Excerpt from Body Brokers by Annie Cheney, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Body Brokers

Inside America's Underground Trade in Human Remains

by Annie Cheney

Body Brokers by Annie Cheney
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2007, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Numerous diener thefts have been discovered over the years, from Maine to Los Angeles. Nearly all of these cases were uncovered purely by chance. Often the families of the dead noticed something odd on an autopsy report. Only later did they learn that parts of their family member's body had disappeared owing to an intricate deception.

If an autopsy isn't ordered, someone at the hospital calls the funeral home of the family's choice. A driver comes to pick the body up and take it to the funeral home. There, the body is refrigerated until the time comes for what's known in the funeral trade as "final disposition." If the body is to be cremated, it may be sent to another funeral home equipped with a crematorium or to a crematorium at a nearby cemetery. Here, once again, a stranger, who often has little training or supervision, assumes control of the body. If the crematorium operator is so inclined or is familiar with the market, he may be tempted to remove a body part before sliding the cadaver into an oven. Once a body is cremated, there's no way to know if anything is missing.

If the body is to be embalmed, the procedure takes place at a funeral home. But there too, a corpse may not be safe. The funeral home may have an agreement with a tissue bank. Each body may produce a tidy kickback, a thousand dollars, perhaps. Or, more disturbing, the funeral director may own his own tissue bank, earning thousands of dollars selling the parts of each corpse entrusted to his care. He might not bother to ask permission.

Relatives rarely have the opportunity–or the inclination–to accompany their deceased loved ones into the realm of hospital morgues and funeral homes. They sit by their bedsides while they are alive, clutching at any sign of life. But once death comes, they are quick to release them into a world, which, for many, is a kind of wilderness. And there, as in the wild, vultures are drawn to the dead.


Chapter 2

An Ideal Situation

In 2001, Michael Brown had a thriving cremation business in Lake Elsinore, California, a pleasant suburban town seventy miles southeast of Los Angeles. He had five admiring employees, a beautiful wife, and two sons. Brown, who was in his early forties, was a loving and supportive father. On most weekends, he could be found racing dirt bikes with his older son and attending the boys' ice hockey games. Brown took both boys camping in the Nevada wilderness. He Jet Skied with them on the town lake, played golf with them, and taught them how to fly radio airplanes. Brown beamed when he spoke of his children. "Those kids are my heart and soul," he said.

Brown wasn't a devout Christian, although he displayed in his spare office a Bible engraved with his name. Sometimes he even quoted Matthew 7:3 – "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"

The California state crematorium inspector, Dan Redmond, saw this same humble philosophy in Brown's work and was impressed by it. "You can honestly tell when these guys are just in the business to make an extra buck, and Mike was not like that," Redmond said. Redmond noticed that when Brown talked to grieving families, he listened, counseled, and was careful to avoid any sales talk or to push a fancy coffin. If a family couldn't afford a funeral, Brown offered to cut his rates or provide a service free of charge.

Excerpted from Body Brokers by Annie Cheney Copyright © 2006 by Annie Cheney. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Force
    The Force
    by Don Winslow
    Intense! That's the word. Winslow's The Force rips through its four hundred pages with the...
  • Book Jacket: Shadow Man
    Shadow Man
    by Alan Drew
    Alan Drew's debut novel, Gardens of Water, was an ambitious work of literary fiction set amid ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Noise of Time
    by Julian Barnes
    Confession: I do two terrible – some say unforgivable – things while reading a book. First...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    A powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.