Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid

Publisher:    Grove Press
Published:   July 7, 2015
ISBN:     978-0802123916
Genre:    Non-fiction  
Format:  Ebook   
Obtained via:  Publisher via Edelweiss
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Somehow I have missed reading any of Val McDermid’s fictions, but after reading her Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell us About Crime I am going to start working me way through her back list.  If they are half as good as Forensics I’ll be one happy reader.

I was immediately interested when I saw Forensics offered up for review.  Despite the title and blurb I was expecting a decent summation of the techniques the police use along with how they interface with other agencies.  There is that – the first chapter deals with the killing of a British police officer and how the crime scene techs tracked the evidence and how the killer was brought to justice. 

McDermid goes beyond my expectations with chapters on fire investigation, entomology, pathology, toxicology, fingerprinting, blood spatter and DNA, anthropology, facial reconstruction and of particular interest to me, forensic psychology.  Forensics is not a dry non-fiction where the author produces a series of paragraphs that describe the investigative topic and moves on.  Rather McDermid treats readers to a wonderful combination of the historical background for each of the sciences, modern techniques and how today’s techniques would have impacted and/or interfaced with the historical methods.  She includes real crimes and how the investigators at the time they were committed solved…or attempted to solve them along with current or modern day events.  She presents failures of the criminal justice system along with the successes and information on why mistakes were made.  The leaders of each investigative area are introduced through their most notable crimes.

Forensics:  What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell us About is not a quick read because of the complexity of each different subject yet each is presented in an easily readable and understandable manner.  I venture to say there is something for everyone in the book—whether you are a fan of today’s TV crime solving shows or historical reading such as Conan Doyle or a writer, something will catch your attention.  Taking it a step further, it is a “must have” for anyone writing romantic suspense, thrillers, mysteries or cozy mysteries.  It is an interesting read and a well written text book on crime solving. 

This is an objective review and an endorsement of this book.

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