A VOICE FOR THE DEAD: A Forensic Investigator's Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave

Katherine M. Ramsland, Author, James E. Starrs, Author with Katherine Ramsland. Putnam $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-15225-2

With the CSI craze showing no sign of abating, there will doubtless be an eager audience for Starrs's intriguing but quirky accounts of the noteworthy and notorious exhumations he has participated in. Starrs, a pioneer in forensic science, recounts his dogged, almost obsessive involvement with seven historical mysteries, ranging from the assassination of Louisiana demagogue Huey Long to the Boston Strangler. Using clues from Dr. Carl Weiss's exhumed skeleton, Starrs makes a powerful case that the young doctor widely believed to have been Long's assassin was probably innocent. Starrs will also probably change the minds of many who have discounted challenges to the veracity of Albert DeSalvo's confession to the sex murders that plagued Boston in the 1960s. His narrative isn't for everyone—it's occasionally repetitive (he explains several times that remains with flesh still attached are "stinkies"), and it's filled with "humor" that many will find distasteful. Furthermore, despite his assertions of respect for the dead, he displays a cavalier attitude toward some bones he recovers, which are occasionally on the verge of being damaged in airplane overhead bins. These oddball aspects should not overshadow the significance of Starrs's accomplishments, but they easily might. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, John Silbersack with Trident Media Group. (Feb. 17)

Reviewed on: 01/31/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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