Comments: 21
Actually, I can't help thinking of Quincy, too. (And I'm all with you on the fangirling for Quincy, M.E.)

And going even further back, Dorothy L.Sayers's crime fiction comes to mind a lot as well. Many of the topics McDermid mentions crop up even there, with *at least* the same level of critical insight (and btw, Ms. Sayers, Oxford academic by training that she was, actually did go to the length of testing the scientific viability of her books, as did several other Golden Age crime writers such as R. Austin Freeman and J.J. Connington) ... not to mention a contemporary perspective on people like Spillsbury.
BrokenTune 3 weeks ago
I have a feeling that Sayers and Christie both could have written a better book on forensics than this one because they did not have the journalism background.
And compared with other reads on similar topics - A is For Arsenic and even the Elements of Murder - McDermid's book is just lacking in substance.
BrokenTune 3 weeks ago
On the positive side, this book was still better than Gulp.
Thinking of your star rating for "Gulp" ... if *that'*s "on the positive side" -- ouch. (But yeah. McDermid can write, there's no question about that. Just a pity that she didn't end up writing about what she actually set out writing about ... or, well, sorta, in a way, but even to the extent she did it, not like a scientist, and while staying way too close to the surface.)
BrokenTune 3 weeks ago
Well, at least we didn't get to read what each of the characters was wearing...
Tannat 3 weeks ago
No, just a few personality traits. :)
Tannat 3 weeks ago
Hear, hear!
Elentarri's Book Blog 3 weeks ago
I have similar feelings about this book. No meat only lettuce
BrokenTune 3 weeks ago
@Tannat and @Elentarri, correct me if I'm wrong, but from previous comments, I am under the impression that you both prefer hard science in a book - did/does Forensics work for you on that score?
Which points would you have liked explained better on the science side?

I liked the bits about differentiating different kinds of petrol or different kinds of matches etc. but those bits of information seemed few and far between.
Elentarri's Book Blog 3 weeks ago
Forensics is science extra extra-lite. Having read it, I would categorise the book on my "history of things" shelf, rather than science. I would have liked more on how techniques work, more along the lines of what was going on in the lab etc. Like the differentiating the petrol and matches, but more of it and a bit more detail.
Tannat 3 weeks ago
In general, yes, I prefer hard science. I'm not sure how much hard science I'd expect in a book about forensics, but probably a little bit more than I was offered. Mostly there were a few cases where McDermid could have contrasted different techniques or elaborated just a little bit more. On the history side, some of it was interesting (the less sensational stuff) but the different stories didn't seem to follow a train of thought or theme. They were about as focused as a Wikipedia article. And there was sometimes an inordinate amount of page time spent on a particular person.

I'm also classifying it as a history of forensics rather than a science book. It would be a better history of forensics if its historical examples appeared better planned out. So far the best chapter is still chapter 3 for me.

So, no, Forensics didn't work for me as a "science" book.
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
As a lover of history, the book didn't work for me as a history book other than maybe as "extra-extra-light". ;)

My expectations of a history book include that there is a balanced telling of facts, or perceived facts from different points of view, coupled with solid referencing, and an analysis of the effects of events. There was not much of this at all in the book. As for the referencing,... I complained about the lack of sources in Gulp, but Forensics suffered from the same.
Tannat 2 weeks ago
I didn't say it was a good history book, just that I thought it fit the "history" category better than the "science" one. ;)
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
Fair enough. I'm shelving this one as "general" non-fiction. ;)
Tannat 2 weeks ago
I actually don't have any shelves called "science" or "history". I've been considering it though.
I'd be shelving it as "true crime reporting" if I had such a shelf. Since that isn't a category of book I'm sufficiently interested in, though, I don't ...
Tannat 2 weeks ago
Even so, most true crime reporting books would be a little more...focused.
Absolutely. It's just that substantively the contents was mostly true crime reporting, with a bit of science (by way of interviews), wayward comments on the legal system and physical descriptions of interviewees thrown in for good measure.
Tannat 2 weeks ago
Yeah, that's a fair assessment. Although it's less physical descriptions and more personal attributes.