Not being a full fledge crime writer, I am always tempted to gloss over scenes that require me to do research in an unfamiluar area. That is what I depend on this series of books to do... fill me in. At three a.m...I just want to know one or two little facts that add realism to a small scene. This book was a very helpful reference guide...who comes first to the scene of a crime. Who ask the questions? Who gathers the clues? You only get so much from watching Murder She Wrote.
Very readable and helpful
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
I'm working on a series of mystery novels and have read most of the books in the "Howdunit" series. They're all more or less helpful, but this is far and away the best. The other authors seemed to think in terms of "I'm going to tell you everything I know in 100 pages," so their books often read like criminology Cliff Notes. Ms. Wingate, on the other hand, is a practicing mystery author and has an excellent sense of what an author needs to know, so the book is not only full of useful information but well-organized and fun to read (if you're not squeamish). She's clear about her areas of expertise and non-expertise: she has years of experience in fingerprinting, so she's very explicit and thorough about that, whereas in other areas (e.g., guns) she just gives a quick overview and refers the reader to the "real" experts for the technical details.I found the sample forms and reports very helpful as a guide to what investigators are looking for, and how information is communicated from (say) the fiber experts to the police. I've always especially enjoyed Ms. Wingate's novels because of how they depict the personal dynamics WITHIN a police department, which she well knows as an ex-officer. Her anecdotes in this book are not only memorable, and often very funny, but also contribute a great deal to the reader's "feel" for how a police department operates in real life.In general, I feel this is the most readable and helpful volume of the series. I hope Ms. Wingate revises it periodically -- the technology is constantly changing -- but as a guide to the "feel" of how an investigation is conducted, the book is ageless.
Entertaining as well as informative.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
I'd been interested in the Howdunit series for some time before I finally got my hands on some of them (Scene of the Crime, Deadly Doses, Police Procedural, Malicious Intent, Private Eyes, and Missing Persons). Scene of the Crime was the first that I read, and I was pleased to find it not only informative, but also entertaining. Anne Wingate has the cockeyed sort of sense of humor that I appreciate, and her easy, conversational tone kept the book from becoming too dry--the failing of some of the other books (Deadly Doses and Police Procedural). With regards to the person who opined that, given the errors with regards to firearms, the book could not have been very accurate, I must disagree. Ms. Wingate states upfront that she is not a firearms expert and that a writer wanting to know about firearms should read the book devoted to them, and she does not spend a lot of time in the book discussing firearms. A few errors on a topic in which the author admits to being no expert hardly constitutes a "plague of errors."
The best of the Howdunit Series
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 22 years ago
An excellent writer's resource. Densely packed with information but not densely written, this books covers more than its title suggests. Everything you ever wanted to know about forensics is here, of course, but the author takes you well beyond the crime scene. What distinguishes this book is the consistent awareness of writers' needs. Procedure and technique are considered in terms of their fictional possibilities and the real-life people who do the work. The author also includes resources valuable to any writer -- not just those who work the mystery genre.
A very interesting, factual book on crime investigations.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 23 years ago
A very intersting, detailed account of crime scene investigations and how they are conducted. The author (A former forensics officer and a murder mystery writer) walks the reader through investigations, step by step. Not only does she describe the variety of crime scenes, and evidence, she talks about it from both the British and American perspectives. As well, the text contains interesting discussions of real life cases. All in all, a great resource for people writing their own mysteries, but also a fascinating read for anyone interested in the work of a forensics investigator.
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