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Bones of Betrayal: A Body Farm Novel (Body Farm Novels)
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Product Description

The first three Body Farm novels¡ªCarved in Bone, Flesh and Bone, and The Devil's Bones¡ªtook readers deep into the backwoods of East Tennessee, where fascinating forensic science mixed with extraordinary characters, including the Farm's charismatic founder. Now, in the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series Kathy Reichs calls "the real deal," truth, lies, war, and history intertwine in a story that reaches new heights of suspense. This is Jefferson Bass's most ambitious and enthralling book yet.

Bones of Betrayal

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¡ªbetter 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¡ªthat 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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Keeps you guessing until the end
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have not read any of the other Body Farm Novels, but plan to after reading this one.

    The story starts on a freezing day in Tennessee when the body of a man is found frozen into an abandoned swimming pool. As the story unfolds, more characters are woven into the plot, and two more murders are discovered.

    The authors do a nice job of combining the present day investigation with the historical context of the Manhattan Project, and I found it fascinating to get a glimpse into what life was like Oak Ridge during the 1940's.

    I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell. I'm glad to have found a new source of forensic mysteries!...more info
  • A mystery and a glimpse behind the scenes of the Manhattan Project
    I enjoyed this 4th book in the Body Farm series. It does have a lot of background info, historical anecdotes, and scientific detail, but the author melds it nicely within the framework of the mystery of a murdered man found frozen in a swimming pool in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The dead man, Dr. Leonard Novak was a prominent scientist involved in the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb at that location in the early 1940s.

    The story begins with the discovery of the body, follows with the subsequent realization that he was contaminated with a radioactive substance, and describes the search for the man's killer -- all the while tantalizing us with myriad glimpses into the happenings at the Oak Ridge installation during the war. We meet an interesting guide in Beatrice - who has a unique perspective into the life and times during the heyday of the project at that facility.

    Dr. Bill Brockton and his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady use their forensic skills to ascertain the cause of death of Dr. Novak and, under the investigative arm of the FBI's Agent Thornton, find a conclusion that offers a motive as old as time.

    The book is interesting and, although a bit heavy on philosophy and moralizing, I did find it an entertaining read.

    If you have enjoyed the previous Body Farm novels, you'll want to follow Dr. Brockton on this case and will probably eagerly look forward to yet a new installment....more info
  • fun forensic investigative thriller
    A corpse of an elderly man is found in a lake near the Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear research facility. The victim is identified as Dr. Leonard Novak, a leader on the government top secret Manhattan Project during WWII. The autopsy reveals that Dr. Novak died from ingesting poisons that concerns local medical examiner Dr. Bill Brockton who fears others might suffer the same fate. Additionally since he is unsure how the researcher ingested the poisons, he is not ruling out murder.

    At Novak's funeral, Brockton talks to the scientist's ex wife. Following that discussion the ME begins to hypothesize that the homicide is tied to the victim's past; perhaps as far back as WWII and the nuclear bomb project. With the assistance of a local librarian, Brockton investigates the second half twentieth century history of Oak Ridge.

    The latest Brockton reading the bones forensic investigative thriller (see CARVED IN BONES, FLESH AND BONE and THE DEVIL'S BONES) is an exciting tale starring an engaging hero. Although readers will solve the whodunit rather easily, the fun in the fast-paced story line is the contemporary link to the 1940s Manhattan Project.

    Harriet Klausner...more info
  • Interesting crime novel with history of atomic bomb project
    This is the first body farm novel I have read. I found it a little slow but the well researched history of Oak Ridge, TN was fascinating. You could almost imagine yourself there in the early 1940's, it was so realistic. What an exciting time that must have been! The story concerns an early scientist who worked at the beginning of the Manhatten Project who is found floating in a frozen swimming pool after being murdered so long after the beginning of the project. A fine blending of the past and the present....more info
  • Bones of Betrayal
    I have all of Jefferson Bass's novels to date and have loved every one of them. Although I had a little difficulty getting interested in this book in the beginning, it finally picked up speed in the middle and became much more interesting. It was a little heavy in the nuclear and radioactive terminology but I was able to wade through it. I just hope this writing team keeps writing more of these books!...more info
  • Good mix of history and technology, but no mystery
    This book divides its attention into several areas
    1. The mystery - 5%
    2. The characters - 10%
    3. The forensic details - 10%
    4. The properties of radioactive substances - 25%
    5. The history of Oak Ridge (where much of the Atomic bomb development work was done) - 50%

    For me, those percentages were way out of balance. If I had wanted to learn about the early days of the Manhattan project and I found this book, I might have been satisfied using it as a starting place. If I wanted to learn about the various uses for radioactive substances such as finding problems with welds (clearly important when dealing with oil or natural gas pipelines and such) then this book would have given me some good search terms to use for further research.

