Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Forensics

What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime

by Val McDermid

Internationally bestselling crime writer Val McDermid picks up the scalpel to uncover the secrets of forensic science, from the crime scene to the courtroom.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date May 10, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2515-6
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date July 07, 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2391-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date July 07, 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9105-2
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

Val McDermid is one of the finest crime writers we have, whose novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide with their riveting narratives of complex crimes and unimaginable evil. In the course of researching her bestselling novels, McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real world murders, and the people who must solve them.

The dead talk—to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics goes behind the scenes with some of these top-level professionals and their groundbreaking research, drawing on Val McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.

Along the way, McDermid discovers how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine one’s time of death; how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer; and how a team of young Argentine scientists led by a maverick American anthropologist were able to uncover the victims of a genocide. It’s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.

Praise

“McDermid’s entertaining foray into nonfiction . . . offers fascinating glimpses into the grisly crime-scene investigation arena . . . McDermid brings the same pleasurable, scrupulous attention to detail and highly visual descriptions to Forensics as she does to her fiction.” —Boston Globe

“Fascinating . . . A gripping history of the anatomy of crime. Each of the chapters—which examine themes such as fire scene investigation, toxicology, fingerprinting, DNA and blood splatter and facial reconstruction—contains a wealth of surprising information. . . . If McDermid is ever stuck for inspiration for her novels she could do worse than turn to her own book of the dead for inspiration.” —The Independent (UK)

“An energetic, eye-opening work of reporting by the distinguished Scottish crime novelist Val McDermid . . . Real-world forensics is no less fascinating than fiction—and perhaps just the opposite . . . McDermid, a former newspaper journalist and bureau chief, has her reporter hat on this time. The result is clear-eyed, vigorous, unpretentious and mesmerizing . . . Thanks to McDermid’s resolute curiosity, every page of Forensics has astonishing stuff.” —The Seattle Times

“McDermid examines the creativity of forensic experts through the analytic techniques they apply to real-life crime . . . McDermid has not lost her early journalistic genius for telling a good story plainly and with passion.” —Times Saturday Review (UK)

“Fascinating . . . Val McDermid is one of the most skilled of crime writers and she has gone a step beyond killing by writing with crisp authority on the facts that lie behind gruesome events.” —The Washington Times

“[McDermid] burrows into the wild history of forensics, interviewing top scientists and culling from innovative research to explain practices like using maggots to calculate time of death.” —Entertainment Weekly (“Brainy & Brilliant Beach Books”)

“Our fascination with crime has spawned libraries of books and years of TV programming. Val McDermid is a major player in the genre . . . She has now written a guide to criminal forensics that is every bit as compelling as the best of the fictional genre. She combines science with the macabre, from the Great Fire of London to some of the most sensational trials of recent times.” —The Irish Times

“In charting the ‘astonishing leaps’ that forensic science has made over the past two centuries, McDermid provides a grimly absorbing account of crime and its detection.” —The Observer (UK)

“[McDermid] approaches the grisly realities of crime scenes and corpses with a neophyte’s sense of wonder . . . A satisfying insider’s excursion into the scientific realities behind CSI-style pop culture.” —Kirkus Reviews

“McDermid’s deep dives into history and science add substance. She does a commendable job of explaining some timely issues, such as the use of mega-data in digital forensics and the latest controversies about forensic DNA . . . An enjoyable read . . . It will certainly please readers of McDermid’s novels, who will want to have her take on the subject.” —The Washington Post

“Gruesomely fascinating . . . Fans of McDermid’s fiction will gain a greater understanding of where her ideas come from.” —Publishers Weekly

“McDermid would make a good doctor, managing to be clinically precise but engaging at the same time. . . . Drawing on interrogative skills learned from her first career as a journalist, the result is a highly readable, eye-opening account of the way in which criminals have slowly had their wings clipped and their getaways thwarted over the past hundred and more years.” —The Herald (Scotland)