The dead talkto the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. "Forensics" draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.
Along the way, McDermid discovers how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine one s time of death; how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer; and how a team of young Argentine scientists led by a maverick American anthropologist were able to uncover the victims of a genocide. It s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-11
- Reviewer: Staff
In this gruesomely fascinating book, former journalist and renowned suspense novelist McDermid (The Skeleton Road) explains the science behind solving crimes. Based on interviews with crime scene investigators, such as a man who gathers maggots off dead bodies and a woman who analyzes blood spatter, McDermid recounts vivid case histories of violent crimes and details how they were solved using pathology, toxicology, anthropology, fingerprinting, facial reconstruction, and other forensic disciplines. Chapters on DNA technology and digital forensics highlight recent mind-stretching advancements in forensics, while other chapters discredit the theories set forth in the popular CSI television shows. The book is a mix of science and true crime accounts. The majority of the Scottish author’s sources are from the U.K., as are the case histories—including the infamous Stardust disco fire in England’s Derbyshire and the case of Colin Pitchfork, the first person in the U.K. to be convicted of double murder on the basis of DNA evidence. Fans of McDermid’s fiction will gain a greater understanding of where her ideas come from. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company (U.K.). (July)