According to the Evidence (Richard Pryor Mysteries) is a novel about forensic scientists in the mid 1950's in Britain. Richard Pryor, pathologist, and Angela Bray, forensic biologist, had set up (with the help of a female lab assistant and part-time housekeeper) a practice together on the Welsh border in the previous and first book, Where Death Delights (A Richard Pryor Mystery) (which I have not yet read). They continue to gain clients in this sequel.
Back then, no laptops, no email, no cell phones, and so vital research info had to travel by wire (very expensive for lengthy materials), regular post, and and special messengers. Copy machines were just coming into use, but mostly carbon paper was still the norm. It's back in a time when DNA testing was still beyond human capabilities, but blood testing for paternity and criminal elimination could be done. The elaborate, quite definite tests we see on CSI had not yet been invented, so Richard and Angela must rely on more basic tests when they work their cases, and more on research than on technology.
In this novel, the duo deals with three main investigations: a farm machine mechanic who is found squashed in his shop; a soldier whose training death might not be accidental; and a pharmacist who is in danger of the hangman's noose for allegedly killing his already terminally-ill wife. Although WHERE DEATH DELIGHTS was touted for its "great plot twists," I don't think the same really applies to ACCORDING TO THE EVIDENCE. There aren't any huge surprises, and one of the plots pretty much resolved itself rather than be solved by Richard or Angela. Furthermore, some characters are introduced, but then fade away without being fully utilized, in my opinion.
The charm of this book lies more in the re-creation of 1955 and the state of forensic science round about then (author Bernard Knight, himself a retired Home Office pathologist, explains in his concluding note that for story purposes he anticipated some research that was actually done a little later). And there is the interplay of the firm's characters and Knight carefully advances little glimmers of possible romantic links. After all, when a man is surrounded by three women of various ages -- all younger than himself -- it is pretty inevitable that something more than professional interactions will develop...probably flowering in future additions to this series. Perhaps we will also see Richard's newly-bought and planted grape vines flower then too.
In general, ACCORDING TO THE EVIDENCE is a forensic detection novel that isn't exceptional but is worth reading and enjoying, especially for those who intrigued by how it (forensics) used to be done.