cover image DEAD RECKONING: The New Science of Catching Killers

DEAD RECKONING: The New Science of Catching Killers

Michael Baden, . . Simon & Schuster, $25 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-684-86758-8

Baden, a leading forensic pathologist and host of HBO's Autopsy, and Roach (Another Name for Madness) are a dynamic pair, delving into delightfully creepy material that can potentially bring murderers to justice or free an innocent on death row. Baden is a methodical and ethical medical examiner and consummate scientist. Every page reveals another aspect of the forensic sciences, leading the reader into the Cimmerian world of autopsies, murder scenes, blood-splatter analysis, the life cycles of blowflies in carrion, DNA fingerprinting and the methods for identifying unknown victims by their skulls, teeth and bones. The authors also touch upon the obscure yet fruitful fields of forensic botany and climatology. The material is exhaustive, yet the journey is never less than fascinating. For the reader (with a strong stomach) interested in the juncture of crime, law and science, this book is chock-full of practical information about death by unnatural means. The account is replete with a cast of weird, amiable characters, historical insights (where else this year will readers learn that Paul Revere took the first step in forensic odontology?), and reverence for the scientific study of the dead. Baden and Roach invite the outsider into the laboratory with a gripping sense of immediacy, and conversely, they bring the usually hidden forensic sciences into the light of day. (Sept.)