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.
In her novels, McDermid has been solving complex crimes and confronting unimaginable evil for years. Now, she's looking at the people who do it for real. It's a journey that will take her to war zones, fire scenes and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.
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.