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by Beverly Connor
Onyx, September 2004
384 pages
ISBN: 0451411501

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sheriff Mick Braden calls Rosewood museum director and forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon to a bizarre scene in the woods near her Georgia museum. Three hanging bodies, with their necks stretched one to three feet, are dangling from trees. A fourth, empty, noose is found in a nearby tree.

After the medical examiner Lynn Webber comes and has the bodies removed for autopsy, Fallon calls in her forensic team to try to find any clues to the gangland style murders. She circles around to attempt to find the location of the vehicle that brought the people to their place of death, but all she finds is a couple of census takers for the local lumber company, counting cuttable trees.

With Dr Webber's permission, Diane observes the autopsy. She leaves the corpses for Lynn's coroner's assistant to clean. Fallon works on the bones only and she is favorably impressed with the job Webber's assistant has done. However, things start getting complicated when one of the lumber men is found dead in his apartment in town and the other one cannot be located. The chief of police calls on Fallon but is skeptical about her abilities, unlike the sheriff.

This series shows fascinating insight into the way an anthropologist works and reconstructs the appearance of life from nothing more than bones. Fallon and her team, with only cleaned bones to work on, determine the identity of the victims and through them, the identity of the murderer and the reason for the murders.

The book is in the form of a traditional mystery. The deaths occur off-stage, but there are some graphic descriptions of an autopsy. There is some conflict between the ME and the anthropologist, but it is polite and civilized. Fallon also intercepts a pass from one of her younger employees with humor and grace. Connor has brought us into an unfamiliar world and makes us look for more.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, August 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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