Bookworm: 'The Inquisitor's Key'

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You’ve got your finger on the pulse.

You’re quick on the draw, Johnny-on-the-Spot, the person with answers. You have a clue. You’re onto what’s happening. You’re in the know.

Most of the time, anyhow.

Then there are times when you’re just as clueless as the next guy, as mystified as anyone, which is what happened to Dr. Bill Brockton. When an ancient set of bones is discovered in an unusual place, they could be a historical treasure, or they could be just bones. In the new novel The Inquisitor’s Key by Jefferson Bass, the dead man tells no tales.

There was a lot of work to do on the University of Tennessee’s Body Farm – there always was – and though Brockton could handle it, his assistant, Miranda Lovelady, was on his mind.

Her opportunity was one that even Brockton could appreciate. Working in France with world-renowned archaeologist Stefan Beauvoir would be great for her, so Brockton allowed her a leave of absence. The timing was right; school was out, so it was quiet. He just didn’t realize how much her absence would mean.

So when an emergency call came, claiming that Miranda was ill, Brockton wasted no time in securing a flight to France. The timing was right here, too; he had been investigating a homicide with ties to a drug cartel, and DEA officials said it wasn’t safe to stick around.

But Miranda was fine. She knew that “emergency” was the only reason Brockton would leave Tennessee, and she knew that what Beauvoir had found would be of great interest to a forensic archaeologist such as Brockton.

It could be the find of a lifetime.

Hidden behind the fake wall of a medieval fortress that was once a palace for popes, Beauvoir discovered a bone-filled ossuary. Laid out, the remains indicated that their owner had been tortured, stabbed and crucified. The bones were obviously centuries old – but whose were they?

Before Brockton and Beauvoir could find out, it became clear that others wanted to know, too. The Vatican was keenly interested in the remains, but so was someone else, someone who would stop at nothing to have them.

I have to admit that my first thought, when I started The Inquisitor’s Key was, “Oh, no, not another Vatican-based mystery.”

My second thought was that this novel isn’t like the others. This is the kind of book that you’ll like if you want realism and a touch of gruesome mixed in your whodunit.

The secret is in the name of the author: Jefferson Bass is the pen name of forensic anthropologist Bill Bass and journalist Jon Jefferson.Writing in tandem, Bass lends sharp authenticity to this detective series, while Jefferson gives it the excitement that readers of this genre demand.

Though it’s the latest in the Body Farm Novels, The Inquisitor’s Key can surely be read as a standalone, but beware: immerse yourself in Brockton’s world, and you’ll want more. For mystery lovers, here’s a series you’ll want to get your fingers around.


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