Jefferson Bass' "The Bone Thief" is an updated story of body-snatching centered around the University of Tennessee's famous forensic laboratory dubbed the Body Farm. (Harper, 344 pages)
In this latest novel, forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton is called to exhume a body to procure a DNA sample for a paternity test. He is shocked to find that certain parts of the corpse have been harvested. The mild-mannered professor encounters the unethical world of the "postmortem chop shops" which deal in body parts.
Brockton goes undercover for the FBI to bring down an illegal "chop shop" and puts his reputation and career on the line, to say nothing of his friendship with his assistant, Miranda.
To add to the suspense, he finds that he may have fathered a child with Isabella, the infamous "A-Bomb Avenger" on the lam for having killed a retired Oak Ridge physicist who had worked on the Manhattan Project. (Readers will enjoy this earlier book, "Bones of Betrayal.")
In their most thoughtful work to date, the writing team of Jefferson Bass (Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson) take the reader through a provocative treatment of such thorny issues as organ donation and tissue harvesting.
One memorable snippet from the book is the statistic that in 2008, there were over 400,000 breast augmentation procedures performed; while in that same year, there were a mere 2,163 life-saving heart transplants.
This talented duo offer up some astute observations on the benefits of biomedical research and organ donation and the pitfalls of unscrupulous characters who place profit above human decency.