What I read in December

I’ve struggled over what to blog about today. It’s my custom for my first blog post of a new month to be about what I read the previous month. It has occurred to me that my blog readers might not care what I read.

Three books read

I only read the following three books in December:  Without Mercy, by Jefferson Bass; The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville; and Silent Night, Deadly Night, by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

Jefferson Bass is one of my favorite author or, more accurately, author teams. (More on that later.) Conversely, I had never read books by Stuart Neville or Richard L. Mabry, M.D. before.

Silent Night, Deadly Night, by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

I follow Richard L. Mabry, M.D.’s blog. He is a retired physician whose new occupation is that of medical mystery writer. His medical expertise gives him a unique perspective on what violent murder does to the human body. In this Christmas novel, an older woman’s body is found in the snow. There are twists and turns as it becomes obvious that someone is also trying to kill her heirs.

The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville

Stuart Neville was recommended to me by my ophthalmologist. My doctor, who guided me through my 2016 bout with shingles in my right eye (and will continue to direct my care as the pain and itching is lapping over into 2017) is a collector of first editions of mystery novels. At my most recent appointment he noticed I had a book with me and inquired about its title and author. It was The One Man, by Andrew Gross. When I explained the premise of the book to him, he asked if I had read any Stuart Neville books. I had not, so we both came out of my appointment with notes about new authors to try. He said that The Ghosts of Belfast was perhaps Mr. Neville’s best book, so I checked it out at the public library.

The protagonist in The Ghosts of Belfast is tormented and egged on by the ghosts of the 12 people he killed during the conflicts between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. The only way he can escape from the 12 ghosts is to kill the men who forced him to kill them. There was more violence in The Ghosts of Belfast than I usually read, but the story line kept me too interested to not finish it. It was the first novel in Mr. Neville’s Jack Lennon Investigations Series.

Without Mercy, by Jefferson Bass

As stated earlier, Jefferson Bass is one of my favorite author duos. Jon Jefferson is the writer and Dr. William Bass is the expert adviser, forming the pen name, Jefferson Bass. Dr. Bass started the The Body Farm at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1971 to advance the study of human decomposition and forensic science.

I have read all of The Body Farm series of novels by Jefferson Bass. If forensic science interests you and you enjoy reading mysteries, I recommend this series of books. I also recommend that you read them in their order of publication. It’s not absolutely necessary; however, in some cases it is helpful to know the personal and professional history of protagonist, Dr. Bill Brockton.

Without Mercy repeated a little too much of Dr. Brockton’s history to suit me. At times it seemed the rehashing of murder cases from earlier books in the series was being used to stretch this book. That was disappointing. The author’s note at the end of the novel indicated that Jefferson Bass, like Dr. Bill Brockton, was taking a sabbatical, leaving me to wonder if Without Mercy will be the last book written by this entertaining writing team. I hope not, because by next fall I’ll be going through “Jefferson Bass withdrawal” and yearning for another dose of East Tennessee murder drama.

Until my next blog post. . . I hope you have a good book to read and, if you’re a writer, I wish you productive writing time.


The Breaking Point by Jefferson Bass

The Breaking Point, by Jefferson Bass is one of those books you eagerly devour because you want to know how it ends; however, you don’t want to finish it because there isn’t another Jefferson Bass book to read until the next one is published.

If you aren’t familiar with the writing team of Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass, please add them to your reading list. Dr. Bass is a world-renowned forensic anthropologist. He created the Anthropology Research Facility at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. It is popularly called the Body Farm. Dr. Bass teamed up with writer Jon Jefferson to write a Body Farm series of novels. The novels explore the many ways in which a forensic anthropologist can find evidence in a dead body that will help solve the mystery of how that person died or who that person was. It sounds gruesome, but it really is not. The books touch on the details of such work, but only enough to educate the reader and give the books credence.

Although each book in the Body Farm Novel series can be read as a stand-alone, I recommend that you read the series in chronological order. Particularly, one should read Cut to the Bone (released in 2013) before reading The Breaking Point. There is a spoiler in The Breaking Point that will take some of the edge off the suspense in Cut to the Bone, if you haven’t read it.

Typical of the Jefferson Bass Body Farm novels, The Breaking Point takes the reader down a path with countless twists and turns. I believe it is my favorite book in the series because it puts Dr. Bill Brockton (the series protagonist whose life and work are based on that of Dr. Bill Bass) in several simultaneous predicaments from which the reader wonders if he can extricate himself. I won’t state here whether or not Dr. Brockton survives The Breaking Point. All the loose ends are tied up in the end yet, as in any good series, the door is left open for a new adventure.