Silent Witnesses

Silent Witnesses
Silent Witnesses

Silent Witnesses

The Often Gruesome but Always Fascinating History of Forensic Science
By Nigel McCrery


296 Pages, 6 x 9.25

Formats: Trade Paper, PDF, Mobipocket, EPUB

Trade Paper, $21.99 (US $21.99) (CA $29.99)

ISBN 9781613730027

Rights: US & CA

Chicago Review Press (Sep 2014)


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A crime scene. A murder. A mystery. The most important person on the scene? The forensic scientist. And yet the intricate details of criminal forensics work remain a mystery to most of us. In a book that is by turns fascinating and chilling, Nigel McCrery leads readers around the world and through two centuries to relate the history of forensics in accessible and entertaining prose. He introduces such colorful characters as Dr. Edmond Locard, the "French Sherlock Holmes"; and Edward Heinrich, the "Wizard of Berkeley," who is credited with having solved over 2,000 crimes.  All the major areas of forensics, including ballistics, fiber analysis, and genetic fingerprinting, are explained with reference to the landmark cases in which they proved their worth, allowing readers to solve the crimes along with the experts. Whether detailing the identification of a severed head preserved in gin, the first murder solved because of a fingerprint, or the first time DNA evidence was used to bring a sadistic killer to justice, Silent Witnesses provides dramatic practical demonstrations of scientific principles and demonstrates a truth known by all forensic scientists: people still have a story to tell long after they are dead.


"It is a fascinating story and makes for a thoroughly good read." —Guardian

"A convincing and readable history of a science defined by the simple maxim: 'Every contact leaves a trace.'" —Times

"For those looking for insight into the early days of forensics, this is a fascinating and informative work, a great entry point. Of special note is the chapter on DNA testing, where the author plays a role in identifying the remains of the Romanovs, the former Russian royal family." —Publishers Weekly

"Where McCrery really shines is in his storytelling, which is no surprise given his background as a successful crime novelist. While certain technical portions may be difficult for some readers, true-crime enthusiasts will find the payoff worth the effort." —Kirkus

"While true criminal forensics accounts are legion, a knowledgeable book like McCrery's will spark interest and circulation." —Aleta's MSTA book blog

"Silent Witnesses is an easily accessible and well-written primer on the history of forensic science. It reads like a work of fiction but offers the reader a clear history of many of the most important advances in forensic investigative techniques...Silent Witnesses is a delightful journey through the evolution of forensic science and a very useful introduction to the subject. Highly recommended." —New York Journal of Books

"The book weaves dramatic narrative and scientific principles together in a way that allows readers to figure out crimes along with the experts." —BookTrib

Author Biography

Nigel McCrery was a police officer before he joined the BBC in 1990. There he has worked on a number of documentaries and created various series, including the crime/forensics drama Silent Witness. He is the author of several crime novels, including Still Waters.