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Val McDermid


Bestselling author of Broken Ground “offers fascinating glimpses” into the real world of criminal forensics from its beginnings to the modern day (The Boston Globe).
The dead can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces, forensic scientists unlock the mysteries of the past and serve justice. In Forensics, international bestselling crime author Val McDermid guides readers through this field, drawing on interviews with top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and her own experiences on the scene.
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.
Prepare to travel to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites as McDermid comes into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, tracing the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.
448 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
Have you already read it? How did you like it?


  • Sergey Bondarevshared an impression7 years ago
    🌴Beach Bag Book

    Awesome, modern, informative

  • Мариshared an impression6 years ago
    👍Worth reading
    💡Learnt A Lot

    Pretty good book on the topic

  • Полина Федороваshared an impression8 years ago
    👍Worth reading
    💡Learnt A Lot


  • Dmitry Pupkovhas quoted7 years ago
    some societies, inheritance flowed not from father to son, but from father to sister’s son, because you could be sure that your sister’s son was of the same blood as you. You knew for a fact his grandmother was your mother; you couldn’t be certain your own sons shared your blood.
  • Мариhas quoted6 years ago
    If ricin is swallowed, its symptoms are nasty but not fatal. But if it is injected or inhaled or absorbed through the mucus membranes, a dose the size of a few grains of salt will kill an adult man. Ricin inhibits the protein synthesis of cells, causing cell death, and damage to the major organs. There is a delay of a few hours before the appearance of symptoms, which include high fever, seizures, severe diarrhoea, chest pains, breathing difficulties and oedema
  • Dmitry Pupkovhas quoted7 years ago
    In 2008, Mike Berry commented (for Sky Television) on the extraordinary case of the disappearance of schoolgirl Shannon Mathews, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. His analysis of events relied on exactly the sort of sensitivity to nuances of expression and behaviour which are needed for a psychological autopsy. ‘I noticed that when her mother [Karen] was being interviewed on the sofa with her young partner, one of her children was trying to climb up on her lap and she kept pushing the child away. I thought if you’ve just lost one of your children the expected reaction is to hug the others tightly to you, and she didn’t. Then she said something about “The street will be pleased when they find her”, rather than “I will be pleased. I’ll be over the moon.”’ It turned out that Karen had drugged her 9-year-old daughter with temazepam and given her to an accomplice, who had kept her for a month in his nearby house. The plan was for Karen’s boyfriend to ‘find’ Shannon and then split the reward money with Karen. But, following a tip-off, police found the little girl in the accomplice’s house, bundled into a drawer under the accomplice’s platform bed.

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