Miranda Lovelady, Dr Bill Brockton's protégé, is spending the summer helping excavate a newly discovered chamber beneath the spectacular Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France. There she discovers a stone chest inscribed with a stunning claim: inside lie the bones of none other than Jesus of Nazareth. Faced with the case of the millennium, Miranda summons Brockton for help proving or refuting the claim. Both scientists are sceptical - after all, fake relics abounded during the Middle Ages - but the evidence for authenticity soon grows. Brockton and Miranda link the bones to the haunting image on the Shroud of Turin, revered by millions as the burial cloth of Christ and a laboratory test finds that the bones are 2,000 years old. The finding triggers a deadly tug of war between the anthropologists, the Vatican and a deadly zealot who hopes to use the bones to bring about the Second Coming . . . and trigger the end of time.
In the summer of 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and Tennessee Senator Albert Gore begin their long-shot campaign to win the White House. In the sweltering hills of Knoxville at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Bill Brockton, the bright, ambitious young head of the Anthropology Department, launches an unusual—some would call it macabre—research facility, unlike any other in existence.
Brockton is determined to revolutionize the study of forensics to help law enforcement better solve crime. But his plans are derailed by a chilling murder that leaves the scientist reeling from a sense of déjà vu. Followed by another. And then another: bodies that bear eerie resemblances to cases from Brockton’s past.
But as the body count rises, the victims’ fatal injuries grow more and more distinctive—a spiral of death that holds dark implications for Brockton...and everyone he holds dear.
It’s been ten years since Dr. Bill Brockton created the Body Farm—the world’s first postmortem research facility dedicated to advancing the frontiers of forensic science—and the researcher is at the pinnacle of his career. Under his leadership, the University of Tennessee’s forensic anthropology program has become the most prominent in the world, and Brockton’s skills and knowledge are in high demand among top law enforcement. Calling him in for a number of high profile cases, the FBI now wants him to identify the charred remains of a maverick millionaire, killed in a fiery plane crash.
But a storm is about to hit Brockton with cataclysmic force. First, his identification of the crash victim is called into question. Then he receives a threatening message from the serial killer who attempted to murder the scientist and his family a decade ago. And from Brockton’s beloved wife Kathleen—his lodestone and his source of security—he gets the most shocking news of all. Will Brockton be able to weather this deluge . . . or has he finally reached the breaking point?
Accused of a horrific crime—transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah—Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that's tightening around him . . . and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence.
Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton has spent twenty-five years solving brutal murders—but none so bizarre and merciless as his latest case: A ravaged set of skeletal remains is found chained to a tree on a remote mountainside. As Brockton and his assistant Miranda dig deeper, they uncover warning signs of a deadly eruption of hatred and violence.
But the shocking case is only the beginning of Brockton’s trials. Mid-case, the unthinkable happens: The deadliest criminal Brockton has ever foiled—the sadistic serial killer Nick Satterfield—escapes from prison, bent on vengeance.
But simply killing Brockton isn’t enough. Satterfield wants to make him suffer first, by destroying everything he holds dear: Brockton’s son, daughter-in-law, grandsons; even Miranda, his longtime graduate assistant, now on the verge of completing her Ph.D. and launching a forensic career of her own.
The dangers from all directions force Brockton to question two things on which he’s based his entire career—the justice system, and the quality of mercy—and to wonder: can the two co-exist?
If not, which will Brockton choose in his ultimate moment of truth?