Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab, The Body Farm
4 journalers for this copy...
Dr. Bass is perhaps best known for the "body farm", the research facility he set up at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the knowledge gained from that facility has added greatly to forensic research. But the book touches on cases from long before the body farm was created - it opens with the examination of bones from the Lindbergh kidnapping. (This is one of many cases where the available evidence is not sufficient to prove - or disprove - a specific theory; despite the tendency of shows like C.S.I. to tell us that "the evidence never lies," there just isn't always enough evidence in good enough shape to be useful.)
Bass' experience ranges from studying the burial pits of Arikara tribes to identifying corpses - some of which are recent victims of accident or homicide, while others are a bit older. The account of a corpse that appeared to be only a year or two dead but that turned out to be the body of a very well-preserved Civil War victim was especially fascinating.
In fact, that Civil War case was one of the things that inspired Bass to create the body farm; he wanted to have some way to run controlled studies of post mortem changes in bodies under a variety of conditions, from complete burials to being stowed in the trunks of cars, etc. Anything that a killer might do to hide a body, or that accident might do to conceal one, could be studied and measurements gathered such that they could reverse the process and get a more valid time of death for a newly-discovered body. (The idea sounds perfectly logical, but the process had its ups and downs.)
The book includes incidents from Bass' personal life as well, including heavy personal losses. But overall the tone's upbeat and busy, a cheerful voice from someone who spends his life with the dead...
*** Released as part of the 2013 TICK TOCK release challenge, for "death". ***
*** Released as part of the 2013 Halloween Spooktacular release challenge, for "death". ***
The story of how Bill Bass came to be involved in forensic anthropology and to start The Body Farm is almost as fascinating as the work done since that facility opened. I was especially taken with the mistake he made on time of death of Col. Shy and how they came to discover it and to use it as a starting point for further learning. I am afraid of giving too much away by discussing any of the discoveries made or cases worked because I enjoyed reading them so much. I will say I appreciate his willingness to try to find a place in his line of work for those with unorthodox interests and backgrounds, because I do think it has improved the practice of forensics over time.
Definitely recommended reading for anyone interested in forensics or criminology, but with the caveat that the subject matter of decaying and dismembered bodies is not for everyone.
I see this on the wishlist of someone who might have eventually received this very copy but for my own interest in it. I will have to send it along.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
After I read this, I checked to see if anyone was wishing for it. One of the names that came up was quietorchid, so I have popped it in the mail to her. She will get one of the books from her book box before the book box itself.
It was particuliarly interesting to hear his side of the stories that you run across in other forensic style books that talk about his antics. Yes, I had heard about his mishap with Colonel Shay, and his offhand comment about how long a body at a crime scene might have had been dead while he insisted they call the medical examiner as the corpse was 'too fresh' for him to take any sort of legal stance.
Enjoyable and refreshing in a weird sort of way.
And no surprise that I will be the one picking it out of the box, as I like my share of gory stuff too. I always find forensic science fascinating (from the safety and comfort of an armchair, I may add) so this one is definitely staying w me!