- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow (September 4, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060875291
- ISBN-13: 978-0060875299
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 145 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science
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From Publishers Weekly
Forensic anthropologist Bass nicely complements his memoir, Death's Acre, with this unnervingly cheerful collection (ably co-written by science journalist Jefferson) of case studies and anecdotes from the field of corpse identification. With careful attention to detail and the occasional darkly humorous aside, the authors describe charred maggot cocoons; the grotesquely dismembered victims of a fireworks factory explosion; and the forensic uses of sonar, scanning electron microscopes and computer databases. Disparaging the CSI effect on jurors who expect DNA testing to be quick and exact,Bass extols the virtues of old-fashioned legwork and gut reactions, though he's always quick to admit when his methods and intuition fall short. The authors keep the narrative flow moving nicely, and Bass's voice is practical, passionate and eminently Southern—and his decades of teaching experience at the University of Tennessee come through strongly in such helpful suggestions as If you decide to murder somebody, don't think that you can completely cover your tracks with fire. Strong-stomached readers who like to get dirt under their nails will gladly follow the UT forensic anthropology team up mountains and into rivers as they put names and faces to long-decayed bodies. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Sept. 4)
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“There’s much to enjoy here...” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Readers who like to get dirt under their nails will gladly follow the UT forensic anthropology team.” (Publishers Weekly)
“scientifically authoritative, as well as accessible to mainstream crime buffs...Some cases are heartbreaking; at least one is downright weird.” (BookPage)
“The real crimes and mysteries here are just as or more intriguing as any fictional crime drama.” (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
“Beyond the Body Farm offers a real-life understanding of forensic anthropology and the science behind it...” (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
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The cases themselves are riveting,each (like the stories of the people themselves) are unique and tragic: the case of a home-made fireworks factory that went horribly wrong; the anguish of a family unsure if the body they buried was indeed that of their mother; answering the question of whether J.P. Richardson ("the Big Bopper") survived the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly before succumbing to his wounds. But beyond the macabre fascination of the details of these cases is the sheer brilliance Dr. Bass demonstrates as he clearly, succinctly and briefly explains his craft and the way he is able to arrive at the conclusions he does. That he makes this look easy belies the difficulty of the task, the skill and experience he has, and the strength of his (and Jon Jefferson's) writing.
Strongly recommended to anyone interested in the field. Other, related recommendations on the topic are Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist,The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science, and Bones: A Forensic Detective's Casebook
So true! This was a fun read, although definitely not a fast or easy read. I expected it to be heavy on the science, and I wasn’t disappointed. I especially liked the follow-through as he revisited several cases over the course of decades as new technologies and techniques made it possible to solve earlier crimes that couldn’t have been resolved without the new tech. And I liked that it wasn’t all wrapped up in a bow – in some cases there really weren’t definite answers – a reality that is frequently ignored in the CSI mindset.
As with all the random non-fiction I read, I had hoped to learn something. In this book, I learned quite a few things. Among others, I had no idea that “Although identical twins can’t be distinguished from one another by their DNA, they can be told apart by their teeth.”
I also enjoyed his sporadic attempts to lighten up what is surely a seriously dark topic by throwing in personal details like, “Luckily, considering my line of work, I have a poor sense of smell.”
And the starting pun was particularly astute. I’m sure that “People these days are just dying to get into the Body Farm….”
My only complaint is that the book ended rather abruptly for me at only 79%. Had I been reading the print version (and not the e-book), I would have likely noticed that the backmatter (acknowledgements, glossary, etc.) formed 20% of the book. As it was, I was left expecting more because I’d assumed I had at least another 4 chapters to go…