Having never read the prior Body Farm novels by Jefferson Bass, I recently received an advance copy of the new novel The Inquisitor’s Key. Within minuHaving never read the prior Body Farm novels by Jefferson Bass, I recently received an advance copy of the new novel The Inquisitor’s Key. Within minutes of cracking open the novel, I had a familiar yet infrequent experience: you know—that proud, greedy feeling you get when you finally discover an author (and trick yourself into believing that you were the first).
The Inquisitor’s Key features dual narrative arcs on a collision course with one another—a modern-day murder mystery with a case of unidentified bones and a medieval account of a ruthless inquisitor-turned-pope in Avignon, France—and I must say that the author deftly and seamlessly bridges not only continents but centuries as well.
Those familiar and unfamiliar with the Body Farm novels will be excited to pick up the trail of Dr. Bill Brockton, renowned forensic anthropologist and founder of the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) calls him away from his grisly yet fascinating scientific studies to investigate a body at a local murder scene. But what’s in store for Dr. Brockton is definitely out of the jurisdiction of the TBI: the bones that await his expertise in Avignon, France could represent the most groundbreaking archaeological discovery of the past two thousand years! The urgent question then becomes—who will kill to possess these bones and who will die to keep their existence secret from humanity (and why)?
In this fast-paced, intelligent thriller, Jefferson Bass explores the history of art and religion, the science of forensic anthropology and the architecture and geography of modern-day Europe. Transcending genre, the novel becomes an unforgettable commentary on mankind’s two mistresses: superstition and science.
In his startling debut novel, Wiley Cash explores the backwoods mountain country of North Carolina and allows an eccentric cast of characters to do thIn his startling debut novel, Wiley Cash explores the backwoods mountain country of North Carolina and allows an eccentric cast of characters to do the talking, including one of the most memorable villains I’ve met this year: an ex-meth-cooker-turned-charismatic-pastor. A Land More Kind Than Home is the story of two brothers, Jess and Stump Hall, whose mother is under the spell of a fanatical, snake-handling pastor. In many ways this is a timeless tale of good vs. evil, forgiveness and revenge, redemption and self-destruction. Reminiscent of—but not quite the same caliber as—Larry Brown’s novel Father and Son(, which is a great compliment).
A Land More Kind Than Home has three narrators—Adelaide Lyle, an elderly woman who is more culpable for what happens throughout the novel than perhaps she believes (which strips her last section in the novel of its power, in my opinion, because she doesn’t own up to her own guilt and the town's guilt for not speaking up against zealotry); Jess Hall, the nine-year-old brother of Stump and son of Julie and Ben; and Sheriff Clem Barefield, a man who has his own troubles with forgiveness (and an itchy trigger finger).
Although at times its narrative voices sound a little too similar, although its last page, for some reason, really pissed me off, A Land More Kind Than Home is a must-read Southern novel from a novelist I’ll be keeping my good eye on.
Haunting collection of stories about suicide from multiple points of view, not only tragic but sometimes triumphant. An articulate account of the confHaunting collection of stories about suicide from multiple points of view, not only tragic but sometimes triumphant. An articulate account of the confusion and anguish caused by suicidal behavior. Would it sound weird, though, if I also said there were some truly hysterical/hilarious moments?...more