Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Smell of Decomposition in the Morning

Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab - The Body Farm - Where the Dead Do Tell Tales by William M. Bass, Jon Jefferson

Summary: Forensic science and murder investigations are among the most fascinating topics of our time. Dominating television and print media every season, both as fiction and nonfiction, the subject could not be hotter. As one of the world's leading forensic anthropologists, Dr. Bill Bass is the premier guide to this unusual world.

Nowhere is there another lab like Dr. Bass's: on a hillside in Tennessee, human bodies decompose in the open air, aided by insects, bacteria, and birds, unhindered by coffins or mausoleums. At the "Body Farm," nature takes its course with corpses buried in shallow graves, submerged in water, locked in trunks of cars. As scientific stand-ins for murder victims, they serve the needs of science-and the cause of justice.

For thirty years, Dr. Bass's research has revolutionized the field of forensic science, particularly by pinpointing "time since death" in murder cases. In his riveting book, he investigates real cases and leads readers on an unprecedented journey behind the locked gates of the "Body Farm." A master scientist and engaging storyteller, Bass shares his most intriguing cases: his revisit of the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder fifty years later; the mystery of a headless corpse, whose identity astonished police; the telltale bugs that finally sent a murderous grandfather to death row-and many more.

Review: A collection of tales with each one focusing on a specific case and some facts about Dr. Bass thrown in.

I really thought this book would be a good read or at least an interesting read. I love bones, the body, diseases, and how much forensics can tell us. I know that forensic anthropology along with forensic science would be nothing like they show on tv (although it would be cool if it was). Still, I was expecting some fascinating history and gruesome cases. Most of the cases are interesting enough, but their telling gets interrupted by Dr. Bass telling us another tidbit of his life or personal history.

I know that a lot of what he tells is about the history of forensic anthropology and does relate to the case being told. A lot of it is extraneous and adds nothing or little value. I am sure Dr. Bass is a great forensic anthropologist (he is certainly quick to tell us that), but I didn’t like him much as a person. He talks about killing snakes, gets married fourteen months after his first wife dies (something I can’t imagine doing on a personal level), and is always quick to tell us about how great he is.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in forensic anthropology.

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