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CBR4 #9: Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner by Michael Baden

I know, I know--once again with the medical examiner books. I'm sorry, but I just can't help it. The whole process is so interesting to me. I'm consistently amazed at the amount of information a forensic specialist can pull from tiny bits of biological evidence.

Dr. Michael Baden is one of the more famous medical examiners in the country--he worked on many historic cases, including the investigation into the Kennedy assassination, John Belushi's death, and the OJ Simpson case. He's also had a television program detailing his work on HBO.

The book was well-written, and Dr. Baden tries to be educational without being too dry or boring. There are a variety of cases with a variety of outcomes, and each attempts to be illustrative of a specific technique or method.

Unnatural Death is a pretty good example of the genre, though it necessarily goes over some of the same ground covered by the previous works. I will say that Dr. Baden spends more time that I thought necessary complaining about the politics involved in being the medical examiner in a large city. He had a bunch of political and legal issues that occurred back when Ed Koch was the mayor of New York City. I kept forgetting that the book is more than twenty years old, so all these slights were still fresh when he wrote it. I found it a bit petty and unrelated to the focus of the work, though.

On the whole, this is a pretty good read, and the fact that so many celebrities and famous cases were mentioned lends itself to a certain type of prurient interest. I confess that while I mostly read because I find forensic pathology fascinating, I am (like most people) not immune to a little celebrity gossip now and then.

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