Inside:  Carved in Bone, despite some minor weaknesses in plot, is a thoroughly engaging story perfect for science buffs and fans of CSI.  *Note: This Carved in Bone review has an Amazon Affiliate link.

This Carved in Bone review contains my own opinions and impressions.  I did not receive a complimentary publishers copy.  I have read most of the volumes in this series and have been a fan of Dr. Bill Bass’ work – both fiction and nonfiction for many years.  This novel is the first book of the Body Farm series written by the writing team of Jefferson Bass.  It is a forensic crime drama based loosely on the life and work of one of the writing team Dr. William Bass.

Carved in Bone

  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • Authors: Jefferson Bass
  • ©2006 Jefferson Bass, LLC
  • ISBN-10:  006075981X
  • ISBN-13:  978-0060759810
  • Genre – Fiction/Forensic Crime Drama

The Writing Team of Carved in Bone

Dr. Bill Bass is a world-renowned forensic anthropologist.  25 years ago he founded the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Research Facility also known as the Body Farm.  He wears many hats as a teacher, forensic anthropologist, researcher and author.

Jon Jefferson, the other esteemed member of this writing team is a veteran journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker.  He has published in the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today and Popular Science.  He was a writer and producer of two National Geographic documentaries about Bill Bass’ ‘Body Farm’.  Thus, he was a natural to co-author a series of fictional forensic stories with Bill Bass.

But the rise of forensic anthropology – using the tools of physical anthropology to help solve crimes – seems to be elevating the profile of the bone detectives.  It’s amazing what you can learn about murder victims by studying their skulls, their rib cages, their pelvises, and other bones.” — Bill Brockton, Carved in Bone, pg. 10

Carved in Bone Review: Storyline

A fallen football hero who becomes sheriff, rogue cops, hidden secrets and long-lost love in the mountains of Cooke County Tennessee are the backdrop of this riveting story.  A woman’s body is found in a cave that became her lonely resting place.  It was uniquely preserved for 30 years because it was exposed to conditions ripe for creating adicopere.  Her remains were translucent yet beautiful.  The cool yet damp cave had reduced her body to a gelatinous mass – she had been turned to soap. Who was this young woman and why was she killed?  Why was she hidden and laid with such care in this remote, lonely cave?  The twists and turns of this riveting story lead the reader to discover the answers to these questions.

“The light caught and back-lit the wing of a buzzard.  The bird was gliding effortlessly, patiently above the Body Farm, riding the wind, the scent, and his own mysterious yearnings.  He might not fully comprehend why he was down to delve into the messy details of death.  But delve he did – with grace and gusto. — Bill Brockton, pgs 433-434, Carved in Stone — This quote marvelously mirrors Dr. Brockton’s own feelings about his profession 


Dr. Bill Brockton is the protagonist of Carved in Bone as he is for the series of Body Farm novels of which Carved in Bone is the first.  A widower who works in the anthropology department of Tennessee, he is also the founder and a researcher of the University’s ‘Body Farm’.  His unique skill set means he is called upon to aid in interesting and often gruesome crime scenes.  Who ya gonna call for the soapy remains in this case – your friendly, local Forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill!

Carved in Bone Review:  My Impressions

There are times in the story where you’ll wonder for such a smart man why he doesn’t see the twists in the plot-line coming.  The plot of the story is quite transparent but these are minor distractions, for me anyway.

The story is still hugely entertaining.  The backdrop of the Tennessee mountains provides for some stunning descriptive narrative.  Additionally, colorful characters and an ample sprinkling of humor keep the reader engaged.  There are enough gruesome details to keep an avid forensic fan embroiled in the storyline.  Bill Brockton is extremely likable.  He has a strong character that draws in readers and yet his faults also make him a sympathetic character.

Despite the weaknesses in plotline, my love of science and forensics hooked me on the story.  A tightening up of the story-line would make this a five-star read.
I love science and murder mysteries and this book combines both loves admirably. Years ago I devoured non-fiction written by Dr. Bill Bass.  I discovered his fictional series rooted in mystery and forensic anthropology a few years ago and have been hooked ever since.

Carved in Bone is not for the faint of heart. Share on X Bill Bass bases these stories on his own experiences working with law enforcement and elements from his own case files sneak into the storyline.
But if you love getting into the nitty-gritty, often gross science of forensics, including the autopsy process forensic anthropologist style, you’ll love Carved in Bone, as well as the entire Body Farm series.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate I do benefit financially when you click on the Amazon link above.