LAW & ORDER: Crime Scenes

Dick Wolf, Author, Jessica Burstein, Photographer , photos by Jessica Burstein. Barnes & Noble Books $30 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4027-1092-6

Considering Law & Order's popularity—over 88 million viewers watch it and its spinoffs and reruns each week—the dearth of books about the show is fairly surprising. This literary tribute, divided neatly into three sections, is more than a fetishist's bedside companion. Wolf, the show's creator, offers a brisk introduction, setting the tone with some revealing background tidbits (e.g., Wolf and his colleagues chose a bifurcated format for the show so it could be syndicated as either a half-hour or full-hour show). "Anatomy of a Crime Scene," by far the most revealing section, takes a 2002 episode, "Oxymoron," and explains how it came together, bit by bit. Wolf gives everyone—e.g., the police technical consultant, the executive producer, the actor playing a corpse (she was paid $161 for the day's work)—a few crisp, concise paragraphs to explain their contributions. The "Scenes of the Crime" portion shares photos of the central crime scenes (taken by Burstein, the show's still photographer). While some of the images are too obviously composed, most are impossible to distinguish from real crime scene shots. The book's final section, "In the Criminal Justice System," which gives a loving overview of the show's major players (including Paul Sorvino, Angie Harmon and Jerry Orbach), is, while good enough, probably for serious fans only, as casual readers may not be as interested in learning, for example, why the character Detective Sergeant Phil Cerreta is a snappy dresser. Altogether, this is a simple, classy and authoritative gift book. B&w photos. (Nov. 3)

Forecast: Given the large number of people who watch Law & Order, this volume should find a ready audience and will undoubtedly be a popular holiday present.

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 160 pages - 978-0-7607-4103-0
DVD-Video - 978-1-4170-5089-5
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Hardcover - 176 pages - 978-0-7434-8315-5
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DVD-Video - 978-1-4170-7439-6
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