Fans of the CSI TV series and other popular cop shows probably think that forensic analysis of crime scenes is something new, a 20th century innovation in police work. In fact, examining trace evidence dates back to the ancient Greeks and Chinese. It was only with the discovery of DNA that police forensic work became as pervasive, and sometimes accurate tool for solving crimes, or proving innocence.
Forensic Analysis and DNA in Criminal Investigations by R. J. Parker and Pete Vronsky is an examination of forensics, with extensive chapters on the ancient history of criminal investigation. Most of the book, though, focuses on the use of DNA to catch the guilty and free the innocent. The authors trace forensics from its ancient roots, looking at methods that were groundbreaking, and some that were tantamount to torture, moving to the current era and the use of DNA in crime scene forensics. In addition to pointing out its value, they also discuss failures.
Several sections are devoted to cold cases, some solved through analysis of DNA trace evidence. This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in studying criminal cases, or for understanding how criminal investigations are conducted. Technical terms are explained in laymen’s terms. I assure you that you’ll come away from reading this book with a better understanding of how crimes are investigated—and, it’s not like on TV.
I give this book four stars.