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

Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
16
Free sample

Bestselling author of Broken Ground “offers fascinating glimpses” into the real world of criminal forensics from its beginnings to the modern day (The Boston Globe).
 
The dead can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces, forensic scientists unlock the mysteries of the past and serve justice. In Forensics, international bestselling crime author Val McDermid guides readers through this field, drawing on interviews with top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and her own experiences on the scene.
 
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.
 
Prepare to travel to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites as McDermid comes into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, tracing the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.
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4.5
16 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
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Published on
Jul 7, 2015
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780802191052
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Forensic Medicine
Psychology / Forensic Psychology
True Crime / Forensics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Real crime scene investigation is vastly more complicated, arduous, bizarre, and fascinating than TV's streamlined versions. Most people who work actual investigations will tell you that the science never lies -- but people can. They may also contaminate evidence, or not know what to look for in crime scenes that typically are far more chaotic and confusing, whether inside or outside, than on TV.
Forensic experts will tell you that the most important person entering a scene is the very first responding officer – the chain of evidence starts with this officer and holds or breaks according to what gets stepped on, or over, collected or contaminated, looked past, or looked over, from every person who enters or interprets the scene, all the way through the crime lab and trial. And forensic experts will tell you the success of a case can depend on any one expert's knowledge of quirky things, such as:
"The Rule of the First Victim": (the first victim of a criminal usually lives near the criminal's home) Criminals' snacking habits at the scene"Nature's Evidence Technicians," the birds and rodents that hide bits of bone, jewelry, and fabric in their nestsThe botanical evidence found in criminals' pants cuffs Baseball caps as prime DNA repositoriesThe tales told by the application of physics to falling blood drops. Forensic experts talk about their expertise and their cases here. They also talk about themselves, their reactions to the horrors they witness, and their love of the work. For example, a DNA analyst talks about how she drives her family crazy by buccal-swabbing them all at Thanksgiving dinner. A latent print examiner talks about how he examines cubes of Jell-O at any buffet he goes to for tell-tale prints. A crime scene investigator gives his tips on clearing a scene of cops: he slaps "Bio-hazard" and "Cancer Causing Agent" stickers on his equipment. And an evidence technician talks about how hard it is to go to sleep after processing a scene, re-living what you've just witnessed, your mind going a hundred miles an hour.
This is a world that TV crime shows can't touch. Here are eighty experts – including beat cops, evidence technicians, detectives, forensic anthropologists, blood spatter experts, DNA analysts, latent print examiners, firearms experts, trace analysts, crime lab directors, and prosecution and defense attorneys – speaking in their own words about what they've seen and what they've learned to journalist Connie Fletcher, who has gotten cops to talk freely in her bestsellers What Cops Know, Pure Cop, and Breaking and Entering. Every Contact Leaves A Trace presents the science, the human drama, and even the black comedy of crime scene investigation.
Let the experts take you into their world. This is their book – their words, their knowledge, their stories. Through it all, one Sherlock Holmesian premise unites what they do and what it does to them: Every contact leaves a trace.
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