Bones of Betrayal (Body Farm Series #4)

Bones of Betrayal (Body Farm Series #4)

by Jefferson Bass

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Forged in the crucible of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was a top-secret military installation—the linchpin of the Manhattan Project. Brilliant careers were born and dark secrets buried in the desperate race to build the Bomb. Those secrets begin to emerge when the body of a renowned physicist is discovered facedown in a frozen swimming pool.

Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton, founder of the Body Farm, is shocked when an autopsy reveals the cause of Dr. Leonard Novak's death: a deadly radioactive pellet inside the elderly scientist's body. Who would commit such a horrific crime? Is it related to Novak's role in creating America's deadliest weapon? The answers may lie with the victim's aging ex-wife, Beatrice, a captivating yet utterly unreliable storyteller. Careening between history and fantasy, dementia and lucidity, Beatrice draws Brockton into a maze of memories, leading him to darker truths than he could have imagined.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062277398
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/24/2013
Series: Body Farm Series , #4
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 168,923
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jefferson Bass is the writing team of Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass. Dr. Bass, a world-renowned forensic anthropologist, is the creator of the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility, widely known as the Body Farm. He is the author or coauthor of more than two hundred scientific publications, as well as a critically acclaimed memoir about his career at the Body Farm, Death's Acre. Dr. Bass is also a dedicated teacher, honored as U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Jon Jefferson is a veteran journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. His writings have been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, and Popular Science and broadcast on National Public Radio. The coauthor of Death's Acre, he is also the writer and producer of two highly rated National Geographic documentaries about the Body Farm.

Read an Excerpt

Bones of Betrayal

Chapter One

The colorful tents crowding the clearing where I stood wouldn't have looked out of place at a carnival or Renaissance fair. It would be an interesting irony: a Renaissance fair...a "rebirth" at the University of Tennessee's Body Farm, the one place in the world that revolves around the study of the dead and how they decay.

The tents...white, red, green, yellow, blue...jostled for space at the Anthropology Research Facility. Decades earlier, an FBI agent had dubbed the UT facility "the Body Farm" after seeing the corpses scattered throughout the three wooded acres. The nickname had stuck, and now it was even inspiring a spin-off nickname: a former UT graduate student was now setting up a similar research facility in San Marcos, Texas. Even before her first research cadaver hit the ground, the Texas facility was being called "the Body Ranch."

Several of the tents huddled together were supported by inflatable frames, the rest by spidery arcs of geometric tubing...Quonset huts, twenty-first-century style. Normally there were no tents here; normally the brightest splash of color, apart from the grass and the leaves on the trees, was a large blue tarp draped over our corrugated-metal equipment shed and its small, fenced-in concrete pad. The tents...whose festive colors belied the barren winter landscape and bitter cold of the day...had been erected just twenty-four hours earlier, and twenty-four hours from now they would be gone again. Despite the carnival look, the tents were a stage for the acting out of a nightmare scenario, one of the darkest events imaginable: an act of nuclear terrorism.

Anude male body lay faceup on a gurney within the largest of the tents, his puckered skin gone gray and moldy from three weeks in the cooler at the morgue at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, visible just above the Body Farm's wooden fence and barren treeline. Fourteen other bodies...selected and stored over the preceding month...were locked in a semi-tractor-trailer parked just outside the fence. The fifteen bodies were stand-ins for what could be hundreds or thousands or even...God forbid...tens of thousands of victims if nuclear terrorists managed to inflict wholesale death in a U.S. city somewhere, someday.

Five people surrounded the gurney. Their faces and even their genders were masked by goggles, respirators, and baggy biohazard suits whose white Tyvek sleeves and legs were sealed with duct tape to black rubber gloves and boots. One of the white-garbed figures held a boxy beige instrument in one hand, and in the other, a metal wand that was connected to the box. As the wand swept a few inches above the head, then the chest and abdomen, and then each arm, the box emitted occasional clicks. As the wand neared the left knee, though, the clicks became rapid, then merged into a continuous buzz. Having spent my childhood shivering through the Cold War...practicing "duck and cover" during civil defense drills, as if my wooden school desk could shield me from a Soviet hydrogen bomb...I was well acquainted with the urgent clicking of a Geiger counter.

