The Forensic Casebook
Ngaire E. Genge
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buy *The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation* online The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation
Ngaire Genge
Ballantine Books
319 pages
August 2002
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The Forensic Casebook is a handy guidebook dealing with the basics of crime scene investigations. Whether you are aspiring to a career in law enforcement, a budding mystery novelist, or just a fan of the mystery/true crime genre, this book will prove a very interesting addition to your reference shelf.

Curled Up With a Good BookGenge interviewed hundreds of police officers and others in the forensics field while writing this book, and it is full of quotes, scenarios and background, reflecting her intense research. Although it is quite general - and rightfully so, for it is intended as an overview - there is still a lot of ground covered here. All aspects of crime scene investigation are covered, from the very basic ("...assume the scene is unsecured and dangerous until proven otherwise.") to more advanced analyses of blood spatter patterns, ballistics and even forensic entomology. Along the way, Genge debunks a few myths:

"My personal favorite television detective is the rumpled Columbo, always quick to whip out his equally rumpled handkerchief in an effort to keep his prints off candlesticks, ashtrays, wine bottles, or, in "Grand Deception," a two-foot-long black metal flashlight with a highly polished surface! Not only did he grab the light with that grungy hankie - wiping it as clean as any crook would have done - he chose to hold it by the handle, the very spot where his poor lab technician would first look for prints."
The tone of the book is as light as possible, given the subject matter, and easy to read. We are spared the more appalling photos and in-depth gruesomeness that so many crime stories feature, but reader beware -- there are a few parts that are a bit, shall we say, intense. Still, anyone who spends a night in front of the television will have seen much worse!

Of particular value to anyone considering a career in this field are the appendices, which list various specializations and their requirements, schools with forensic programs, and an extensive bibliography broken down by subject matter. Very handy.

© 2002 by April Chase for Curled Up With a Good Book

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