    However, this book is promoted as a mystery, with some emphasis on decomposing bodies and on skeletal remains. At most, a quarter of the book deals with that, and in a not-very-engrossing manner.

    Give this one a pass. ...more info
  • Ghosts of the Manhattan Project
    I read a fair amount of good crime novels to recognize a poor one. This is the first "Body Farm" novel I've read and likely will be my last. A brief plot synopsis: A body of a 90 year old man is found in the ice and, as the story unwinds, we are transported back to the days of the Manhattan Project. I found this book very difficult to read. The character development is nonexistent (I hate when authors believe that description of nuance substitutes for developing a character), the plot was cumbersome and lethargic and the dialogue was painfully bad. It did make me interested in reading more about the Manhattan Project. These authors are not in the league with the "big boys" - Connelly, Lipman, etal...more info
  • Great forensic suspense!


    With the Kathy Reichs appreciative blurb, I trusted that Bones of Betrayal would probably be pretty good.

    By the tenth chapter I realized that, in picking up this wonderfully well-written book, I'd missed the entire first half of a game I'd wanted to watch.

    Body Farms are research facilities in which deceased humans, in various stages of decomposition, are studied. This gives students, as well as practicing scientists and investigators, a better understanding of human decomposition, for forensic and crime investigation work. It may not be the most pleasant of studies, but it's useful and necessary.

    Narrator/protagonist Bill Brockton was called from the Body Farm in Tennessee when a deceased man, frozen in a swimming pool, was found in Oak Ridge. Now a sleepy town, Oak Ridge was once one of the hottest research facilities of the Manhattan Project - the US Government project inventing and studying atoms and molecules to invent the atomic bomb. The quiet town held not one, but two, mysteries, given the identity of the frozen man.

    During the autopsy of the man, renowned physicist Dr. Leonard Novak, the still-dangerous murder weapon threatened not only the life of Dr. Eddie Garcia, medical examiner, but also that of Dr. Brockton's assistant, Miranda Lovelady.

    What amazed me most was how well author Jefferson Bass - strictly speaking, Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson - wove the characters into the existing city of Oak Ridge. While Oak Ridge residents may disagree, the insertion appears seamless. Furthermore, physics explanations are not too tedious for a layman to understand.

    With science-as-fiction saturating the book marketplace, Jefferson Bass's Bones of Betrayal floats, if you'll pardon the pun, with the cr¨¨me de la cr¨¨me, rising above mediocre attempts at the genre as only a forensic anthropologist would be able to. The story stands alone, meaning that the reader doesn't need the previous books to follow. However, I'll be reading Jefferson Bass's earlier books just because Bones of Betrayal was THAT good.