As the wand hovered, the other four people leaned in to inspect the knee. One took photographs; two others began spraying the body with a soapy-looking liquid and scrubbing the skin, paying particular attention to the knee. As they scrubbed, one of them removed a small orange disk, about the size of a quarter, and handed it to the team leader. A tiny, safely encapsulated speck of radioactive strontium...enough to trigger the Geiger counter, but not enough to pose any hazard...simulated contamination on the corpse. Once the scrubbing was complete, the technician with the Geiger counter checked the knee once more. This time the instrument ticked lazily, signaling normal background radiation. At a sign from the team leader, the body was wheeled out of the tent and returned to the trailer that held the other fourteen corpses, which had already undergone similar screening and decontamination procedures.

One by one, the Tyvek-suited figures rinsed off beneath what had to be the world's coldest shower: a spray of soapy water mixed with alcohol, a last-minute addition necessitated by the day's subfreezing temperatures. The team's contamination, like that of the bodies, was simulated, but the goal was to make the training as realistic as possible, despite the added challenges provided by the bitter cold. Only after the shower did the goggles and respirators come off. My red-tressed, freckled graduate assistant, Miranda Lovelady, emerged from one of the white suits, followed shortly by Art Bohanan, the resident fingerprint expert at the Knoxville Police Department. The team leader was Hank Strickland, a health physicist, one who specialized in radiation and radiation safety. Hank worked at a facility in Oak Ridge called REAC/TS...the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center and Training Site...that sent medical response teams to help treat victims of radiation accidents anywhere in the world.But Hank, like Miranda and Art, was here today as a volunteer team member of DMORT, the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. Formed in the early 1990s to identify victims of mass disasters such as airliner crashes and hurricanes, DMORT was part of the U.S. Public Health Service, but the teams were staffed by volunteers with specialized, and even macabre, skills: their ranks included funeral directors, morticians, forensic dentists, physicians, forensic anthropologists, police officers, and firefighters...people accustomed to working with bodies and bones. DMORT volunteers, including some of my students, had performed heroic service at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center bombings. They'd also spent two months recovering and identifying bodies after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005.Art himself had spent six weeks in Louisiana after Katrina, lifting fingerprints and palm prints from bloated, rotting corpses. One body was that of a man who'd been trapped in an attic by rising waters. More than a hundred days after the man drowned in the ironic was that?...Art and a colleague managed to lift a print and ID the man.

