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The dead talk. To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died - and who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help justice to be done using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene or the faintest of human traces.

Forensics draws on interviews with top-level professionals, ground-breaking research and Val McDermid's own experience to lay bare the secrets of this fascinating science. And, along the way, she wonders at how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine 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 uncovered the victims of a genocide.


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

Ideal for the general reader - no special scientific knowledge needed

If you read modern crime fiction you will be well aware of forensic science being used as part of the plot - usually providing some great revelation which leads to the discovery of the perpetrator of the crime. I love this type of book and have read very many including most of those by Val McDermid. Regular readers of this type of fiction will be very aware that how forensics are used in books varies widely and it really isn't a good idea to base your knowledge of this subject on what you read in crime novels as often the author has to change things for the benefit of the plot or the pacing of the story.

This book is the answer to all your questions about what is true and what is not in forensic science. The author has taken all sorts of aspects of forensics and written a guide for the general but interested reader. She includes blood spatter, fingerprints, courtroom evidence, toxicology and crime scene analysis to name but a few. The book covers the background of this area of forensics, some notable cases in real life where it has been used and its limitations. It is all clearly and interestingly written and I found it fascinating.

This book is designed for non-scientists and never gets lost in the technical explanations. No area has a huge amount written on it so you might want to read in more depth if it interests you and there is a decent enough bibliography. The book has lots of pictures in it to illustrate the points and the paperback edition, which I was reading, has a picture of a fly on each page in a quirky manner and for no particular reason.

I learned a lot reading this book which I found fascinating - I shall be more aware now when crime writers are confusing their facts !

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