Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Review: FLESH AND BONE by Jefferson Bass


Publisher: Quercus
Published: 2007
ISBN: 978 1 84724 280 8


I'm always excited when I read a book that is first in a new series that I enjoy. A few weeks ago I reviewed Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass, the first in the Body Farm series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So it was with some anticipation I picked up FLESH AND BONE; the 2nd in the series.

Sadly, FLESH AND BONE didn't live up to my expectations. The plot revolves around the protagonist, Dr Bill Brockton being framed for the murder of a close friend. There is also a secondary thread of the murder of a man who had been dressed as a woman. Are they connected?

What worked so well in the first book seems be lacklustre in this one. There are so many cliches that I don't know where to begin. The first is the hero being framed for murder by someone with a grudge. It was patently obvious to me who it was almost from the word go. I could see only one suspect. Then there is the transgender "southern belle" nightclub singer with a heart of gold. Oh pu-leaze. And let's not forget the defence lawyer who is a shark; up until he defends the hero, whereupon he sees the light and stops taking on cases where he knows the accused is guilty. This is where the book almost hit my bedroom wall with great velocity; if it hadn't been a library book it might have. And what cliche wouldn't be complete without a gathering of the book's characters at the end to pay tribute to one of their fallen colleagues. Yes, folks that was thrown in there too.

Dr Bill Brockton is painted as a good man, who is uncomplicated and does a difficult job. Now that's all very fine when the book f0cuses on the job. You like the guy and the job is fascinating, but when that uncomplicated man is in a relationship that is the focus of the book, it falls down completely. Romances involving uncomplicated characters just aren't interesting.

After such a good debut, I'm prepared to give Bass another chance but it will be a while before I try another of his books.

4 comments:

Bernadette in Australia said...

What a shame Sunnie. I always reach for the second book in a series with a mixture of anticipation and dread :) One of my relatively new rules too is that I don't read books in the same series within 6 months of each other to avoid that 'stale familiarity'. Although with this one it sounds like it wouldn't have mattered much how long you left it.

Sunnie Gill said...

That's close to my usual rule as well, Bernadette. Breaking it bit me on the bum well and truly this time.

On the up side, I did pick up ONCE WERE COPS by Ken Bruen and that's a ripper.. Review to follow in a day or so I suspect.

maxine said...

Sorry to read this, too, Sunnie. I have not read any of this series but they are published by Quercus in the UK, a great publisher, and so I've been reading about them in the catalogues and tempted to give them a try, even though serial killers are not my thing and I am rather wary of Scarpetta-like books as there are just so many of them and just too few permutations of the subgenre. Still thinking about it.... The author is really two people, I think - maybe that makes a difference (though I liked the first Michael Stanley - but perhaps should steer clear of the second!!!).

Sunnie Gill said...

Yes, Maxine, there are two authors. Bill Bass who is the founder of the body farm and journalist Jon Jefferson (I think is his name from memory)

Still, the first book is worth reading. I will give book 3 a try but only after a long break.

As for Michael Stanley. I have the 2nd Detective Kubu book waiting to be read. Karen from Austcrimefiction has read the 2nd and really enjoyed it.