Book review | ‘The Breaking Point’ may just crack your schedule

Breaking Point.
Breaking Point. Courtesy image

When it comes to your job, you’re a crackerjack.

You have quite the reputation for doing your best, in fact, which is why colleagues come to you for help. Nobody busts a move like you: smooth, efficient and done right. Yep, when it comes to your job, you can’t be beat.

Except when you can. Except when everything points somewhere else and you’re ripped off track, as in the new novel “The Breaking Point” by Jefferson Bass.

Within the philanthropic world, Richard Janus was known for his speed.

When tragedy occurred anywhere in the world, before most governmental entities could even get organized, Janus was on the scene aboard his private jet filled with water, first aid and other supplies. Earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, it didn’t matter; Janus’ humanitarian efforts helped save lives.

It was therefore a shock to his supporters and donors when Janus lost his.

The fireball was, by all accounts, huge: that’s what happens when a Citation jet slams into the side of a mountain near San Diego at 400 miles an hour. There wasn’t much of Richard Janus left to identify, but the FBI needed the best forensic expert they could hire to try. They contacted Dr. Bill Brockton.

As a leader in forensic anthropology and the founder of the U of Tennessee’s Body Farm, Brockton was well-known for his expertise in identifying bodies and determining time of death. The Janus case, however – and Brockton hesitated to call it a “case,” since it seemed to have been an accident – would almost bust his chops.

Judging by a nearly full set of teeth found at the site, Janus had been killed by the crash; a second set of teeth momentarily sidelined the investigation, but were explained by a bizarre coincidence. Janus, during his nighttime flight, had apparently missed a mountain and died for his mistake. But then reports surfaced that Brockton had missed an important dental clue, and the media howled…

Brockton was used to that. Media loved their scandals, after all, but the onslaught in California and new allegations back home were almost unbearable – especially when another, more deadly bombshell entered his life.

Having read quite a number of the Body Farm novels, I have to say that I was surprised by “The Breaking Point.”

Authors Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass (who write together under this collective pseudonym) step back in time here to give fans a bit of history for their hero, Brockton, in a twist that takes a little getting used to but turns out to be rich in story. Not only is that a bonus for anyone who’s familiar with this smart, authentic (Bass was the creator of the real-life Body Farm) investigator, but it also makes this book a great place for new fans to start the series.

Bursting with red herrings and creepy bad guys (and a hint of the next book, perhaps?), this mystery-thriller is a whodunit lover’s dream. Be warned, though: start a novel like “The Breaking Point,” and it could crack your schedule.

At a glance

Title | “The Breaking Point”

Author | Jefferson Bass

Publisher | William Morrow

Length | 384 pages

Cost | $26.99