Books I didn’t finish:
The Last Season by Eric Blehm (335 pgs/read 60) 2006
Well written chronicle of an experienced back-country ranger who goes missing. Blehm aptly captures both the Sequoia/Kings Canyon country and the ranger Jim Morgenson to the point that you feel you’ve know both for years.
Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson 2007 (282 pgs/read 135)
A second case study book from one of my personal heroes. Bill Bass pioneered post-mortem decomposition analysis when he founded the Forensic Anthropology Research Center or “Body Farm” at the University of Tennesee in 1971. Not quite as riveting as the first book, Bass seems to be reaching deeper into his historical grab-bag than previously. There are still some interesting cases, and Bass’s personable, down-home tone is always enjoyable.
Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand 2006 (240 pgs/read 2 stories)
It’s the rare writer who can use “chiaroscuro” in a sentence (twice!) and not come off pretentious. Hand is an apt and enjoyable author and her $50 words never distract from the narrative, but seem to fit with an almost unnoticeable ease. And “strange stories” is right. The writing is intense, compelling and vaguely unsettling- like trying to meditate while caffeine-jittery to the point of nausea.