The Bone Yard
Review: Dr. William Brockton, Director of the University of Tennessee's Body Farm, heads to the Florida panhandle to be with an old friend when her sister commits suicide, only to be drawn into a potential decades-old crime scene, in The Bone Yard, the sixth mystery in this series by Jefferson Bass (a pseudonym for the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson).
Angie St. Claire, a forensic analyst for the Florida State Crime Lab in Tallahassee, who is attending a training session at the National Forensic Academy in Tennessee, receives a call from her husband that her sister, Kate, has died, the result of a suicide. She asks Bill Brockton to go with her, suspicious that her sister must have been murdered instead. In Florida, Stu Vickery of the FDLE tells Brockton about a dog owned by a local farmer that has unearthed two human skulls and other bone fragments. They appear to be of teenaged children, but unfortunately no one knows where the dog found them. In an attempt to tracks its movements, a collar with a sensor is put on the dog but shortly thereafter, both the dog and its owner are found dead, the collar missing. Still, enough of the transmission was received to convince Vickery and Brockton that the skulls may have come from a cemetery on the Florida/Georgia border, near a former reform school for boys, and that the bones possibly they belong to former students. And then a diary surfaces, outlining abuses that took place at the school. But with 40 years having passed since the reformatory shut down, could any of the teachers or staff — or even students — be found today?
Though two mysteries duel for Brockton's attention, it is clearly the latter involving old bones (of course!) that commands his attention. Both murder plots are well developed, however, and involve a generous helping of forensic analyses on the way to their respective resolutions, a welcome treat for readers of this series who expect nothing less.
The authors go to great length in an afterward to note that this is a book of fiction, though, as they point out, there is a historical basis for the "bone yard" plotline that was "inspired by events and stories from an actual north Florida reform school". This is, in places, an exceptionally troubling book to read, especially the passages from the diary. To be sure, the line between fact and fiction is (intentionally?) very blurred.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Bone Yard.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided a copy of The Bone Yard for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Flesh and Bone
William Morrow (Hardcover), January 2007
ISBN-13: 9780060759834; ISBN-10: 0060759836
William Morrow (Hardcover), October 2016
ISBN-13: 9780062363190; ISBN-10: 0062363190
Location(s) referenced in The Bone Yard: Florida Panhandle
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The Bone Yard by Jefferson Bass — A Body Farm Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: March 2011
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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