Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review: 'How to Solve a Murder' by Michael Kurland

How to Solve a Murder: The Forensic Handbook by Michael Kurland, 1995, MacMillan, $14.95, softbound, 194 pages. Category/Genre: writing how-to. Cover: the art style is a little strange,  but somewhat appealing. Where we got it: bought it. Where you can get it: Amazon, Books-A-Million.

This book has an intriguing format: Kurland first postulates a crime, then uses that example throughout the book to illustrate various forensic techniques. He begins by listing the experts involved in solving a crime -- forensic serologists, crime scene photographers, and so forth -- and briefly describing their jobs. 

He then moves on to how the investigation begins, and gives an example of a preliminary report. There's also a sample of what is called an "exploded drawing," which would be done by a criminalist. An entire chapter is devoted to the medical examiner, and here a standard autopsy form is shown. A cross- section of the muzzle of a rifled barrel is supplied in the section on guns, and there are a few illustrated examples of shell casings and bullets. Fingerprinting, suspect identification, serology (the study of blood), and DNA are all examined, as are footprints. A bibliography and index are included. 

A handy tool for anyone looking to write about crime. We enjoyed this one.

If you like this one, try: Private Eyes: A Writer's Guide to Private Investigators by Hal Blythe, Charlie Sweet, and John Landreth; Just the FActs, Ma'am: A Writer's Guide to Investigators and Investigation Techniques by Greg Fallis; and Police Procedural: A Writer's Guide to the Police and How They Work by Russell Bintliff. 

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