Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Death's Acre

Death's Acre
Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

I am fascinated by forensics and the details that can be discovered through forensic work. So, when I got a chance to interview Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson on a book panel, I was thrilled. I have to admit that neither of the men were what I expected, but that's all right. But, I was very impressed with both of them and I've enjoyed the books they have written together.

For people who aren't familiar with Dr Bill Bass, he is a world renowned forensic anthropologist and he has worked on a huge number of cases. At one point in those cases, he realized that it would be beneficial if there was a scientific way to determine how long a body had been dead. This would make it much easier for police, attorneys etc to make a case against a suspect. If the time of death is narrowed down to several days - it can be hard to debate an alibi, but if the time of death can be narrowed down to a more limited time frame, that makes an alibi more necessary and more useful.

This is one of the things that prompted the development of the "Body Farm" at the University of Tennessee. The Body Farm was started by Dr Bass and it was originally an acre - therefore "Death's Acre". Dr Bass and the UT students study the various stages of death and decomposition in a wide variety of conditions. It is fantastic research which is very helpful in crime solving.

I could rattle off all kinds of great stories and examples that were in the book, but that would take the fun out of it for you. I will tell you that there is death, gore and sorted details. It could be more gory, but there is plenty of detail. I think it was handled very well and should appeal to many people who are interested in forensics and forensic anthropology. I highly recommend the book and it gives you an interesting overview of many aspects for Dr Bass' life.

I admit that I had a tough time getting into the beginning, but give it a chance. The case studies are great. When I talked with Dr Bass, he looked at my copy of the book and noticed all the paper clips on the pages (there are a lot). He asked me what they meant. When I told him those were all the examples that I want to include in my future mysteries. He gave me a huge smile and said he was very glad he could get me thinking. Its a fantastic resource for mystery writers and entertaining for people who are interested in forensics.

Nikki Leigh

1 comment:

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