cover image Carved in Bone

Carved in Bone

Jefferson Bass, . . Morrow, $24.95 (343pp) ISBN 978-0-06-075981-0

The pseudonymous Bass makes a successful first foray into fiction. The author is actually the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass, the forensic anthropologist who founded the legendary Body Farm (Tennessee's experimental laboratory devoted to the study of the way human corpses decompose), and Jon Jefferson, a journalist and filmmaker. Their new sleuth, Dr. Bill Brockton, is obviously based on Dr. Bass, sharing his first name, initials and his status as founder of the Body Farm. (The two coauthored Death's Acre , a nonfiction account of that macabre if scientifically valuable facility.) Still recovering from the emotional devastation of his wife's death, Dr. Brockton stumbles across a mummified female body, and his passion for the truth enmeshes him in a probe that verifies rumors of local corruption. His particular skills are vital to identifying the corpse as well as those who might have been motivated to kill the victim decades earlier. The pacing and action bode well for this crime series, though mystery fans who enjoy whodunits might hope that subsequent books pose more of a puzzle. 7-city author tour. (Feb.)