Bones of Betrayal. Copyright © by Jefferson Bass. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Bones of Betrayal 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 145 reviews.
gwood79336 More than 1 year ago
I read all four of the books in the series and I enjoyed them all. They were very well written and did not want to stop reading them once I started. I loved the relationship between Dr Brockton and his graduate student Miranda Lovelady, as teacher & student, father & daughter and something a little crush. These books cover all of your emotion; there is love and loss, happiness and sorrow, and the fear of the unknown. There is never a dull moment in this series you will not regret getting all four books. The books left me want more; I wish there had been more books in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jefferson Bass is a good storyteller, and his choice of historical context and characters make this a compelling read. I would recommend "Bones of Betrayal" to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking detective tales. However, Harper-Collins' production of this e-book is horrendous: Punctuation is limited to commas and periods while the apostrophes, quotation marks, hyphens and other markings printed in the hard-copy edition are absent, making this e-book very difficult to navigate. My advice: Readers, buy the print version of this Body Farm novel, and Mr. Bass, get a new e-publisher!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I feel this is classic Jefferson Bass I think they went above and beyond with the historical material. Although I am not a history buff the historical angle left me involved and interested in the story line. I was oh so greatful that the romantic side of this series has been kept minimal. If you have read any of Jefferson Bass you will definately love this story and really sympathize with each and every character new and old. In my opinion this is probably their best so far. Although I am always intrigued by the plot lines I felt more involved and fascinated by where the story took me. Just when you think you know 'whodunit' another surprise pops up where you would never expect it.
MBM71 More than 1 year ago
I'm hooked on this author and this series. Read them in order to make the most sense!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is seamlessly wrapped around one of 20th century US history's important events.
Traction_Bob More than 1 year ago
Characters are getting deeper, and an investigative team is bonding.  Still not "there", but the series continues to draw me further.  :)
MrsEllis212 More than 1 year ago
Although not my favorite of JeffersonBass, still a very good read... a lot of emotional dilemas as well as mysteries to solve... and possible a romance as well... I recommend this to everyone - especially those who enjoy mixing mysteries with real life issues and real history as well. I learned some interesting facts about atomic bombs and Tennessee's part in it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all the body farm books, but this one has been the best yet. The plot, occasional humor, technical references make this book interesting and a good read. I really like the main character and his assistant. I recommend this to all who enjoy a good mystery.
EvilynJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
During the autopsy of Robert Novak, an elderly man whose body was pulled from a motel's frozen swimming pool, Dr. Bill Brockton discovers that Novak had been poisoned with a radioactive pellet. When he learns that Novak was part of the atom bomb project during WWII, Brockton searches the local Oak Ridge archives for clues about who would be looking for revenge 60 years later. CSI fans will appreciate the detailed forensics. An entertaining read with great historical references. Highly recommend.
marsap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A novel featuring 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. Brockton discovers that the victim was a key player in the Manhattan Project¿he realizes that to solve the crime, he must dig into the secret history of the Manhattan Project itself. I found this book fascinating--lot of twists and turns. No one is really who they seem. Highly recommended. 5 out of 5.
judithrs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the 4th novel by Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass who write under the name of Jefferson Bass. Bass is the forensic anthropologist who founded UT"s Body Farm and all of the novels revolve around a director of the body farm This on is set in Oak Ridge and involves murder of a scientist and soldir connectied with the Manhattan project. I found the history of Oak Ridge fascinating and the murderer came as a surprise. You can read and enjoy this novel without having read the first 3 in the series, although reading them in order is better. This is a average mystery; the setting and the characters make it interesting..
scarpettajunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How would you feel if you had to use a chainsaw to pry a body out of a frozen pool? How would you feel if you found out that body was radioactive? Dr. Brockton is taken on a chase back and forth through the era of the atom bomb to find out the how and why of the deaths in this mystery thriller. There was not a dull page in this book. I liked that this book leaves a few unanswered questions leaving room for sequels.
bigorangemichael on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dr. Bill Brockton is called into to assist with a murder investigation in Oak Ridge, Tennesssee. The body of a promient man who worked on the Manhatten project is found face down in a frozen pool. Brockton is able to free the body and finds the man was poisoned by a radioactive pellet that was slipped into his medication.But why was the man killed? Does it relate to his time working on the Manhatten project and the nuclear weapons that were used to end the second World War?The fascinating world of forensic crime investigation is once again on full display with Jefferson Bass' latest novel. I'll admit a lot of the pleasure at reading this story came from the fact that I used to work out in Oak Ridge and live in Knoxville, so watching events unfold in places easy to bring into my mind's eye from personal experience was a lot of fun. The central mysteries of the Brockton series aren't as complex and compelling as those created by Laura Lippman or Elizabeth George, but they're still fun to read. The authors (the books are written by two men under a pen name) throw in just enough blind alleys and red herrings to keep things interesting. And the character of Bill Brockton is a comfortable, human one. I look forward to and enjoy my yearly visits with Brockton and his colleagues.Is it a great mystery? No. Is it an enjoyable msytery? Yes.
ctfrench on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When the body of renowned physicist Leonard Novak is found frozen in a swimming pool in Oak Ridge, Dr. Bill Brockton is called in to help. Dr. Brockton takes the body to Knoxville for autopsy and there it¿s discovered Dr. Novak died from radiation poisoning through a small pellet found in his intestines. Brockton, his assistant Miranda, an investigating detective, and the medical examiner are exposed to radiation but the medical examiner received the most dosage and is hospitalized. Dr. Novak was an integral part in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II, and Brockton¿s investigation takes him back to the secret city to try to find out who wanted Novak dead. There, he meets Novak¿s former wife Beatrice who regales him with stories surrounding the Manhattan Project. In Novak¿s home, Brockton discovers a mysterious film strip which leads the investigation in a different direction. Fourth in the Body Farm series, Bones of Betrayal offers the reader an interesting glimpse into the scientists and laymen surrounding the Manhattan Project, as well as the development of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, called the secret city. Brockton is a likeable anthropologist who is compassionate and caring and who seeks a committed relationship but never quite gets there. The character Beatrice¿s anecdotes are enlightening and enhance the story. Some will figure out the mystery, but this book is worth the read simply due to the historical facts relayed.
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Another wonderful installment to the series.
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