Without Mercy by Jefferson Bass

"Some days I think we're making progress. Other days, I think the problem is just human nature itself, stretching all the way back to Adam and Eve."

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing The Inquisitor's Key by the fabulous Jefferson Bass duo. That novel was my first introduction to their Body Farm series featuring forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton. I really enjoyed reading that novel, and appreciated the way Bass crafted a story that was both a religious thriller and brilliant character study. When I was contacted by the publisher to read Bass's latest novel Without Mercy, I jumped at the opportunity.

Dr. Bill Brockton heads up The Body Farm, a University of Tennessee institution that he founded and maintains. Assisted by his doctoral student Miranda, Brockton has become a leading name in anthropology and one of law enforcement's go-to guys. His latest assignment finds Brockton investigating the partial remains of a person who seems to have been chained to a tree and left for dead. Without a full skeleton and with limited evidence that was tarnished by time, Dr. Brockton finds himself facing one of the most gruesome crimes of his career.

On top of the usual vigor of his job, Brockton also faces some added stress on the personal front. Miranda his student and assistant is presenting her thesis soon and is beginning to look for a place to start her career. Unable to face the implications of this impending vacancy, Brockton buries himself in the one place he always feels safe. . . his work. But even his job is beginning to abandon him. With advancements in technology and methodology exceeding Brockton's own expertise, he begins to question his relevance in the field that he's devoted his life to.

Just when everything is looking grim, things get even worse. Brockton receives word that Nick Satterfield, a sadistic murderer who he helped put behind bars, has escaped from prison. Suddenly, he is forced into facing a nemesis that he thought he was done with. With the added pressures of both his personal and professional life caving in on him, Brockton fears for both his sanity and his life.

In Without Mercy, the tenth installment in the series, Jefferson Bass presents a fast paced mystery that will have you reading into all hours of the night. Beyond the thriller, it is the intense depth of Brockton's character that will leave a lasting impression. I was riveted by the way Brockton faced the threat of becoming obsolete in a field that he pioneered. Even though I am not a faithful reader of the series, Bass's writing helped me to grasp the context and emotional implications of the characters. Even with an ending that veered a bit too far from reality, Without Mercy is a solid thriller that provides everything a fan of the genre is looking for.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2016, 30)

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