    I'll also be looking forward to a sequel, because the outcomes of Miranda Lovelady and Eddie Garcia are hanging......more info
  • Boring!
    If you're looking for a good mystery, with some realistic forensics, avoid this book. It suffers from what I think of as "expertitis" - an expert presenting himself as an author, rather than an author with a good command of his (or her) subject. Very little of the book actually was addressed to the mystery itself - huge chunks were either expert digressions (interesting if you want a history of Oak Ridge, or how to handle a radiation contamination) or travel guide stuff, which did absolutely nothing to flesh out the characters or advance the plot. The situation is not helped by the coauthor, who as a journalist is more familiar with presenting factual information, not telling a good story. Neither author seems to have much of an imagination - the plot points (what there are, anyway) plod in a straight line from A to B to C. A note at the victim's residence that says " I know your secret" - naming a character "Darcy Bennet" (Austen, much?) - come on!...more info
  • Eh, it was Ok
    I found the last part of this book the best part, probably the last chapter, I like the fact that the series is set in my home town and I can imagine where the characters are. I liked the first two better. This one I had to force myself to read some parts. Maybe because I'm not into Wars and things, I wish there was more than just history....more info
  • not what I thought
    I thought this book was about just the body farm which it isn't. I'm sorry but I didn't like it. Could not get past the first chapter. I sure people who have read the other books will like it. ...more info
  • The Uses and Abuses of Radiation
    "Bones of Betrayal" is fourth in the Jefferson Bass "Bones" series.
    Mystery lovers will know that "Jefferson Bass" is the pseudonym of two authors, Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Bill Bass is a forensic anthropologist, and creator of the outdoor lab made famous as "The Body Farm," by forensics mystery author Patricia Cornwell. Jefferson is a freelance writer for "The New York Times" and other publications. He spoke at the 2007 crime weekend sponsored by the Wilmington, North Carolina Library, and seemed an educated, entertaining and likable fellow. Mystery lovers will also know, that so far, at least, the pair is writing about the body farm. Their protagonist sleuth, Bill Brockton, is an anthropology professor at the University of Tennessee, as was Bass, and head of its Anthropology Research Facility, that is, the body farm.

    Their current case takes Brockton to nearby Oak Ridge, TN, a city built by the feds in no time flat, in a rural, mountainous little-known corner of the state, whose residents were noted for their tendency to keep their mouths shut. That World War II vintage city was the site where, in total secrecy, thousands of people labored 24/7 to create the atom bomb that was shortly to end that war, as it was dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The authors have obviously done a mountain of research on Oak Ridge itself, the war, the creation of the bomb, its effects on the two Japanese cities bombed, and even the Soviet spies who were on site, gleaning whatever information they could. They cite to the fairly recently discovered Soviet Venona papers, a massive compendium of information on the U.S.S.R.'s wartime spies.

    Their protagonist Brockton is called to Oak Ridge to help extract a body from the frozen ice of a disused swimming pool on the grounds of a disused motel. The body soon turns out to be that of an elderly man, once one of Oak Ridge's important scientists on the Manhattan Project, as it was known, who has died an extremely cruel, radioactive death. Brockton, his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady, and employees from a confusing alphabet soup of various state and federal agencies, most particularly handsome Special Agent Charles Thornton of the FBI, are soon off investigating. They will look into the case, the history of Oak Ridge, and the uses and abuses of radiation. The case itself has some twists, turns, and red herrings. However, I'd have to say the mystery itself isn't the juiciest, not when perpetrators confess their crimes in long speeches. Most readers, I think, will find the meat of the book is in its historical side. However, the authors also have a tendency to stuff in some pretty long speeches about the history of things, that some readers may find dry. How you feel about the book may well depend upon how interested you are in WWII, the development of the bomb, and spies: all subjects that interest me.

    ...more info
  • Eh, it was Ok
    I found the last part of this book the best part, probably the last chapter, I like the fact that the series is set in my home town and I can imagine where the characters are. I liked the first two better. This one I had to force myself to read some parts. Maybe because I'm not into Wars and things, I wish there was more than just history....more info
  • A fascinating forensic mystery series
    If you are a fan of Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell, you will want to read the forensic mystery novels of Jefferson Bass. The protagonist of these novels, Dr. Bill Brockton is professionally similar to Temperance Brennan of the Kathy Reichs books: he is a forensic anthropologist, teaches college, and solves crimes using his training. He is also the fictional founder (like his real life counterpart, Dr. Bill Bass, half of the writing team known as Jefferson Bass) of the University of Tennessee's Body Farm featured in one of Patricia Cornwell's novels.

    The novel opens in the Body Farm during a training drill for dealing with acts of nuclear terrorism. That training drill becomes all too real when Dr. Brockton and his graduate assistant get involved with the death of a WWII-era nuclear scientist and, along with the medical examiner, become exposed to the deadly radiation that killed him. During the investigation they find evidence of a murder that took place more than 60 years ago.

    As part of the investigation into both deaths, Dr. Brockton researches the history of the Manhattan Project in the area and meets Isabella, a librarian who reminds him of his lost love and Beatrice Novak, the elderly ex-wife of the scientist. The book has a lot of information about the scientists and work that resulted in the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in WWII, along with the ethical dilemmas faced by those working on the project. I found this part of the book really fascinating.

