Cut to the Bone by Jefferson Bass (Body Farm Series #8)

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Cut to the Bone is the latest offering in the Body Farm series, however, it is also the very first book in the chronological order set in the early 90s.  If you want to read the Jefferson Bass books in order – in the proper chronological order, you should start with this book.While the rest of the novels follow the team at the Body Farm in the current times, Cut to the Bone goes back to the beginning when Dr. Bill Brockton has the idea to set up a space for it and puts his plan into practice as well.

I haven’t read any of the other Body Farm books in the series, so I was pleasantly surprised when this new book came out because I could treat it as the first novel. I have already aligned the rest of the series for later to read.

In this prequel, Dr. B has to deal with a serial killer which is revealed right at the beginning of the novel. I am usually more drawn to books that make known the killer at the end of the story, however here Jefferson Bass, the duo author Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass, pull it off really well. I found myself not minding at all who the killer is, and instead of getting interested in his reasons for his actions. It was actually fun to read part of the book from the killer’s point of view.

Dr. Brockton is helping his graduate student learn more about forensic science while also learning himself more about how to determine when a person was killed. So far, he says, finding out this information was quite difficult, if not impossible, and part of the book deals with him focusing on this. He realizes that something has to be done if the police want to really find out killers – they definitely have to start with finding the accurate time of death.

Of course, the fact that he once or twice in the past misjudged the actual time of death, eats at him all the time and is a major contributor for his quest to learn the time of death as accurately as possible.

When Dr. B is brought to check out a body of a female that was murdered in a horrific way, something nags at the back of his mind. And when he is called to check out on further bodies, all women and all killed in the same gruesome ways, he realizes that they all have a connection with cases from his own past. The killer stages and props the bodies to look just like in older scenes that Dr. Brockton has already been involved in.

So what is the connection between Dr. Brockton, the new killings, and the killer? It is a very intriguing case that really kept me on the edge of my seat all the time.

I found this novel really gripping and enthralling. The vivid descriptions of the bodies were so detailed that I could literally see them in front of my eyes. Btw if you are wary of reading shocking graphic details, this book might really shake you to the core.

While I didn’t agree with or like the killer’s reasons, I did find myself in a way understanding them. I guess it’s due to the way the author revealed the killer early on. This added a whole new dimension to the whole storyline. Characters here are definitely on 2D cartoon-like.

Even the doctor’s graduate student, Tyler, is a fun character, a real person with real problems, needs, and yearnings. While I don’t know whether he will still be later on with the team in subsequent books, I totally warmed up to him and his quirky humor and the constant banter between him and his mentor.

As I love reading about CSI style novels, I really enjoyed all the descriptions of the newly established body farm, the thought process that dr. B had throughout regarding his idea of learning from insect growth to determine the actual time of death, and it was fun to compare with more modern technologies of today and to see how far we’d actually come since 1992, the fictional date when the Body Farm was created (in reality it was created about 20 or so years before that).

I love reading books by Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell and other mystery authors that tackle forensic science, but somehow this book grabbed me more than many others I’ve read over the years.

So should you start the series from Carved in Bone, the official book #1 in the series, or with Cut to the Bone? While I haven’t read Carved in Bone yet, I was totally happy with starting with the 8th book in the series, Cut to the Bone. I didn’t lose track of anything, and in fact, I think once I’ll continue with the series, I’ll have a much better understanding of the entire background that leads to forming the Body Farm.

The Body Farm is a series that I am now determined to read to the very last one including the various short novellas in between the major books in the series.

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