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CR3 #96: Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by Dr. William Maples

This book is partly case studies and partly a memoir of Dr. Maples's journey to becoming one of the world's preeminent forensic anthropologists. Maples gives history of both himself and of the field of forensic anthropology, explaining how and why it developed. He also explains how and why he became interested in it. He goes on to detail some of the cases he's worked on, including some famous ones like investigating whether President Zachary Taylor was actually poisoned, whether the bones in a chapel in South America really belonged to Francisco Pizarro, and whether the bones found in a mass grave in Russia did in fact belong to the assassinated Romanov family. He also discusses more mundane cases, using them to illustrate various aspects of the forensic anthropology field; burned bones, chopped bones, buried bones, and hidden bones--all have their own stories to tell if they're read properly.

This book reflects Dr. Maples's scholarly nature (his "day job" is being a professor at a college as well as running his very impressive investigative lab) and is quite detailed (sometimes overly so.) He presents his cases in methodical fashion, illustrating his lessons as clearly and as simply as possible. He treats his reader like an interested student--gently leading without patronizing, though sometimes getting a little too wrapped up in his thoughts to be as clear as one would prefer. However, the book was extremely informative and full of information I hadn't come across before.

I'd certainly recommend this to anyone who likes true crime or enjoys the show "Bones". Dr. Maples has a strong, distinctive voice, and his style is for the most part quite relateable.

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