Cracking Cases

cracking cases henry leeCracking Cases: The Science of Solving Crimes by Dr. Henry C. Lee, with Thomas W. O’Neil, 3/5

Impeccably-credentialed forensic scientist Henry Lee uses five sensational cases to illustrate basics of forensic science and police procedure.  Each case is the subject of a detailed description that covers requisite back-stories, overview of the investigation, forensic analysis, descriptions of the trial and result.  At the conclusion of each case, Lee focuses in more detail on a specific aspect of forensic science relevant to the case, such as bloodstain pattern analysis, DNA analysis, time of death, and gun shot residue.

Two of this book’s strongest aspects are the author’s obvious expertise and ability to write about sensational material in an un-sensational manner.  This book did not feel mercenary in intent and did not leave me with the dirty feeling that much true-crime literature engenders.  Given that English is not his first language, writing idiosyncrasies are forgivable; but less forgivable is the dryness of the more technical sections, distracting asides, and the unsatisfactory number of photos and diagrams.  I think this FBI-affiliated review of the book provides a very good assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.

[Why I read it: This is a topic that interest me, partly because it puts in a new light the police-procedural TV shows I like to watch.  Browsing through the library, this book had me at “Woodchipper Murder Case.”]

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