    I had not read the first three books in the series and did not feel that was a liability in terms of enjoying this book. But I will definitely go back and read them as I enjoyed this book very much.
    ...more info
  • Brilliant!!
    I bought this book on February 27th and had it finished by February 28th. It was different from the other books in that there was a lot of history, but it was still amazing. I am in Knoxville now, but I have spent LOTS of time in Oak Ridge over the years. My boyfriend lived in Jackson Square last summer. The barracks have been turned into apartments now, and it's where he stayed while he was an intern at the Y12 plant. The apartments are charming, and his building had an amazing lounge in the front that felt like the 40's. I LOVED it. He could SEE Big Ed's pizza from the front of his building. We went and drove by the old inn and the swimming pool that the book mentions. It's all there, it's all amazing.

    *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

    The book doesn't talk as much about the body farm, and that's a good risk I think. Dr. Brockton had already lost his wife, and a lover, and after the radiation poisoning, it appeared he was fixing to lose another medical examiner and possibly Miranda. He's still a man running from grief, so to me it seems like he strives his hardest to keep from losing anybody else. The stuff about Oak Ridge is fun just because to drive through there, you would have NO idea what used to be there. It's an oddly laid out city, no doubt. The roads turn in on each other and run around and it can be somewhat confusing. It's brilliant. Oak Ridge will never cease to amaze me. I would love the chance to see the tunnels under the city.

    I thought the ending came quick, but it was good. It did leave some things unanswered, so I am waiting for the next book! I am actually going to a book signing given by Dr. Bass this week. I am SO excited.

    Read the book, don't expect the standard tale, open your mind and branch out some! ...more info
  • Worth The Read
    Discovery of an unidentified body in an Oak Ridge, Tenn., swimming pool begins a tale that ultimately unveils secrets hidden for more than 60 years.

    Body Farm founder Bill Brockton and his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady are drawn into this web of secrecy when it's discovered the victim from the pool has died of radiation poisoning and they, along with the medical examiner and a lead detective on the case, have been exposed and endangered.

    They also learn the victim is Dr. Leonard Novak, a renowned Manhattan Project physicist and designer of a plutonium reactor used in the creation of the first atomic bombs in 1945.

    Brockton is less endangered than Lovelady and the medical examiner. With the help of Novak's eccentric ex-wife and a librarian who reminds him of his lost love, Brockton delves into the mystery.

    Though fictional, the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson did their research and the novel provides a fascinating array of information on an aspect of history still impacting society and less known than it should be to the average person. There's also plenty on forensics and the horrors of radiation poisoning. If suspense and history aren't enough, there are also two romantic entanglements adding to the charm.

    The mystery wasn't difficult to solve but the story was fast-paced, entertaining and educational. Well worth the read.
    ...more info
  • Not much forensics, lots of history, contains a SPOILER
    I started reading these "Body Farm" books because I really like forensic mysteries and Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs both seem to have jumped the shark. I could tolerate the main character in these books up until this one. I really don't know any other man who falls in love as fast as this guy does; in lust, sure, but not in love. Anyhow, back to the book review. Lots of WWII era history, little forensics (the illustrations in this book are quite good). I have one major problem with the solution of one of the murders. **SPOILER** Brockton specifically states that Beatrice is right handed. He knows Jonah didn't commit suicide because he was left handed but was shot in the right side of his head. Beatrice then describes shooting Jonah while they were having sex. How did she shoot him in the right side of his head?**END SPOILER** The book is OK, not spectacular, hopefully the next one will be back to the forensic detail I like....more info
  • Brilliant Novel, Heavy on Intrigue and Realism
    The writing team of Jon Jefferson and William Bass has created yet another great novel in the tradition of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs. Drawing on Bass' expertise as one of the founders of the so-called "Body Farm" at University of Tennessee, the two have developed a gripping series of police procedurals.

    The latest installment in the Jefferson Bass oeuvre takes the reader from a corpse frozen in a swimming pool straight into the intrigue of the Manhattan Project -- the body is that of one of the primary scientists involved. As protagonist Bill Brockton (like Bass, a forensic anthropologist) and his team investigate the death, they find far more than they bargained for and place themselves in tremendous personal danger.

