Crime and Circumstance

Investigating the History of Forensic Science

by Suzanne Bell


Offers a vivid and entertaining history of the evolution of forensic science and its use in the criminal justice system

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Cover image for Crime and Circumstance

June 2008


Pages 272
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Crime/General

Today, there is more interest in forensic science than ever before. Crime and Circumstance weaves an intriguing tale of how an obscure corner of medicine dating back to ancient times matured into modern forensic science. The author explores the scientific and social threads that created forensic science and continue to drive its evolution in an entertaining narrative that introduces readers to intriguing cases and personalities across history, countries, and cultures and helps readers translate what they encounter in popular media into the reality of forensic science and laboratory investigation.

Through historical and contemporary examples, Bell illustrates how cutting-edge research migrates to forensic laboratories, a transfer that is more indirect than people might expect. Although science and the judicial system both pursue truth, the interface between them is anything but seamless. This unique historical approach focuses on personalities from scientific law enforcement and emphasizes the myriad discoveries made over the years. Through these stories, the reader is introduced to the underlying science in an interesting, lively, and accessible way.

Table of Contents

IllustrationsPrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroductionChapter 1. Sexy Science?Chapter 2. The Scene of the CatastropheChapter 3. Uniquely HumanChapter 4. Settlements and Civilization; Justice and DeathChapter 5: The Emerging Rules of the GameChapter 6: Science and Biology; Alchemy, and ChemistryChapter 7: One Elements StoryChapter 8: A Visit from GodChapter 9: Death Investigation and Forensic ToxicologyChapter 10: Forensic Chemistry: The Color of EvidenceChapter 11: The Eye of the BeholderChapter 12: Gunpowder and DuPont; Dyes and PolymersChapter 13: Microscopy and Trace EvidenceChapter 14: Patterns I: Firearms and ToolmarksChapter 15: Patterns II: Measuring and Mis-measuring ManChapter 16: Blood: Forensic Biology ArrivesChapter 17: DNA: The Genetic in Genetic MarkersChapter 18: Admissibility and the TrilogyChapter 19: Profession and PersonalitiesChapter 20: Professional ImmaturityChapter 21: Let us Return to the Scene of the CrimeNotesBibliographyIndex



"Suzanne Bell is a well known and accomplished forensic scientist in the U.S.A., and as such has written this interesting and informative book from her own perspective. However, unlike some other publications on this and like subjects that have originated in America, the author embraces this topic from a world-wide panorama. This book weaves an intriguing and engaging tale of how an obscure corner of medicine, dating back to ancient times, matured into modern forensic science. Along the way the author introduces interesting and absorbing cases and personalities across history, nations and cultures which assists the reader to translate what was encountered then, into the reality of current forensic science and laboratory investigation."Internet Law Book Review

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