Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: The Inquisitor's Key by Jefferson Bass

The Inquisitor's Key (Body Farm #7)
by Jefferson Bass
Release Date: May 8th 2012
2012 William Morrow
Hard Copy Edition; 353 Pages
ISBN: 978-0061806797
ASIN: B0068M2K5M
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

The Inquisitor’s Key takes forensic investigator Dr. Bill Brockton to Avignon, France, and embroils him in a deadly religious mystery that could shake the Vatican itself to its very foundations.  

My Thoughts
Imagine my surprise when I received a large package of books from the publisher of older books asking me if I'd be willing to take a look at them and review them.  Included was the four newest Jefferson Bass books, books I haven't actually read in a long time, so I was intrigued as I remembered really enjoying the Body Farm books.  And while The Inquisitor's Key was an easy read and quite fun, it didn't quite live up to its predecessors.

What I had really enjoyed about the previous Body Farm novels was the uniqueness of the stories, and to be honest, while this was a fun romp, it wasn't really unique.  I like the historical lessons through Avignon's past as I'm a history buff and teach history, but what I've always loved about these novels is the forensic stuff, so fascinating.  There wasn't a lot of that going on in this novel. The central mystery involves a set of bones discovered in an ossuary and whether or not those bones belong to Jesus, something that would be quite controversial.  It also deal with the lengths to which people, both in the modern and fourteenth centuries, would go to cover up truths or perpetuate lies all in the name of the Catholic Church.  And in the name of money.  

To be honest, the biggest problem I had with this book is that it's not overly interesting and I lost interest about halfway through.  The chapters alternate between past and present, and while I usually look forward to the historical stuff, I was more interested in reading about the descriptions of the buildings and the city that I was in the story, which is quite telling.  I didn't really empathize with any of the historical figures which is quite unusual for me.  One of the things I did find interesting was the information about the Shroud of Turin, especially as one of the specialists used in the book is actually read and you can find her articles online, something I did look up to get more information.  I have never really been interested in the Shroud but I did find the facts quite interesting.  

There is one aspect of the story though, which just drives me nuts and that has to do with Dr. Bill's obsessive infatuation with Miranda and his weird jealousy whenever she shows an interest in anyone else.  His possessiveness towards her just made me want to shake him, especially since she's half his age and is one of his assistants and students.  Wrong on so many levels.  I thought with the introduction of Plutarch and his unrequited love towards Laura that we might see some resolution to this, but to no avail and it seemed like a plot point that really went nowhere and made poor Laura seem like she had something wrong while Plutarch looked like a hero. Today, his actions would be called stalking.  

The Inquisitor's Key is one of those books that is meant to read just for fun, although I think it was intended to be a type of controversial religious book that was so popular a few years ago, but failed in its intention.  Overall, the premise was okay, and there was some attempt to make it interesting with parallel story lines, but lackluster storytelling and character development didn't help.  I also felt like some things were conveniently written off without explanations, like the story line about Isabella, as it made me feel like I was missing something big.  I normally enjoy these books, and with the next three books in the series, I am not giving up on Dr. Bill.  I sincerely hope they are more like the usual fare and not quite like this one. 


  1. I don't think I'm familiar with the writer.

    1. Jefferson Bass is actually a combo team of writers. Jon Jefferson is the writer, and Dr. Bill Bass is a forensic anthropologist. I've always found collaborations like this kinds of intriguing.