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The author has researched and picked material from legal cases mostly from the 19th century. The lack of scientific explanation is obvious. Also, the cases are picked to illuminate points rather than follow development of a scientific concept. The attachment to Sherlock Holmes seems to have been to tie together what must have been tedious research.
The echoes and poor overdubbing don't help.
Should be on the remainder rack.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
"Sherlock Holmes may have been fictional," writes E.J. Wagner, "but what we learn from him is very real. He tell us that science provides not simplistic answers but a rigorous method of formulating questions that may lead to answers." The Science of Sherlock Holmes offers a history of forensic science by focusing on 1) what informed Arthur Conan Doyle's portrayal of Holmes and his method, and 2) how Holmes in turn influenced his real-life descendants. It's not a comprehensive history, but rather a thematic study of advances in various areas of forensics - ballistics, footprints, fingerprints, blood analysis, etc. - with in-depth illustrations from some of the most famous (or infamous) watershed cases in the UK and US (including Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Borden). For my purposes, wanting to get a better handle on how Holmes was informed by and then informed advances in this field, I found it to be an engaging and satisfying listen.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A pretty good introduction to early forensic science marred by the author's narration- I think she's going for eerie but her Schlick soon gets a little tiresome. It's apparent that the book was well researched and does not rely overmuch on the usual examples drawn from real life that are often trotted out in books on criminology.
The author is narrator, which has some merit, but although she's an academic and so, presumably, accustomed to speak in public, she's not an actor, so delivery is not perfect, and her pronunciation of European proper nouns can be jarring to the non-USA ear.
However, she does present an entertaining and enlightening history of forensic science, linking fact with Holmesian and other classic fiction, and drawing on cases, some very famous, some less well known, from UK and US, France, Germany mainly, with awareness of varied culture and legal systems -Scots law is not English law, for example, we have the third verdict of "not proven" so important before capital punishment was abolished.
She does, however, refer to the august alma mater I share with Arthur Conan Doyle as "a non-residential school"!
This is Edinburgh University, founded 1583, but perhaps her odd description isn't a put down in US English...
(Or maybe she had funding from St Andrews, Aberdeen or Glasgow - our older rivals - JUST JOKING!)
There is amusing advice on performing post-mortems on the dining room table, or even in the kirkyard after the service. I suspect this was more a US thing; in my adult lifetime, emergency surgery or Caesarian sections on the kitchen table in some remote part of Highlands and Islands, but never heard of a pathologist keen to persuade the Air Ambulance out in bad weather to dismantle the dead.
It is well worth a couple of listens, and it's mostly good stuff