Flesh and Blood

From Margaret Mezzacapo

Author:  Patricia Cornwell

Title:  Flesh and Blood

Here’s the latest Kay Scarpetta novel, giving new meaning to the phrase, “If you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.” The usual cast of characters returns and follows the same predictable formula. Kay’s niece, Lucy, is still brilliant and annoying. Her investigator, Marino, is still obnoxious and annoying. Her husband, Benton, is still impeccably groomed and annoying – you get the picture.  And, of course, there’s a nemesis. Patricia Cornwell’s research remains thorough and helps lend a voice of authenticity to the tale. I’m still a Scarpetta fan and will await the next book, but I sincerely hope Cornwell will shake it up a little.

Blood on the table : the greatest cases of New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author:  Colin Evans

Title:   Blood on the table : the greatest cases of New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner 

Blood on the table: the greatest cases of New York’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner by Colin Evans echoes some of the history which I had already known through reading Arsenic and clam chowder: murder in Gilded Age New York by James D. Livingston. Colin Evans explores, in detail, the complex history and tumultuous beginnings of the Coroner’s Office, which was eventually renamed. “Of the sixty-five men who had held the office of coroner since consolidation, not one was thoroughly qualified, by training or experience, for the adequate performance of his duties. By occupation, nineteen were general physicians without any formal training in legal medicine, eight were undertakers, seven were politicians, six were real estate dealers, two were saloonkeepers, and two were plumbers; the rest were respectively, a lawyer, a printer, an auctioneer, a contractor, a carpenter, a painter, a dentist, a butcher ….” This book was an eye-opener regarding the politics and fiduciary issues plaguing the Coroner’s Office. The Coroner’s Office was eventually abolished in 1915. “The small print stated that the current holder of the positon would be replaced when their engagement ended on January 1, 1918. Beginning in January 1918, the city of New York, would have its first chief Medical Examiner. For anyone interested in forensics and history, this book is a perfect amalgamation of both. It is sprinkled throughout with true crime examples and the bitter rivalries engendered by the esteem attached to the office of Medical Examiner.

The Black Country

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  Alex Grecian
Title:  The Black Country 
The Black Country: a novel of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad by Alex Grecian is the second installment of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad and, to me, contained traces reminiscent of a crime which truly occurred. For more information on the true crime case, please see The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: a shocking murder and the undoing of a great Victorian detective by Kate Summerscale. The Murder Squad is sent to the black country or coal country to find some missing family members. Sutton Price, his wife, and his youngest son have disappeared. The three older children are fine and are being cared for by the housekeeper and watched over by the townspeople. Meanwhile, the detectives are trying to find the missing family members and being hindered by the superstitious nature of the townsfolk and by the fact that the ground is slowly giving away due to the tunnels being carved beneath for coal mining. Sutton Price’s second wife is his children’s former nanny and the children view her as an interloper. The first wife ran away. The detectives do finally succeed in unraveling the whole miserable tale in the place that is causing such trouble for the townspeople, the mineshafts. The youngest son was murdered by a most unusual suspect and gave me pause because it forces one to consider the nature versus nurture argument. Is evil learned or is it an innate force? The Black Country is an excellent read for those who appreciate a good mystery.

A Lesson in Chemistry

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  Jillian Stone
A Lesson in Chemistry
In 1887 London,” forensics” is a new science being used to fight crime.  Archibald Bruce is the Director of the Crime Laboratory for the Criminal Investigations Division of Scotland Yard whose typical day is spent collecting and testing evidence, dealing with explosives and creating new devices.  In his spare time he is a Professor of Chemistry at the university where he meets Fiona Rose.  Archie finds love, rescues Agent Phineas Gunn and becomes entangled in a mission to stop an arms dealer from supplying weapons and explosives to anarchist factions throughout Europe and the Americas.  Readers familiar with the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series will be familiar with Archie who is an important character, but not one of the major characters.  I am glad to learn more about him and hope that he becomes the focus of a future novel.  The titles in the series are:  “An Affair with Mr. Kennedy” bk 1, “A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis” bk 2 and “A Private Duel with Agent Gunn” bk 3.  This exclusive Kindle eBook is available on our circulating Paperwhite Kindle.

The Yard

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  Alex Grecian
The Yard
Detective Inspector Walter Day is new to the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad. When a body is found in a steamer trunk at the Eaton Square Station, it becomes his investigation. Pressure to solve the case quickly increases when word gets out that it is one of their own, Inspector Christian Little, who has been murdered. Day is assisted by coroner, Dr. Bernard Kingsley, who is a forensic pioneer at University College Hospital. Their unconventional methods are ridiculed by his superiors and colleagues and he begins to doubt his ability to solve the crime. To add to his distress, Constable Nevil Hammersmith, discovers the body of a 5 year old boy stuffed halfway up a chimney. Are these two cases somehow connected? Set in Victorian London, the period details and the use of real historical figures makes this a must read for fans of Sherlockian mysteries and the advent of criminology such as in Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.

Bringing Adam home : the abduction that changed America

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Standiford, Les
Bringing Adam home : the abduction that changed America
 This is the heartbreaking story of the 1981 abduction and murder of Adam Walsh, the son of John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted (AMW) T.V. program.  According to the authors (and later the Hollywood (FL) PD), the case is now solved and closed.  Les Standiford is a well-known author and Joe Matthews is a retired detective and polygraph expert from Miami-Dade PD and is now an investigator on the AMW program.  Joe assisted the detectives early in the investigation of the murder, and was called upon by John and Reve Walsh in 2006 to conduct a complete, methodical private investigation to solve the crime once and for all. Joe was given access to all the original police files. The Walshes suspected all along that Ottis Toole, a drifter and admitted serial killer, was Adam’s murderer.  Toole had confessed to the killing several times over the years, and then recanted. But he knew things that only the killer could know.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), Toole died in prison serving other charges in 1996. He was never charged with the murder.  The book serves as an indictment of the Hollywood PD, the Broward County authorities, and of the incompetent investigation of the murder.

The most dramatic evidence is a photo taken of Toole’s Cadillac floorboard carpeting. You absolutely must see this photo, enhanced by Luminol to detect blood, to believe it. Incredibly, this (and other damning) evidence was there for the detectives to see all along.  Some passages were difficult to understand due to the coincidence that many surnames began with “H”, such as, “Hoisington made an effort to do what Hessler ordered, but by the time Hoffman and his partner Hickman had finished with Toole … “.  (There are also characters named Hart, Hughes, Haggerty, and Hardaman, I kid you not). Another confounding aspect of the book was the typographical errors. There is reference made to a Gerald Schaffer, Toole’s one-time cellmate. Schaffer’s name is misspelled twice later in the book. There is a Cast of Characters section in the back, but it is of limited usefulness. Fans of true crime will most probably like this book.

It comes with a warning, however: the subject matter is very disturbing and sometimes graphic.

A fly for the prosecution : how insect evidence helps solve crimes

From Andrea Kalinowski
author: Goff, M. Lee
A fly for the prosecution : how insect evidence helps solve crimes
A fly for the prosecution : how insect evidence helps solve crimes by M. Lee Goff was a book right up my alley.  The title, a play on Witness for the Prosecution, drew me in and captured my full attention.  This book explores the cycle of life and death in the bug kingdom and how it can assist forensic scientists, and therefore the police, in determining time of death.  Flies come to a body in an orderly sequence that has been documented in an empirical manner.  They are irrefutable witnesses to the crimes man commits against man.  The evidence offered by the flies cannot be refuted successfully and is therefore invaluable to law enforcement.  A quick and enjoyable read