Hidden Evidence: Forty True Crimes and How Forensic Science Helped to Solve Them

David Owen, Author, Thomas T. Noguchi, Foreword by, Kathy Reichs, Foreword by
David Owen, Author, Thomas T. Noguchi, Foreword by, Kathy Reichs, Foreword by Firefly Books $35 (240p) ISBN 978-1-55209-492-1
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-55209-483-9
Prebound-Other - 240 pages - 978-0-613-33909-4
Prebound-Sewn - 240 pages - 978-0-606-24619-4
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Once it took a thief to catch a thief; these days it more often takes forensic scientists--the experts who scrutinize fibers and fabrics, tire tracks and shoe prints, cell scrapings and bloodstains. Journalist and engineer Owen's first book shows how these scientists work and what they discover. Forensic geologists trace pebbles and soil; engineers examine aircraft panels and wreckage to find the cause of a crash. Forensic pathologists investigate corpses for their time and manner of death; chemists test hair and blood for DNA. Owen organizes his book by type of evidence, which sometimes corresponds to manner of death: drowning, hanging, poison, guns, and the identification of bodies each get chapters. Each case shows how the scientists work. Some concern famous victims (Czar Nicholas II) or notorious criminals (Josef Mengele); some date from the 19th century, while others show off advanced technology. Fingerprints are the oldest way to prove a person's presence at a crime scene. Another early tool, the comparison microscope, presented two magnified images side by side, making it easy to check if, for example, two bullets came from the same gun. Forensic scientists don't just catch criminals, we learn; they also save lives by preventing accidents. When a U.S.S. Iowa turret blew up in 1989, killing 47 sailors, the navy labeled the disaster sabotage; explosives experts discovered the real cause, a flaw in the guns' loading procedures, thus preventing repeats of the tragedy. More than 420 photos (many in color) enhance the text, and retired L.A. coroner Thomas Noguchi and mystery writer Kathy Reichs vouch for the book in two short introductions. (Sept.)
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