4 star

Without Mercy

Body Farm, Book #10

By Jefferson Bass

ISBN# 9780062363220

Author Website: www.jeffersonbass.com


without-mercyBrought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


In the most suspenseful installment of the New York Times bestselling Body Farm series to date, forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton investigates a bizarre murder—and confronts a deadly enemy he thought he’d put behind bars for good.

Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton has spent twenty-five years solving brutal murders—but none so bizarre and merciless as his latest case: A ravaged set of skeletal remains is found chained to a tree on a remote mountainside. As Brockton and his assistant Miranda dig deeper, they uncover warning signs of a deadly eruption of hatred and violence.

But the shocking case is only the beginning of Brockton’s trials. Mid-case, the unthinkable happens: The deadliest criminal Brockton has ever foiled—the sadistic serial killer Nick Satterfield—escapes from prison, bent on vengeance.

But simply killing Brockton isn’t enough. Satterfield wants to make him suffer first, by destroying everything he holds dear: Brockton’s son, daughter-in-law, grandsons; even Miranda, his longtime graduate assistant, now on the verge of completing her Ph.D. and launching a forensic career of her own.

The dangers from all directions force Brockton to question two things on which he’s based his entire career—the justice system, and the quality of mercy—and to wonder: can the two co-exist? (Goodreads)



Within the pages of Without Mercy, readers find one of the most disturbing, horrific crimes that stays with you long after the last page.  As always, Jefferson Bass has penned a smart, insightful thriller that is well worth reading.

Dr. Bill Brockton’s world is changing.  His research assistant and doctoral student Miranda is getting ready to defend her dissertation and leave the Farm.  Consciously or not, Bill deals with his impending loss by not dealing with it, first by ignoring the inevitable then by trying to figure out a way to keep Miranda at the University of Tennessee and the Body Farm.  Additionally, he does not know how to interpret the signals he is suddenly getting from his longtime secretary and is also questioning his ability to keep up with the changing ideas and technology in the field that he pioneered.

He is called out to a crime scene in a rural county known for its rough history.  There he finds one of the most baffling cases he has ever faced, a partial skeleton chained to a tree.  He and Miranda have a real puzzle on their hands in trying to identify the victim and piece together the scene.  I do not want to ruin the book with details here, but this man’s death turns out to be one of the most heinous, disturbing, and heartbreaking scenarios that I have read about in a very long time.  It really makes one think that there is pure evil out in the world.  In the midst of this case, a man who holds Bill responsible for ruining his life escapes from prison in one of the most clever and intense diversions I have read.  Nick Satterfield is out for revenge, and all those Bill holds dear are in danger.  Bill’s personal and professional lives collide in a dangerous and exciting climax.

I have enjoyed all of the Body Farm books, and Without Mercy is no exception.  Jefferson Bass always manages to balance deeply developed, realistic characters with action packed thriller.  Bill is an unlikely “action” hero, yet it always seems to work.  The climax here might be a bit implausible, but the rest of the book more than makes up for it.  Without Mercy touches on all of the current hot topics – race relations, cultural differences, intolerance, hate, native civilizations pushed to the point of extinction, political correctness…all timely issues, but at times it comes across as little too much, a tad preachy.  It makes me sad and disgusted to think that people can really be so horrible, and that the thoughts and actions presented here are not exaggerations of the real world.

Without Mercy does have a sense of finality about it, and after ten books, I think the authors are taking a break from the series.  I do hope Dr. Bill and the Body Farm return in the future.  I recommend Without Mercy to fans of the Body Farm series, those who enjoy forensic anthropology, and readers who appreciate smart characters with a big dose of danger and suspense.