cover image Dissecting Death: Secrets of a Medical Examiner

Dissecting Death: Secrets of a Medical Examiner

David L. Carroll, Frederick T. Zugibe, . . Broadway, $24.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-1879-4

While not a household name, Zugibe, who was chief medical examiner of Rockland County, N.Y., for 35 years, has the experience and credentials to write meaningfully about his field: he developed numerous new techniques for forensic pathology and presided over an amazing variety of investigations. In this readable account, the doctor presents 10 challenging cases he encountered, as well as his insights as a self-described Monday-morning quarterback on two of the most notorious crimes of the 1990s: the brutal slaying of JonBenét Ramsey and the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. As Zugibe's own work is intriguing enough, the inclusion of those sensations seems like a ploy to widen appeal, and the authors' decision to include a section on the scientific accuracy of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ may strike some as odd. The writing is sometimes flat, and the book would have had more depth and resonance had Zugibe presented instances where, despite his skills and instincts, he was led astray. Nonetheless, Zugibe's detections in the 1981 Brinks robbery case and his pro bono work in the case of a young journalist who disappeared in El Salvador make compelling reading for fans of insider accounts of forensics. (Aug.)