Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book #9

Bones of Betrayal - Jefferson Bass

This "author" is interesting. This book, which is the 5th (I think) in a series is actually co-authored by Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bass is a forensic anthropologist and professor at University of Tennessee. He is the founder of the U of T's Anthropology Research Facility aka The Body Farm. The Body Farm is basically an area specifically designed to study decomposition in as many varied and creative ways as people who study that kind of stuff want to be. Using...yes, human bodies...people actually will donate their bodies to the farm for research in the event of their death. Crazy stuff! Jon Jefferson is a writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker that met Dr. Bass during the making of a documentary on The Body Farm. They now collaborate writing fiction about a forensic anthropologist and professor at U of T named Bill Brockton. (note the similarities, hmmm??)

Ok, I checked, this is the 5th book in the series. I have read the previous four as well. All very good, entertaining, funny-ish, well researched and accurate (as far as I can tell, anatomically nothing seems to be amiss, but really, what the hell do I know about forensics except what I have learned ready other books)

This particular book is about the mysterious murder of an old man from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Oak Ridge of Manhattan Project fame. The above mentioned old man is a physicist that worked on the Manhattan Project during WW2 and is murdered by the ingestion of iridium192 and subsequent radiation poisoning. A couple more bodies turn up along the way and then of course with the twists and turns of any good mystery there is a surprise at the end.

I was intrigued by the details surrounding the radiation poisoning. There is a lot of effort put into describing the "radiation incident" and the fall out (no pun intended) as a result. Keep in mind that the man's body held a radioactive substance and then was transported and sat in the morgue until it was discovered on autopsy that the body was contaminated. Multiple levels of exposure by multiple people. The books does a good job explaining the exposure, the protocols, the after effect's of exposure and so on. This captured my interest maybe a little more than the average Joe or Jody, due to the nature of my job that does involve a certain component of emergency preparedness. I do work with radiation experts and we do have protocols in place re: accidental radiation exposures and junk

The historical component of the book was also very good. There was a great deal of detail about the Manhattan Project, the "race for the bomb" and key people involved in it. Some was fictional and some was not. I really don't know very much about the history of WW2. Sad to say that I am very deficient in my knowledge of 20th century history, period. That was the one year in high school that history was optional and I chose to take art and home ec instead of history, Go figure. Anyway...
The book does get into the history of the "race for the bomb", a touch of espionage, and also a touch of ethics all in relation to the nuclear research of the time and where it lead.

There was a reference in the book to Dr. Strangelove. I am now going to have to watch this. We own it, so it's right there on the bookshelf. I do love Peter Sellers and am quite looking forward to watching this movie, now. I think I did start watching it once, but never finished. Will report back...of course.

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