Death’s Acre Camille Mumm
Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson Composition 105
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
“Either way you’ll still find me at the Body Farm when I die. Not anytime soon, though. I don’t want to die. I have too much to do. Books to write. Grandchildren to play with. Killers to catch.”
This half of the Death’s Acre is drastically different from the first half. In this half Dr. Bass is already well established as is the Body Farm and what it does. In this half Dr. Bass tells a variety of stories. He tells of certain cases that stick in his memory and then tells why they were important. In each of the examples he gives he learns something new or uses the story to introduce a new character. It makes for a really good book because the short case stories are built into a larger picture of Dr. Bass’s life and intellectual growth.
The first story that he gives in this half of the book is the chapter Zoo Man Murders, these were a group of particularly violent murders. Each of the four murder victims was a prostitutes whose body was hidden in the woods after substantial abuse. Dr. Bass takes the reader through the whole process, from finding the first body to the “Zoo Man’s” trials and sentencing.
The last case in the book starts off with the search for one man but ends with the group discovering a mass grave of over 330 bodies. This case is a giant project for Dr. Bass and his crew. This case Dr. Bass said was humbling because of the large amount of families that were getting closure; he thinks it is a “sacred gift” to give the loved ones the truth.
One of the other ongoing story that goes one throughout Dr. Bass’s narration of the the case stories is a more personal story of his life. He takes the reader through the tale of his first marriage and tells how hard it was on him to lose her to cancer. Later he shares how he met the woman who would become his second wife. He says that while losing his first wife was hard, losing Annette was even harder. Both of his wives lost their battles with cancer. He later marries again to a woman named Carol. He also ends the book with the story of his heart attack and how it affected his view on death. This is where the quotation at the beginning comes from. He says that one of the most common questions he gets asked by reporters is “When you die, will your body go to the Body Farm?” He then explains that during each period of his life he had a different answer. At the end he says that he’s going to leave it up to Carol and his sons.
Like I said in the first blog, one of the best parts of this book is appendixes. These allow the reader to look up any definition, body part, or bone in case it wasn’t entirely clear. Originally I thought that the audience for this book would be kind of general, but after the reading the second half I realized that this book does kind of take a bit of a strong stomach. Details that Dr. Bass uses are almost too descriptive, giving the reader a graphic view of all his cases. Despite this, I enjoyed this book and learned more than I think I have in any recreational reading book.