Review: Forensics by Val McDermid

“We see some of the worst things that mankind can do to each other and I still get shocked by some of the things that occur. Most people can go home and talk to their families about what they’ve done at work. We can’t. But even if I could, I don’t want my family to know some of the things that I’ve seen.”
Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid


Val McDermid has been one of my favourite writers for many many years. On a recent trip to my favourite bookshop I picked up a copy of this little beauty, thinking it was one of her crime novels that I had not yet read, but oh boy was I wrong! Forensics is a non-fiction book that goes behind the scenes with those that solve the crimes she so effortlessly depicts in her books. The chapter titles caught my eye immediately, covering topics such as fire scene investigation, entomology, pathology, toxicology, fingerprinting, blood spatter and DNA, anthropology, facial reconstruction, digital forensics, forensic psychology, the crime scene and the courtroom.

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 draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and 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.

This books is written is such a way that I would almost describe as perfect. It is not overly simple and patronising nor it is so complicated that the average Joe like myself cannot understand it. Admittedly I am someone that has read and watched an awful lot on the subject but I do not think that it would be too complicated for someone that had no background knowledge on the subject. It is clearly well research and I love that it contains interviews from specialist in their fields. I may only have read this book a week ago I am already looking forward to re-reading this book, I am sure there will be things that I missed this time around that I will pick up on next time!


How did I rate it?

I absolutely give the book 5/5 stars. If you haven’t already, go buy it now, you’ll thank me later. Promise.

Peace and pages

2 Replies to “Review: Forensics by Val McDermid”

  1. Cole says:

    I’m doing forensics at uni and I’m also looking to read more next year so I definitely need to pick this up! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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