Cause of Death – The Story of Forensic Science by Frank Smyth (Book Review)

“Whatever the value to society of the advances in forensic science and, in particular, forensic medicine, it has provided me with a life of infinite variety of human interest.”  ~ Sir Sydney Smith, Mostly Murder from Chapter One of Cause of Death – The Story of Forensic Science by Frank Smyth.

From the earliest pages of this book, I learned something new. As a follower of mysteries – psychological thrillers, cozy stories, and hard-boiled detective stories – I discovered one of my favorite authors had coined the term “detective.” Can you guess who it was?

If you guessed Charles Dickens, you’re correct! According to Cause of Death, Poe’s Dupin was an amateur detective, but it was the Dickensian detective of Bleak House who was characterized as an official working with the police to solve a crime.

As an avid reader of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Kathy Reichs, and Iris Johanssen to name a few, I’ve become fascinated with forensic science. Binge watching Bones and trying to follow Holmes’ problem-solving skills of observation drew me toward this book, and when I found it at a library book sale, I knew I had to have it. For someone who’s interested in someday writing their own psychological thriller or murder mystery, I thought Cause of Death – The Story of Forensic Science would make a great resource. And it did!

What I didn’t expect was for it change the way I even watch crime dramas and police procedurals. I’ll find myself nodding in agreement, “yes, that’s how that piece of evidence should be handled.” Or shaking my head, “No, don’t do that! It won’t be permitted in court to count as evidence.” It is certainly an interesting exercise.

As you read and take a deeper dive into the story, you will learn the history of forensic science and what cases led to mug shots, DNA testing, fingerprinting, coroners, and even how the modern day police force came to be.

Nonfiction isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I could not put this book down. If you love crime fiction, thrillers, and murder mysteries, I’d definitely recommend this book for your shelf. One of the best things I’ve discovered about it is there is so much information, you can use it as a jumping off point to write your own story. I know will.

If you’ve read this book or would be interested in writing a guest post, please drop me a line or leave a note in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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Break a Pencil!

© Lisa Street Rogers 2018

 

 

 

 

 

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