Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death

By Jessica Snyder Sachs | Go to book overview

3 THE BONE DETECTIVES

... ah bone, is the pit of a man after the cumbering flesh has been eaten away.

—RICHARD SELZER, MORTAL LESSONS

NOTHING CURED BILL BASS'S headaches so quickly as a call about a corpse. Even after twenty years of identifying human remains, the anticipation of a new case brought instant relief from whatever budget shortfall or stack of exams had started his head pounding in the first place. For that matter, Bass didn't think to grumble at being roused from his bed in the predawn darkness on a cold and rain-whipped morning just before New Year's—by all rights the midpoint in a college professor's winter break.

When Bass accepted the University of Tennessee's invitation to create an anthropology department in 1971, word quickly spread that one of the nation's leading "bone men" was about to take up residence. The governor's office immediately enlisted him to be Tennessee's first state forensic anthropologist, on call twenty-four hours a day. Having honed his art on the sparsely populated prairie around the University of Kansas, Bass expected to deal with the occasional discovery of skeletal remains. He requisi

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Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue i
  • 1 - The Body Handlers 11
  • 2 - Reasonable Doubt 27
  • 3 - The Bone Detectives 47
  • 4 - The Witness Was a Maggot 69
  • 5 - Bug Sleuthing Crosses the Atlantic 93
  • 6 - A Model for Murder 119
  • 7 - The Dirty Dozen 147
  • 8 - Perfecting the Postmortem Clock 171
  • 9 - Plants, Pollen, and Perpetrators 197
  • 10 - The Pathologist's Garden 219
  • 11 - Chemical Clues 229
  • 12 - The New Mod Squad 247
  • Further Reading 259
  • Index 261
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