November 8, 2012

Review : Bones of Betrayal by Jefferson Bass

Title : Bones of Betrayal

Author : Jefferson Bass

Reading Dates : 24 Sep - 30 Sep 2012

Total Pages :319

The Body Farm
From Amazon :

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. Charming and utterly unreliable, she takes him on a trip back into Oak Ridge's wartime past, deep into the shadows of the nuclear race where things were not quite as they seemed.

As Beatrice drifts between lucidity and dementia, Brockton wonders if her stories are fact or fancy, history or myth. But he knows one thing—that she holds the key to a mystery that is becoming increasingly labyrinthine. For as the radiation count steadily rises, and the race to find the truth intensifies, the old woman's tales hint at something far darker and more complex than the forensic anthropologist himself could have ever imagined.

Book Review of Bones of Betrayal.

I picked up Bones of Betrayal and The Bone Thief both because I needed to fulfill one of my reading challenges and also because the books came at a discount. I’d like to say I was pleasantly surprised by Bones of Betrayal but the book just left me confused as to what a forensic anthropologist does.

I had the idea that it would be something akin to what Dr. Temperance Bones of the Bones series does but without the more exciting bits. Bones of Betrayal though had me wondering when would the science begin because it seemed that Dr. Bill Brockton’s job has more in common with that of police detectives. More than once, I was left wondering why is he the one doing the investigating and being approached by those with information to offer. And when would he start doing more than talk to other people.

Story-wise, the crime seems to solve itself with the victims and perpetrators conveniently offering up evidence as the tale unfolds. Except for some parts at the beginning and end, there didn’t seem to be much scientific work involved.

So, while I didn’t dislike the story, I didn’t like it either. Bones of Betrayal simply leaves me confused and wondering as to what the protagonist’s role is supposed to be.

My conclusions :

  • Would I re-read the book ? No.
  • Would I want to read the next book in the series ? Maybe.
  • Would I want to own my personal copy if I didn’t already own it ? No.
  • Who would I recommend this too? Crime fiction readers.
  • For those looking to read the book, would I recommend buying or borrowing the book? Borrow it.

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