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Forensic Detective: How I Cracked the World's Toughest Cases Hardcover – Mar 28 2006

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (March 28 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345479416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345479419
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #418,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Readers who manage to put the hyperbolic and misleading subtitle aside will find this an enjoyable if unremarkable addition to the ceaseless, CSI-inspired forensic subgenre of true crime. Mann, deputy director of the federal Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, studied with masters of the field, including the legendary Body Farm founder, Bill Bass. The 20 chapters do a nice job of presenting the essence of forensic anthropology, although there is little that will be new to anyone who has read a similarly themed book (and Bass recently penned his own memoir, a better place for a newcomer to start). Mann's skill and dedication are unquestioned—he pieced together the smashed bones of one of the victims of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer—and his role in helping to identify soldiers' remains is admirable, but many of his case studies are similar, and a number end inconclusively (belying the book's title). The author might have done better to present fewer war stories, but to look at each in greater depth. (Mar. 28)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Mann, who got his Ph.D. in physical anthropology at age 51, came to forensics after a stint at a funeral home during college eventually led to study at the infamous Body Farm, "a school for the living taught by the dead," where he stands out among the crowd so much that the famed forensic anthropologist Bill Bass takes him on as an assistant. Mann's career has been filled with colorful and varied cases, ranging from figuring out whether a severed, mummified torso was that of a male or a female to identifying the remains of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's first victim, a young hitchhiker he picked up and beat to death. Not all cases get solved, at least not right away--a soldier's remains are discovered, analyzed, and identified 48 years after his disappearance, but a leg that is discovered in a natural pool in Oahu remains unidentified despite several clues. Armchair CSIs will enjoy this fascinating look at forensics in action. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I borrowed this book from a fellow with great anticipation. I dove into this book eager to learn about all the interesting things that a "Bone Doctor" might be able to pass along. Sadly, I was slightly disappointed in that a lot of the methods used to identify people through their bones was omitted. Instead, this book details places that Robert Mann has be sent to around the world with each chapter describing a different location and job. Little was mentioned about how bones are identified and the information that was offered was repeated over and over again from chapter to chapter. The book started out strong as it takes you through the start of Mr. Mann's career. The "Body Farm" was interesting to read about and Mr. Mann's work at the mortuary seemed colorful. Even the first case that Robert talks about in detail (Jeffery Dahlmer) was a good introduction to the book. Beyond these chapters I started to find the book redundant and had to force myself to finish it. It's not a bad book, however, I was hoping for something that might offer a little more insight into the technical side of a forensic detective's work - without being a text book of course. All in all, I would recommend this book to others but only if they are more interested in reading a biography rather than an in depth look into forensic detectives.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read many different books on the topic of forensic pathology, so I was looking forward to reading this one. I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up.

The book is written by Robert Mann ,a forensic anthropologist. Each chapter is dedicated to a different case that Mann worked on, and while some of the cases are interesting, many of them focus on the work Mann did to identify the remains of US soldiers. And this is why I did not like this book.

If I had wanted to read a book dedicated to the recovery of US soldier remains, I would have tracked down a book on that topic. What I wanted to read about was a variety of cases, covering a wide variety of topics. Topics dealing with everyday homicides, to freaky scary cases, to those one where you're left scratching your head in disbelief at how they determined who the killer was. This book definitely does not achieve that goal.

So. If you're looking for a book focusing on US military dead body recovery and identification, then this book's for you. If you're looking for a book focusing on a wide variety of forensic cases, then take a pass on this one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9c32ebf4) out of 5 stars 15 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cf3d480) out of 5 stars Quincy MD-Lite. Dec 1 2006
By James B. Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This isnt your huckleberry if you want to learn anything-much about death investigations. The author is skimpy about what it is he actually does or how he identifies people from their remains. This is a common problem in many books; the authors cant or wont reveal what it is they do. I suspect a lawyer was looking over his shoulder and breathing down his neck as he wrote the book. It has lawyer fingerprints and drool all over it.

It gets two stars because it's an interesting yarn. Too interesting. I'd leave out all the personal stuff about his hobo days and wanton youth. But he needed to fill the pages with something, because he says so little about what he actually does. So there are plenty of interesting digressions.

It's not a keeper, and in a year no one will remember it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c637a5c) out of 5 stars Just Because you Can, Doesn't Mean You Should March 10 2011
By William the Coroner - Published on
Format: Paperback
Because I not only am a practicing forensic pathologist, I also teach the subject. I am always looking for books on the subject. Forensic anthropology is not my area of expertise, and I've read the memoirs of many forensic anthropologists. The TV series "Bones" has stimulated a lot of interest in the field. Forensic Detective, How I Cracked the World's Toughest Cases will go a long way to killing interest in the field. I hat to stop reading it, because I was in too much pain, the book kept hitting me in the face as I fell asleep reading it. The chapter about how Dr. Mann got into the field was mildly interesting, and the bits about the politics of choosing the unknown soldier was also interesting. For the rest, I just couldn't finish the book. The material has been gone over before, and better, by other authors. Dr. Mann would have been helped by a better ghostwriter.

Bottom line, save your money.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c2c2234) out of 5 stars Finally someone got it right May 30 2006
By T. D. Holland - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Mann's Forensic Detective gives us the best view--to date--of the scope and complexity of forensic anthropology. Well written. Nice Job.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c315354) out of 5 stars Behind scenes Aug. 18 2007
By Dan Schobert - Published on
Format: Paperback
With the advent of CSI and similar TV programs, many of us have been drawn to the work of the 'crime labs..' even if Hollywoodized for common consumption. If nothing else, folks have come to see that there is much more to an investigation than what takes place in a sixty minute TV feature. Mann, in this work, takes us behind the scenes to more fully appreciate the work of 'bone doctors,' and other specialists as they seek to solve interesting cases.. some long after the fact of death. While other critics may not have appreciated Mann's early background, I found it fascinating to the extent which shows that persons, even later in life, can truly amount to something important.. even after they've tossed much of their life away on nonsense. This, hopefully, could encourage others to get back on track and do something important with their time on the planet. It is fair to say that this work won't go down as a long time classic but it should be read by anyone wishing to be more familiar with a work we so seldom appreciate.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c905948) out of 5 stars A Cross-section of the Life of a Forensic Anthropologist Dec 31 2006
By George Poirier - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There are many fascinating books for the general public on forensic anthropology. What makes this one different from those that I have read so far is that, in addition to descriptions of efforts towards resolving murder cases, it contains several stories about the identification of the remains of soldiers who have died in various military conflicts, e.g., both World Wars, Korea, etc. The author has also included some honest and open-hearted autobiographical information. The writing style is friendly and engaging. The book should be of interest to forensics buffs, but especially those with a penchant for forensic anthropology. I enjoyed this book and, as such, I have rated it as above average for this subject category, i.e., four stars; but I don't think that it quite has the gripping edge that would make it five star material, as some such books that I have read do.