A Forensic Ecologist on Life, Death, and Crime-Solving

Book review: The Nature of Life and Death, by Patricia Wiltshire (Amazon / Book Depository) Patricia Wiltshire is a botanist, forensic ecologist, and palynologist — what she defines as “one who studies pollen and other palynomorphs.” She works with the police in the United Kingdom, drawing on decades of experience and meticulous microscopic examinations to determine what pollen, fungi, microbes and all manner of plant … Continue reading A Forensic Ecologist on Life, Death, and Crime-Solving

Four Women and their Crime “Obsessions”

Book review: Savage Appetites, by Rachel Monroe (Amazon / Book Depository) For the past few years, as the US murder rate has approached historic lows, stories about murder have become culturally ascendant…whether our tastes tended toward high-end HBO documentaries interrogating the justice system or something more like Investigation Discovery’s Swamp Murders. (Or, as was often the case, both. True crime tends to scramble traditional high/low … Continue reading Four Women and their Crime “Obsessions”

The Most Terrifying Serial Killer We Didn’t Know Existed

Book Review: American Predator, by Maureen Callahan (Amazon / Book Depository) In March 2012, Texas Highway Patrol needed a reason to stop a man on their highways. He’d been using the ATM card of missing 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, who’d been abducted at gunpoint from the coffee stand where she worked in Anchorage, Alaska. When he went slightly over the speed limit, the resulting traffic stop … Continue reading The Most Terrifying Serial Killer We Didn’t Know Existed

A Forensic Anthropologist on Her Life’s Work in Death

Book review: All that Remains, by Sue Black (Amazon / Book Depository) As the product of a strict, no-nonsense, Scottish Presbyterian family where a spade was called a shovel and empathy and sentimentality were often viewed as weaknesses, I like to think my upbringing has made me pragmatic and thick-skinned, a coper and a realist. When it comes to matters of life and death I harbor … Continue reading A Forensic Anthropologist on Her Life’s Work in Death

An Investigator Spills on America’s Tabloid-Favorite Unsolved Murder

Book review: Foreign Faction, by A. James Kolar (Amazon| Book Depository| Publisher’s site to support the author directly) Burke Ramsey recently settled his $750 million defamation lawsuit against CBS and producers of the 2016 docuseries The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey, wherein featured experts and investigators announced their conclusion that he allegedly was his sister’s murderer. The series explores and attempts to resolve the ambiguities around the 1996 Christmas night … Continue reading An Investigator Spills on America’s Tabloid-Favorite Unsolved Murder

25 Years of a Mysterious Australian Cold Case

Book review: The Phillip Island Murder, by Vikki Petraitis and Paul Daley (Amazon / Book Depository / ebook available directly from Clan Destine Press) Listening through back episodes of the eerie and excellent Australian true crime podcast Casefile, I came across one that featured such a perplexing story: that of the 1986 murder of 23-year-old Beth Barnard, and the simultaneous disappearance of Vivienne Cameron. These two … Continue reading 25 Years of a Mysterious Australian Cold Case

Mystery and Cover-Up: What Happened on an Austrian Ski Slope in 1989?

Book review: Cold a Long Time, by John Leake (Amazon /Book Depository) The anguish caused by a family member’s disappearance is difficult to describe …The unexplained absence of someone you love produces a void into which all normal life collapses. Though your panic will eventually subside, your all-consuming desire to know what happened will not. The mystery will preoccupy you until you find your missing family … Continue reading Mystery and Cover-Up: What Happened on an Austrian Ski Slope in 1989?

An Austrian Serial Killer: The Strange Story of “Rehabilitated” Murderer Jack Unterweger

Book review: The Vienna Woods Killer, by John Leake (Amazon / Book Depository) John Leake, an American writer who lived nearly a decade in Vienna, wrote this definitive account of Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger. Unterweger’s is quite the interesting story, not least because the crime of serial murder is far from common in Austria. Combined with his background of alleged rehabilitation and crime spree across … Continue reading An Austrian Serial Killer: The Strange Story of “Rehabilitated” Murderer Jack Unterweger

Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Book review: Blood & Ivy, by Paul Collins Amazon On November 23, 1849, shortly before Thanksgiving, Dr. George Parkman entered Harvard’s Medical College to visit a tenant of his, the college’s chemistry professor, John White Webster. He was never seen again. A familiar figure in and around Boston, Dr. Parkman’s disappearance grabbed plenty of news headlines, both the expected and the fanciful, and generated waves … Continue reading Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Unsolved Mysteries of the I-45

Book review: Deliver Us, by Kathryn Casey (Amazon / Book Depository) It’s only natural to want to believe we are in control, that when we wake each morning, we decide what we do, that our lives don’t rest in the hands of others or, even worse, of that unseen yet eternal influence commonly referred to as destiny. Kathryn Casey generally writes the kind of true … Continue reading Unsolved Mysteries of the I-45

Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

Book review: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist, by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington (Amazon / Book Depository) Despite the relatively low pay of the state positions in forensic pathology, a doctor willing to bend the profession’s guidelines to help supply meet demand could make good money. There are quite a few places across the country where that’s exactly what happened – where doctors have … Continue reading Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

Case Histories of an Unusual Investigative Group

Book review: No Stone Unturned, by Steve Jackson In 1988, several criminalists and other scientists sat down in a Denver-area restaurant and came up with the idea of burying pigs to study changes to environments caused by the graves and their contents. Disturbed by what they’d witnessed of outdated techniques for locating clandestine burial sites and the recovery of the remains of murder victims, their idea … Continue reading Case Histories of an Unusual Investigative Group