb mystery—well-plotted, filled with memorable characters, based on accurate forensic science.” (Houston Chronicle)

“Southern-fried forensics. Nothing too fancy, but it does taste good going down.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“[A] knockout...full of rich and sometimes stomach-turning forensic detail.” (Lansing State Journal)

“Fantastic forensic detail and an engaging hero … an authoritative, compelling new voice to the forensic mystery.” (Jeff Abbott, USA Today bestselling author of PANIC)

“Offers terrific forensic details and the science of solving cold cases. It is electrifying, provocative and full of surprises.” (Dr. Henry Lee, forensic criminologist and author of CRACKING CASES and HENRY LEE'S CRIME SCENE HANDBOOK)

“Percolates with wit, gentility, and scientific savoir-faire ... alive with verve and charm...engrossingly entertaining.” (James Starrs, Attorney and Author, A VOICE FOR THE DEAD)

“Move over, Kathy Reichs. The Sherlock Holmes for bones has arrived.” (Katherine Ramsland, Author of The Forensic Science of C.S.I.)

“A gripping murder mystery.” (Emily A. Craig, Ph.D., Kentucky State Forensic Anthropologist and author of TEASING SECRETS FROM THE DEAD)

“CARVED IN BONE introduces a captivating protagonist and is full of obscure, fascinating forensics. [A] fine new talent.” (Stephen White, New York Times bestselling author of MISSING PERSONS)

“[F]ascinating...a delightful course in “how to examine a skeleton,” and the intrigues of the Tennessee moonshine backwoods!” (Michael M. Baden, M.D., author of Remains Silent and former Chief Medical Examiner, New York City)

“[A] unique corpse, solid science, quirky humor and a lovable protagonist.” (USA Today)

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

This book has a good story line and well developed characters.
Deborah Mulford
Book was well written and kept the reader's interest from page 1 to the end.
Wendy S. Finnerty
I recommend this book, and look forward to reading more in the series!
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 84 people found the following review helpful By ellen VINE VOICE on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patricia Cornwell made us aware of The Body Farm, and this book is dedicated to her. But Dr. Bill Blass, the person who created the real Body Farm in Tennessee, has written a wonderful book about the real deal. His hero, Dr. Bill Brockton, who I think is loosely based on Bass, is a brilliant forensic anthropologist professor who also teaches at University of Tennessee. A mummified body is found in a cave that begins the body of the book's plot, and it is a great ride. Brockton's friend Art helps him in the field work and his character is also sound and is a friend who you would like to watch your back on top of being a brilliant professional. We also meet several back woods characters that figure in and are also great.
This book sets itself up for sequels, and I cannot wait for the next - a digruntled ex-medical examiner is trying to get even after Brockton finds he botched an autopsy and there is unfinished business between them.
Fans of the Scarpetta books will not be upset at the descriptions of various states of body decomposition, autopsies, and other situations. Maybe someone who has not become familiar might. BUT this is a book to read and I almost finished it in 1 reading, so that tells you something. Excellent characters, sound plot, intruiging scenes put you in the book. Really wonderful.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By K. L Sadler VINE VOICE on July 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Is it too much to ask that when we pick up a book involving one of the sciences of 'death' that the book has a good plot and great characters? Or that the book uses science to keep the readers engaged, rather than the usual raunchy sex and speech that is pockmarked with nastiness? Nobody, and I mean nobody swears that much. I don't like to hear it, I don't like to read it. If someone swore that much in front of me, I'd turn and walk away, and have done so before. Like Eleanor Roosevelt, I feel if a person cannot talk about interesting things, but instead uses sex and swearing to fill the pages of their books, then they must not have anything interesting to say. I quit reading Patricia Cornwell's books because of this a few years ago.

The two men who wrote this book started the original 'Body Farm,' an idea that is now being copied world-wide to train police and scientists not only in the way to determine when crime has been perpetuated, but also to understand the death process for other sciences such as anthropology and archaeology.

The story, the plot in this book is great. I'd heard things before about ingrown Appalachian areas, we have some of that here in parts of PA. But Jeffereson Bass write with a light touch, being careful to tell the truth, rather than continue the stereotype. The science in this book would have a big 'yuck' factor involved when a body is found covered with adipocere which is the kind of congealing of body fat in certain situations. They'd seen this type of thing in some bodies dug up in South America (high in the Andes where it is cold and bugs don't have a chance to clean the skelaton).

But not only is the story in this book about death. It's about life, and who deserves it and who respects it.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on February 2, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In CARVED IN BONE, forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton obviously is the fictionalized version of his creator, Dr Bill Bass, the founder of the real-life Body Farm, a research facility that he runs in Knoxville, Tennessee. Although THE BODY FARM and DEATH'S ACRE were both exceptionally well written and compelling non-fiction books that provided clear, graphic, easily understood explanations of the exciting, innovative, pioneering research conducted on THE BODY FARM, many readers will still find a non-fiction approach just a little too cut and dry for their tastes. You'll pardon the joke if I suggest that CARVED IN BONE puts flesh on those real-life bones and converts the story of this research into a novel that manages to convey considerable scientific information in the format of an exciting, if somewhat predictable, thriller.

Solid, well-explained and credible forensic science; the decades old strangulation of a young pregnant mother-to-be; the limited gene pool and controversial social structure of a close-knit, parochial, religious mountain community; and a diverting side plot in which Brockton grieves for his recently deceased wife but is mortified to find himself romantically attracted to his graduate student assistant and a promising undergraduate student who is quite young enough to be his daughter; plus a decent smattering of red herrings and narrow escapes. Presto, you have a wonderfully enjoyable novel that knocks the stuffings out of the over-the-top and sadly unrealistic imaginings of the CSI screenplay writers.

Well done, Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. I was a fan of the non-fiction material and now I intend to seek out the rest of the fiction series as well.

Paul Weiss
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Actually, the name of the site at the University of Tennessee is the Anthropology Research Facility, but it's known to the world as "Body Farm," a nickname chosen by a Tennessee FBI agent and made famous by Patricia Cornwell's popular crime novel. The facility, a three acre site devoted to postmortem-decay research, was founded some 25 years ago by Dr. Bill Bass, renowned for his expertise in forensic anthropology. Now, in addition to his studies and the assistance he gives to law enforcement officials, Dr. Bass has teamed with journalist/filmmaker Jon Jefferson to pen a novel so loaded with forensic detail that some may decide to sleep with the lights on.

This writing team wastes no time in snagging readers with a prologue detailing protagonist Bill Brockton's probing of a corpse with a hunting knife. After locating a space just behind the heart's lower chambers, "...I set the tip of the hunting knife there-it snagged in the soft flesh-then leaned in and began to push. It took more force than I'd expected......As my victim jerked and skidded from the force, a rib broke with the sound of a green tree branch splintering."

Definitely not a story for the squeamish or weak of heart. The graphic prologue is fair warning of descriptions to come as Brockton is called upon by Cooke County's sheriff Tom Kitchings to accompany him to a remote cave hidden in the Appalachian Mountains. This is a trip fraught with peril for Brockton as he suffers from vertigo and motion sickness. Nonetheless, his malaise is forgotten when he enters the cave and finds a mummified body on a rock ledge.

Of course, there are many questions: is it a male or female? How long has the body been there and how did he/she die?
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