March 19, 2018

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Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA by Bridget Heos | SLJ Review

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redstarHEOS, Bridget. Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA. 272p. bibliog. glossary. notes. photos. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Oct. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062387622. POP

blood-bones-and-bulletsGr 8 Up –The use of DNA evidence by forensic scientists to help solve crimes is a relatively new innovation. It was only in 1994 that the FBI created a database of DNA samples from convicted and suspected criminals called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). However, the field of forensic science has been around for centuries. In fact, as early as 270 CE there was Zhang Ju, a Chinese coroner who wrote about the crimes he solved by examining the bodies of the victims. Using numerous real-life cases, Heos presents a riveting history of the evolution of modern forensic science. One of the first scientific tests ever developed in relation to murder was one for determining the presence of poison, in particular arsenic. This 18th-century breakthrough laid the groundwork for countless other developments in the quest to solve crimes. Heos deftly incorporates the stories behind many murders to illuminate advancements in areas such as fingerprint evidence, firearm and blood pattern analysis, and forensic anthropology (how bodies decompose). Also covered are the rise of the medical examiner, the advent of criminal profilers, and the development of DNA evidence. The text, with photographs sprinkled throughout, is gripping and easy to read but not for the faint of heart. VERDICT Sherlock Holmes lovers, CSI: Miami aficionados, and forensic science students will all be drawn to this rather gruesome yet highly entertaining and fact-packed history.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2016 issue.