Jefferson Bass’s Cut to the Bone, the long-awaited prequel to his New York Times bestselling mystery series, turns the clock back to reveal the Body Farm's creation—and Dr. Bill Brockton's deadly duel with a serial killer.
In the summer of 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and Tennessee Senator Albert Gore begin their long-shot campaign to win the White House. In the sweltering hills of Knoxville at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Bill Brockton, the bright, ambitious young head of the Anthropology Department, launches an unusual—some would call it macabre—research facility, unlike any other in existence.
Brockton is determined to revolutionize the study of forensics to help law enforcement better solve crime. But his plans are derailed by a chilling murder that leaves the scientist reeling from a sense of déjà vu. Followed by another. And then another: bodies that bear eerie resemblances to cases from Brockton’s past.
But as the body count rises, the victims’ fatal injuries grow more and more distinctive—a spiral of death that holds dark implications for Brockton...and everyone he holds dear.
The serviceable eighth Body Farm novel (after 2012's The Bones of Avignon) from the writing team of Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson is a prequel. Forensic anthropologist Bass created the world's first facility to study the decomposition of human corpses, and his fictional alter ego, Dr. William Brockton, is about to do the same in 1992 in Tennessee. Brockton, who's been frustrated by his inability to help law-enforcement pinpoint the time of death, believes that analysis of exactly how long it takes cadavers to disintegrate by using "bugs like a time-since-death stopwatch" can do just that. Meanwhile, a sadist named Satterfield is severing the limbs of his female victims, an m.o. that matches that of a murderer Brockton pursued two years earlier in Alaska. The writing sometimes gets away from the authors ("the razor-tipped arrow penetrated his chest, and his heart opened in a bloom of crimson to receive its thrust"), and plot surprises are the exception rather than the rule, but series fans will be pleased.