Most helpful critical review
Not As Interesting as You Might Expect
on May 21, 2002
I snatched this book off our New Books cart at the library, certain that I would be staying up all night ripping through riveting text similiar to the writing in the book "Dead Men Do Tell Tales" by William Maples.
However, I was disappointed.
The book starts out in a promising manner with the description of an unexplained death and the beginning of an autopsy. The mystery of what goes on in an autopsy room is explored, and some interesting tidbits of information about hospitals and law enforcment officers are tossed out to the reader.
However, the book soon slides into a confused and jumbled collection of segues about the main author's early life, laboriously detailed descriptions of the classes forensic experts take, too-precious inside jokes, half-baked and unsatisfying attempts at summarizing the history of forensic science, and chapters based on themes that sound good ("Bugs") but are somehow rendered tedious by the syllabus-like writing style and the lack of a connecting narrative.
The main author could not resist dragging in a yawn-inducing discussion of the O.J. Simpson evidence scandal. He also spends an inordinate amount of time yapping on and on about a boring Russian murder case from the early part of the twentieth century that, for some reason, commands great interest in his family but is as dull as a butter knife to the reader.
When we finally find out what happened to the murder victim who was introduced like bait at the beginning of this strange and awkward book, we don't care. The authors make no real attempt to humanize the victim, who was killed by his lover, and actually make the murder victim an unsympathetic character by detailing the handful of Viagra pills found in his pocket, his HIV-positive status, his unemployment, and by not describing what drew this unfortunate man to a lover who would kill him during a sex act.
The authors need to go back to writing school and hope to get Ann Rule for their teacher.
If you want to spend your evening courting a dull headache reading about autopsies and forensic science told NPR/Internet message board style, this is the book for you. If you want a really good, fascinating book about forensic science, pick up "Dead Men Do Tell Tales" ... or just about anything else.