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Author: Andrea Campbell

Illustrator: Jeff Sinclair

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Publisher: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.,

Material: paperback

Summary: This is a “pocket encyclopaedia” of crime scene science. It covers every conceivable aspect of the crime scene, from evidence, to body fluids, estimating time of death, bullet behavior, bones and skeletal remains, trace evidence, handwritten clues, and dirt, plants, and bugs, the reader gets an interesting, crisp, clear, and readable overview of forensics. This is a pocket-sized handbook of forensics.

Type of Reading: independent reading, interactive reading

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 8 to 12

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: The small book is worth its weight in gold. A well written, well informed book, it inspires and interests the reader with each page of science information. There is something for everyone here. The vocabulary is fascinating, abundant, and by no means esoteric. The author gives readers a history of science with interesting tests and experiments. She offers us a good motive to sharpening our awareness through observations, games and leads. The back matter makes reference easy. A youthful reader may find a career here, or at least admire the training the police officers go through with the amount of knowledge now available. I give it an A+.

Adult Reader Reaction: The author does an exceptional job of covering the whole gamut of crime scene science in a clear, concise, and sometimes humorous manner.

Pros: The book provides a ready reference for the fans of Law and Order and CSI television crime shows.

Cons: Although the book provides much interest for the readers, it is not a “textbook” on crime scene science. The author uses vignettes to demonstrate how simple and ordinary solutions help resolve crimes. This approach effectively engages the reader and suggests that s/he will be able to solve crimes. There should be some concern that, in uninformed hands, police work might be seriously compromised by a well-meaning but na´ve arm-chair “crime scene scientist." Our reviewer suggests that a disclaimer be provided.

Borrow or Buy: This could go either way. It is a niche read. For the devotees of crime scene science this will be a fun read and probably a tool that they will use as the opera buff uses his/her libretto. For those folks, the book is a “buy and hold.” For the rest of us, if you get the urge, look for it at your public library.


Educational Themes: The book is a brief overview of Crime Scene Science. One could teach with the book but must appreciate its limitations. The most complex challenges frequently turn out to be the simplest to address, while the simplest challenges turn out to be the most complex.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - science, middle grade, guidebook, crime

Date(s) Reviewed: October 2006

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