Without Mercy (Dr. Bill Brockton)

Written by Jefferson Bass

FORENSIC MYSTERIES. Dr. Bill Brockton is called to consult on a strange death in the woods of Cooke County Tennessee, a place he describes as “notorious for its frontier mentality and outlaw entrepreneurs.” Bill and his feisty doctoral student and assistant Miranda, drive up twisty roads into the Great Smokey Mountains, guided by an old friend Deputy Waylon. After they park the trucks and walk through the brush they come to a clearing dominated by a large dead tulip poplar tree. The tree’s cause of death is easy to diagnose. A sturdy chain wrapped around the massive trunk made a groove that girdles the tree. The chain extends thirty feet into the clearing where it ends in a series of padlocked loops.

“The loop was much smaller in diameter: perhaps five inches, no more than six—about the size of the circle I could make by touching the tips of my index fingers and my thumbs. It lay a few inches from a handful of cervical vertebrae, directly beneath the skull’s location. Except that there was no skull; only a scattering of other bones, many of them splintered and incomplete. Behind me I heard Miranda gasp. “Sweet Jesus on the cross,” she murmured. It was her strongest profanity, a phrase I’d heard her use only a handful of times in all the years we’d worked together. “Chained to a tree to die.”

With no skull and a jumble of bones that look like they’ve have been gnawed by wild animals, Dr. Brockton and Miranda face two big problems. While they think the bones are male, how can they identify the dead man, and what villain hated him enough to commit such a heinous crime. If that weren’t a tough enough challenge, a serial killer Dr. Brockton helped send to jail has escaped from a maximum security prison. Exacting a painful and protracted revenge on the doctor is at the top of his to do list.

At the end of the this book the authors’ note says that their hero Dr. Brockton is on Sabbatical and so are the two writers. How this plays out remains to be seen but don’t expect a new book in the next year or two.

William Morrow
October 4, 2016
352 pages