Dr. Bill Brockton is a fictional character based on the knowledge of Dr. Bill Bass and the personality of Jon Jefferson. Some of the people in Dr. Brockton’s world share names with their real-life counterparts. For example, Dr. Arpad Vass of ORNL and Helen Taylor of East Tennessee Cremation Services are in the Body Farm novels as themselves.
Dr. Vass and Ms. Taylor were among the guests at Big Ed’s Pizza on Sunday. The Bone Zones team of Susan & Jim Seals and Mary Jo Tarvin organized the party to celebrate another successful Jefferson Bass promotion tour. Mary Jo wrote a clever poem using the names of twenty people they wanted to thank. Since I had helped out at the book-signing event for “The Bone Thief” in Oak Ridge, my family and I were invited. Big Ed’s was chosen as the location because the iconic pizza place is featured in “Bones of Betrayal.” Lew Tippie and David Neusel played host and posed with us in front of the huge portrait of the late Big Ed Neusel.
I was excited to meet Dr. Vass and to introduce him to my son. They started talking about the electronic sniffer Dr. Vass invented and the musical notes it plays when it finds a buried corpse. He offered to show it to us someday, assuming we can get security clearance for admission to the national lab.
Dr. Al Hazari of the chemistry department at the University of Tennessee was there too. He is mentioned in “Death’s Acre.” Next month he will record a public-service interview with me about his forensic chemistry summer camp for middle-schoolers.
I had to ask Dr. Bass and his wife Carol about the pineapple on their table. They said it was there as a joke because some characters order a pizza topped with pineapple in “Bones of Betrayal.” It’s not actually one of the choices offered on the notoriously simple Big Ed’s menu. I’m not sure I would have caught it if I had been proofreading that book.