Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ket in an alternate life

Title: Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science
Authors: Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

I think this is some of the most interesting stuff out there. This book is a non-fictional account of several forensic cases that Dr. Bass was involved with over the past 30+ years. He’s possibly the most respected and senior forensic anthropologist out there; he headed the University of Tennessee’s ground-breaking programs for decades, and was responsible for the creation of the world’s first body farm, where they study how bodies decompose (the basis for all the stuff you see on CSI and similar programs where they do things like determine time of death based on what bugs are on the body because years of observation have allowed them to standardize the life-cycles).

Bass walks you through several cases, each using a different specialty, including analyzing cuts on bones, identifying body parts resulting from major explosions, making DNA-identifications, facial reconstruction, determining cause of death of a burned corpse, and so on. Ridiculously interesting – it’s stuff like this that makes me want to go back to school (seriously, why didn’t I go for the major in Anthro, rather than my minor??). Bass has also written some fiction, which I haven’t read but I’m guessing is much like what Kathy Reichs writes (aka the basis of Bones – another group of books that make me regret some schooling decisions…). It’s nice to get a realistic picture of what goes on with forensic cases, rather than the formulaic and delusional version presented to the masses on TV (“Sure, we can get that DNA processed and matched in about 20 minutes!”). It doesn’t get very graphic, so the squeamish ones out there should only be marginally uncomfortable with the subject matter, but it’s definitely detailed enough for the crazy gore-lovers like me to be happy. I’ll be tracking down the rest of his books ASAP.

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posted by ket at 5:26 PM


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Oh, Bones rocks! I haven't read Reich's actual books yet, but the show is one of my favorites. Huzzah for the cold, rational analysis of gruesome death!

10/23/2007 10:52 PM  

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