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CBR4 #4: Dissecting Death: Secrets of a Medical Examiner by Dr. Frederick Zugibe

For some reason, I am really into forensics right now. It's a shame that I am both poor at science and rather squeamish, because it seems like such a fascinating job. However, between having to know all that biology and having to deal with maggots on a fairly regular basis, I am sure it is not for me.

Dr. Zugibe, who penned this book, did an excellent job. He wrote the most widely used textbook in the field of forensics, so he is great at making this interesting but also extremely informative.

Before the mid-seventies or so, a town's coroner wasn't a medical professional, but someone elected to the position by being bright enough to manage the paperwork. Often they were lawyers or business owners, and they didn't know anything about dealing with bodies. They could declare someone dead, but were unable to determine any causes that weren't blatantly obvious. Later, these laypersons were slowly replaced with trained medical examiners--people who knew what they were looking at and why it mattered.

Zugibe's book starts out with the basics -- how dead bodies are found, and what happens to them once they are. He then goes on to describe various illustrative cases, explaining how each one was (or was not) solved using forensics.

The author has a solid, knowledgeable voice, and his tone is professorial but never dull or too dry. He's obviously interested in both educating AND entertaining his reader. As far as books on this subject go, this is one of the better ones, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in forensic science.

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