cover image Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection

Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection

Joe Nickell. University Press of Kentucky, $25 (300pp) ISBN 978-0-8131-2091-1

Nickell (Pen, Ink and Evidence) and Fischer provide a comprehensive primer of forensic investigation for the uninitiated. After an introductory chapter details the proper protocol for securing a crime scene, nine chapters focus on different forms of evidence. Although the writing is uninspired, a great deal of basic information is presented. Each chapter ends with a well-known case study in which the techniques discussed played a significant role. The relatively brief case studies are the most interesting portion of the book and demonstrate the range of evidence with which investigators must deal. A conviction was secured in the Lindbergh kidnapping by matching marks on a homemade ladder left at the crime scene with a carpenter's plane in Bruno Hauptmann's garage; a detailed fiber analysis led police to conclude that Wayne Williams was responsible for the deaths of 30 black men in Atlanta. Also discussed are firearms in the Sacco and Vanzetti case, toxicology in the investigation into Marilyn Monroe's suicide, DNA ""fingerprinting"" in the O.J. Simpson case and anthropological techniques in an examination of the deaths of Russia's last czar and his family. Some technical material, like how a bullet's entry hole might be smaller than the bullet making the hole, is glossed over, but there's enough here to satisfy most inquisitive readers. 65 b&w illustrations. (Dec.)