The Bookworm Sez: 'Without Mercy' will get your heart pounding

The Bookworm Sez: ‘Without Mercy’ will get your heart pounding

You ran into someone from your past the other day.

He didn’t recognize you, but you remembered him: same hair, same walk, same irksome laugh and swagger. He breezed right past you and you didn’t say a word, preferring to keep everything behind you. As in the new novel, “Without Mercy” by Bill Bass (c.2016, Wm. Morrow, $26.99, 345 pages), if only it could stay that way.

The boxes of bones pressed upon him.

Dr. Bill Brockton knew that he’d have to get to them sooner, rather than later. Once he was finished studying them, though, he wasn’t sure what to do with the remains of a long-decimated tribe of Native Americans; the government had laws, but no provisions for that kind of thing.

The bones whispered to him, but Brockton had other issues on his mind – for one, his research assistant, Miranda, was nearly done with her dissertation and would be leaving soon. That would leave a hole in Brockton ’s department. Then there was the body up in Cooke County, and the way the victim died gave Brockton the chills.

With a fifty-pound logging chain, the naked man had been attached by the neck to a tree in the woods. Someone fed him and kept him alive long enough to make him miserable – and then the killer smeared bear bait and raw bacon on the victim, set a camera in the branches, and left him to die.

It had been a horrible way to go. Brockton knew what criminals were capable of doing, but this murder left him with nightmares and too many questions. It reminded him of how his family had once been targets of serial killer Nick Satterfield, who likewise had a sadistic nasty streak.

But Satterfield was in a max-security prison now, some of Brockton’s Tennessee Bureau of Investigation colleagues were helping Brockton identify the victim of a murder that might’ve been racially motivated, and there was a pile of Native American bones to study. Brockton didn’t have time to overthink – until Satterfield escaped from prison, and he couldn’t think about anything else…

In “Without Mercy,” the tenth installment of the Body Farm series, there are some notable surprises that may rattle fans of Dr. Brockton.

First, Brockton is aging: authors Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson give him a lot more aches and insomnia than he’s had in the past, and he seems more impatient than ever. He’s not as self-assured as he was in previous books, either, and he’s increasingly introspective.

Most alarming: Brockton is bothered by a crime that he might’ve been more detached from before.

That may be because this book is more gruesome than all the other books with Brockton as character. There’s more blood and (literally) more guts in this novel, and the thrills have ratcheted up to triple-digits.

Don’t take this book to bed with you; that’s all I’m sayin’. But if you do, well, good luck sleeping tonight. Your heart will pound, your pulse will race, you’ll see blood behind your eyelids, as “Without Mercy” is a book you’ll run through.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at

More in Life

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Once bitten

Just keep moving. For some people, it might be a mantra for… Continue reading

Joan Brown Dodd, left, and Doug Dodd pose for a photo at the Homer News on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Hero Unaware’ based on author’s compilation of father’s war correspondence.

Letters home span the entire length of World War II from a Navy corpsman’s perspective.

Mindful ramen. (Photo by Tressa Dale/For the Clarion)
Take guilt off menu with mindful ramen

I do a lot of preaching about healthy eating, but I have… Continue reading

Bonnie Marie Playle (file)
July Musings

July is the seventh month, and is called “Dog Days” because it’s… Continue reading

2007 photo by Clark Fair 
Sometimes called “Murder House” in the years after the killing, this dilapidated Quonset hut was the scene of the crime.
A killing close to home

By Clark Fair For the Peninsula Clarion We all hope we live… Continue reading

The stage for "Grounded" is seen inside of the Kenai Performers’ black box theatre on Monday, March 15 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Presenting Little Mermaid

Kenai Performers youth drama camp takes center stage

This rich Parmesan risotto makes a creamy base for mushrooms and kale. Photographed July 10, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Kale salad? Not so much

A cream risotto makes an indulgent base for the nutritional green

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: The generations … my how they flow by

It has been over 20 years since we had a 1-year-old in the house for any extended period of time.

This orange Julius swaps out the traditional egg whites with sweetened condensed milk, for a tangy and safe summer treat. Photographed July 4, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Adding some orange to the red, white and blue

A quintessentially American drink cools off any Fourth of July celebration.

Nick Varney (courtesy)
Flying fish and lead. Oh my!

Homer can become rather rowdy at times.

Pottery is on display on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at the Kenai Art Center, which is reopening on Thursday for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘The more we get together’

Kenai Art Center celebrates reopening with work from Potters’ Guild

Containing onions, carrots, shitake mushrooms and noodles Japchae is a stir-fried Korean vegetable and noodle dish that is delectable hot, cold and everywhere in between. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Noodles made with a loving hand

Japchae is a stir-fried Korean vegetable and noodle dish that is delectable hot, cold and everywhere in between