Praise for The Science of Sherlock Holmes
"Holmes is, first, a great detective, but he has also proven to be a great scientist, whether dabbling with poisons, tobacco ash, or tire marks. Wagner explores this fascinating aspect of his career by showing how his investigations were grounded in the cutting-edge science of his day, especially the emerging field of forensics.... Utterly compelling."
—Otto Penzler, member of the Baker Street Irregulars and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop
"E. J. Wagner demonstrates that without the work of Sherlock Holmes and his contemporaries, the CSI teams would be twiddling their collective thumbs. Her accounts of Victorian crimes make Watson's tales pale! Highly recommended for students of the Master Detective."
—Leslie S. Klinger, Editor, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes
"In this thrilling book, E. J. Wagner has combined her considerable strengths in three disciplines to produce a work as compelling and blood-curdling as the best commercial fiction. This is CSI in foggy old London Town. Chilling, grim fun."
—John Westermann, author of Exit Wounds and Sweet Deal
"I am recommending this delightful work to all of my fellow forensic scientists.... Bravo, Ms. Wagner!"
—John Houde, author of Crime Lab: A Guide for Nonscientists
"A fabulously interesting read. The book traces the birth of the forensic sciences to the ingenuity of Sherlock Holmes. A wonderful blend of history, mystery, and whodunit."
—Andre Moenssens, Douglas Stripp Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Missouri at Kansas City, and coauthor of Scientific Evidence in Civil and Criminal Cases
Forensic expert Wagner has crafted a volume that stands out from the plethora of recent memoirs of contemporary scientific detectives. By using the immortal and well-known Sherlock Holmes stories as her starting point, Wagner blends familiar examples from Doyle's accounts into a history of the growth of forensic science, pointing out where fiction strayed from fact. The author avoids the technical details that mar so many other efforts in this genre, injecting life into her narrative by weaving in true crime cases that either influenced Holmes's creator or may have been influenced by a published story from the Baker Street sleuth. Particularly memorable is a creepy 1945 murder of a man who, as a youth, had had an encounter with a spectral dog reminiscent of the hound of the Baskervilles. While some of the speculations are thin (including a passing suggestion about a new Ripper suspect), Wagner presents a balanced view of the history of forensic science that should appeal to a wide audience.