Cracking cases : the science of solving crimes /

Main Author: Lee, Henry C.
Other Authors: O'Neil, Thomas.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2002.
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Review by Choice Review

Lee is one of the US's leading criminologists and forensic scientists, probably most famous for his work on the O.J. Simpson trial. Here he documents how scientific evidence was used, and perhaps abused, by trial lawyers in five different high-profile cases, including the Simpson trial. Each trial reads as a separate story loaded with minute detail concerning the "facts of the case" and couched in scientific terminology. It certainly provides an authoritative and even entertaining look at how forensic science works, or perhaps more appropriately, how it ought to work. There is also a minor subplot in that each of the five documented cases involves a "troubled marriage," three of which involve policemen. Though no one doubts Lee's professional credentials, this book is really aimed at a popular audience and is not a resource work for courses in history or philosophy of science. Lee's overriding theme is that if authorities would just preserve the crime scene and collect enough evidence, scientists could solve most crimes. Fun reading despite pedagogic shortcomings. For more insightful and scholarly looks at how forensic science can be used and abused, see Assassination Science, ed. by James Fetzer (1998). General readers. J. A. Siegel Michigan State University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Lee is Connecticut's chief crime-scene investigator whose fame spread far beyond the criminology profession (in which he is a sought-after consultant) to the celebrity-fixated world obsessed by the O. J. Simpson trial. His report of his involvement on the defense side of that trial is one of five cases recounted here. Expert in the forensics of a crime scene, distinct from forensic pathology, Lee highlights the investigative mysteries that cases pose; in the O. J. case, it was the alleged tampering of the scene by police. Coincidentally, all of the cases recounted here arose out of marital animosity, or more truthfully, wife battering. However clinical and objective Lee strives to be, the heinousness of the crimes breaks through as he describes the victims' postures at the murder scenes. No matter how staged the bloody scene may be, Lee's exacting eye catches any discrepancies, and through various blood and blood-spatter tests, he produces evidence to back up his hunches. True-crime buffs will snap this up. Gilbert Taylor.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In the tradition of Alphonse Bertillon and Lee's close friend and contemporary Michael Baden (author of the recent Dead Reckoning), the latest from renowned forensic criminologist Lee (Henry Lee's Crime Scene Handbook) takes readers through the steps of the investigative process of five homicide cases. Lee exposes the methodologies of crafty killers an air conditioner cranked up to disguise a victim's time of death, a shooting concealed as a suicide, a corpus delecti (literally, "the body of the crime") destroyed via a woodchipper in four of the five investigations; in the fifth, he revisits the mangled O.J. Simpson inquiry. Lee takes his responsibility to the scientific method seriously (which comes through in somewhat cold storytelling) and does not hesitate to place blame where he feels it's due. Justifying his work for the defense in the O.J. Simpson case, Lee criticizes the LAPD investigation as being compromised by bumbled procedure, cross-contamination and the mishandling of crucial blood evidence. Each of the cases considered here not only provides a rousing tale of forensic work, but also details the practical techniques such as bloodstain pattern analysis, crime scene photography and latent fingerprint detection through the use of alkyl-2-cyanoacrylate (Super Glue). If Lee's material has an element of the slapdash, it's probably for good reason after all, he's been a consultant to over 300 law enforcement agencies and is the editor of seven peer-reviewed journals. But attention to storytelling reveals the characters behind the cases, and supports Lee's assertion that "no one person... is responsible for the guilty being found out and successfully prosecuted." B&w photos throughout; color insert not seen by PW. (Apr.) Forecast: The true-crime crowd will consider this essential reading, and with a segment scheduled on ABC TV's 20/20, it may reach a broader audience. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Lee (Famous Crime Scenes Revisited: From Sacco-Vanzetti to O.J. Simpson) is a world-renowned forensic criminologist and chief emeritus in the Department of Public Safety in Meriden, CT. In his newest book (written with journalist O'Neil), he discusses the forensic findings of five cases all involving emotional and physical domestic abuse resulting in the death of the female partner. The cases are absorbing, from O.J. to the Wood Chipper, "which contributed to a change in the American criminal justice system," to police officers who believed their professional experience would be sufficient to turn forensic suspicion away from them to one very angry college professor. The manner in which some of these men decided to carry out their crimes is horrific. Lee carefully sets out the forensic evidence used at trial: DNA, blood spatters, gunshot residue (GSR), bodily injury, stomach contents, and the very important stages of body decomposition. Lee presents the cases in a straightforward manner, relating the forensic evidence and explaining in fascinating detail how the data work to exonerate or convict. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Karen Evans, Indiana State Univ. Lib., Terre Haute (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Lee, a renowned forensic criminologist, reviews five domestic homicide cases that he has worked on, all of them examples of a male fatally assaulting a female to whom he was currently or had recently been married. Sketching out the scenarios surrounding each of the murders, he establishes the chronological flow of events both before and after the homicide, and he brings the personalities of murderer and victim into focus. Often, his detailed accounts of the murder scenes are horrific, bloody, frightening, and graphic. Lee separates the emotional response and focuses on the scientific skills required to ferret out information needed to solve the crimes. This sometimes leads to explanations of the equipment, procedures, chemicals, and so on needed to find and process data. For example, he details how to figure out the angle of the drip of blood drops in order to discover the angle of the blow to a body. A book for teens interested in working in forensics, police work, or true crime.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.