    Highly recommended for fans of the genre, and those interested in the nitty-gritty of forensic science far beyond what one sees on television.

    (Review based on uncorrected advance proof.) ...more info
  • Distracting Flaw - Spoiler Alert
    Who else caught the fact that Beatrice would have shot Jonah in the LEFT side of the head, had he been over her in bed -- unless she was left-handed and I don't believe we're ever told she is. Given the "stronger-left-arm-means-he-wouldn't-have-committed-suicide" thing, I find this extremely distracting. Have I missed something?

    Other than that, I love the gory little details the pair bring to their books. But, like virtually everyone else, every time the story devolved into reminiscences, my heart sank, my interest waned and I considered not finishing it. I'm also troubled that the protagonist would have fallen so easily into bed with Isabella. First date, first kiss, slept together? And, no, Miranda's explanation about being lost in the maze of bereavement of Jess simply doesn't explain it. I find the sex under those circumstances to be completely inconsistent with the character the authors have crafted over time. When a book (or movie, or tv show) suddenly takes me in a direction that is out of the character I have come to enjoy or trust, that's the death-knell of interest in the stories, for me. I'll have to see if I even want to read the next installment.

    MSHickey...more info
  • Need to know your history for this one
    Book four in the Body Farm series, we return to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with Dr. Bill Brockton, head of `the Body Farm" - the Anthropology Research Center where decomposing bodies were studied in various states for the advancement of forensic science. The latest experiment was in how to handle cases involving radiation, which was timed just right, apparently. Bill and his graduate assistant Miranda, fully recovered from their last adventure, head to the recovery of a body encased in ice in a motel pool in the middle of Oak Ridge, TN. Many don't know it, but that is where there used to be a nuclear research facility called the Manhattan Project during WWII. During the autopsy a small pellet is found in the necrotic organs of Dr. Leonard Novak, leading the team to the cause of death - radiation poisoning.

    Finding the source of the radiation becomes a priority, as well as finding out who wanted Dr. Novak dead after so many years. Using all the resources he can at his disposal, Bill follows a path through the past and present to solve the mysteries that have been brought before him.

    I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, and this one as well, but I felt a little out of my depth when thrown into the story of the Manhattan Project because I knew nothing about it. My knowledge of our nuclear history is left wanting, so I literally had no information, so any information I got was from Bass. So that was my only complaint - more of an intro would have been welcome.
    ...more info
  • What's with the Manhattan Project today???
    I enjoyed this book -- it had edgy moments and is a page turner. It's my first Body Farm novel but not my last. I'm looking forward to the other 3--love to get to know Bill Brockton and Miranda Lovelady even more.

    I never dreamed I'd like to know so much about the Manhattan Project, Oakridge Tennessee and the different illnesses from radiation over-exposure even the different forms of radiation.

    What a wonderful story that the authors have given us with all those and a few more elements and with great characters to it. It's fun to meet Beatrice Montgomery with all her memories of the Manhattan Project and Dr Leonard Novak as well as Isabella, the librarian.

    ...more info
  • Heavy on Forensic Detail
    I have to start out saying I really enjoyed this book- I have a strong stomach and an interest in forensic anthropolog. Forensic anthropology and its uses in criminalistics was the starting point for Dr. William Bass' body farm. If you have just stumbled on this book and don't know what the body farm is, I suggest a session of Google, because how the potential reader reacts to the idea of the body farm would be a fair indicator as to the degree of interest in this book.

    Dr. Bass is one of the authors of this book, the other being Jon Jefferson who also helped coauthor Bass' memoir about his experiences as a consultant on various criminal and civil cases---Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales. Together they have teamed up on three previous novels centering around forensic mysteries: The Devil's Bones: A Novel, Carved in Bone, and Flesh and Bone. Dr. Bill Brockton, the ongoing detective in this series now gets to take on the Manhattan Project-- that other 20th century Tennessee icon.

    While the writing is serviceable at best, it isn't the writing or even the plot that really inspires an interest in these books. It is the forensic detail. Hence, I recommend the strong stomach because theres is quite a bit of forensic detail about bodies exposed to radiation.

    Not exactly gritty but readable and interesting....more info