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Publisher's Summary

The dead talk. To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: how they lived, how they died--and who killed them.

Val McDermid uncovers the secrets of forensic medicine with groundbreaking research and her own experience. Along the way you’ll wonder at how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine time of death and how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer.

©2014 Val McDermid (P)2014 W.F. Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"McDermid has the ruthless psychological scalpel that forms part of the equipment of all good novelists, whatever their genre. And, fortunately for us, she knows just how to use it." ( Guardian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for May-May
  • May-May
  • 01-25-16

Good book GOD AWFUL narration

What disappointed you about Forensics?

The book itself was great. The narration was AWFUL.

Who was your favorite character and why?

N/A

What didn’t you like about Sarah Barron’s performance?

First of all I should say that book is a really interesting, nicely written and well researched piece of popular science. I just wish I had read it, rather than listened to it.

The problem was not with the general reading, the narrator had a nice reading voice. But when she gets to quoting people, for some reason someone thought it would be a good idea forget to attempt regional and national accents. That was s SERIOUSLY BAD idea. It's so bad!! So very very bad. She is incapable of doing ANY accent than her own. It's cringe worthy. I was embarrassed for her!

The American accent was possibly the worst, but the regional English accents were a close second. She manages to make people, who are undoubtedly highly intelligent experts in their field, sound like dim imbeciles from a Little Britain sketch. Maybe her regional Scottish accents were better, as she is Scottish, but given how TRULY AWFUL the others were I wouldn't be surprised if they were bad too.

It's not only that the use of accents were TOTALLY distracting (I cannot truly emphasise how distracting they were) it's that the use of them was also inconsistent and at times simply incorrect. I happen to have worked for one of the people quoted in the book - Clive Stafford Smith. He's a lawyer who has represented many people on death row in the U.S. The problem is that the narrator gives him an American accent. Stafford Smith has indeed worked and lived in the States, but he's from Cambridgeshire and speaks with an English accent. He's also relatively famous and is interviewed on TV fairly regularly, so there's no mistaking his accent. So it's just lazy that they got that wrong.

I know I'm going on and on about it, but that is symptomatic of how blummin' awful it was and that it completely ruined what was actually a great book. I can actually only assume that the book was even better than I think because I thought it was pretty good despite the TERRIBLE narration. Imagine what I'd have thought of it had been good!

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The content of the book was super interesting, well researched and nicely written.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Ann Watson
  • Ann Watson
  • 09-06-15

ruined by the narrator

Why oh why did the narrator have to use such phoney, annoying regional accents? The narration completely ruins the interesting and factual content of the book. Very disappointed that I was only able to listen to the book once, as I was so irritated by this dreadful narrator. The first listen was endured because of the interesting content, but the second attempt was abandoned before the end of chapter one. Peter Arnold doesn't speak in the way portrayed at all and his expertise is considerably demeanoured by it. TERRIBLE!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Justin Moors
  • Justin Moors
  • 03-06-15

Fascinating insight

Very enjoyable listen, shows the incredible depth of research Val has done over the years and just how far forensics have come during our lifetimes. Particularly interesting to hear forensic insights into some high profile cases that I remember from the news.

Enjoyed, for the most part, the narration, my only criticism would be the varying accents used by the narrator when quoting passages from some of the experts. Some accents made me chuckle, some made me cringe. She has a lovely Scottish accent, very easy on the ear, I felt there was no real need to use different voices to emphasise the quotes of others.

Highly recommend this, especially if you are a fan of any crime writers or tv shows, not just the work of Val McDermid. Will listen again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Daniel O'Connor
  • Daniel O'Connor
  • 02-13-17

Great book, but ruined by the narrator's accents

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If the narrator had stuck to her own accent -- which is actually pretty authoritative, clear and wonderful -- I'd have loved to listen to the whole book.

As it is, I'm bailing out after suffering through two hours.

Sarah Barron: no more accents. Ever again.

What other book might you compare Forensics to, and why?

Unique in terms of content.

In terms of narration and the way you can be put off a really good book by a ruined narration, I'd put it up there with any one of Jot Davies's many crackers. Yes. That bad.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Sarah Barron?

Sarah Barron, minus all of her distracting regional accents.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Forensics?

The content was great, so once I return the Audible book I'm going to buy a Kindle or paper copy.

Any additional comments?

I will pay closer attention to listeners' reviews from now on. I can't pretend I wasn't warned.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Ceris511
  • Ceris511
  • 03-24-15

Excellent

Very informative interesting and enjoyable. The narration was good too.i would recommend this book and look forward to the next val McDermid book .

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-12-17

Interesting content, difficult listening

I wish I could have given this book 3 1/2 stars. While the subject matter was interesting, I found the narrator's accents grating and distracting, and tone of voice heavy. I was relieved when I finally got to the end of the book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Alan Coady
  • Alan Coady
  • 11-18-17

Shedding light on dark matter

“When looking for a book, you may discover that you were in fact looking for the book next to it.” (Roberto Calasso).

I knew of McDermid’s reputation as a writer of crime thrillers but was yet to sample her work. I can’t now recall the reason I chose this particular work - perhaps a 2-for-1 sale. However, as the title ought to have suggested to me, it’s not a fictional thriller at all, but a thrilling description of the various categories of forensic work.

Following a general introduction, nine fields are covered: Fire Investigation; Forensic Entomology; Pathology; Toxicology; Fingerprints; Blood Spatter/DNA; Forensic Anthropology; Facial Reconstruction; Digital Forensics; Forensic Psychology and the final chapter reflects on their expression in The Courtroom - where the rigours of science come second to adversarial legal procedure.

Each field cites cases from legal history. several are very familiar, and there are some interesting historical inclusions. The feeling I enjoyed throughout the book was that several things i half knew from programmes such as Silent Witness and Waking the Dead were fully explained in an engaging way.

In as modest way as you could hope for, McDermid cites her own "Killing the Shadows" and this novel (and it really is, this time) focusses on Forensic Psychology. This is a 'next stop' for me.

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Profile Image for Unearthed Jewellery
  • Unearthed Jewellery
  • 08-25-17

Interesting book...poor narration

Interesting book...poor narration.

I found this to be an interesting book but the narration spoiled it for me.

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Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 08-01-17

A fantastic read

A great insight from Val into the secret world of forensic science throughout our history.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for CK
  • CK
  • 06-28-17

It's fairly dry, but the topic is fascinating.

If the topic of forensics interests you, you'll get over the dry delivery and definitely get something out of this. Give it a go.

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Profile Image for Sandra M Platypus
  • Sandra M Platypus
  • 04-06-18

Fascinating. brilliant

well researched. interesting. fascinating. excellent structure. good narration. learnt new facts. a very good book

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Profile Image for Ross McDougall
  • Ross McDougall
  • 10-31-17

a timeline of forensic advancement

this book is a perfect cross-section of forensics and all the ways it has worked over the years to support (or undermine) the pursuit of those who commit crimes by justice.

McDermid works her way through forensics from its earliest application to today's more advanced techniques, presenting the concepts in easy-to-understand bite-size pieces. The way that she builds on those concepts to discuss some pretty advanced processes and decisions is a masterstroke - I never felt left behind or like I was missing out on the information I needed to understand the content.

I particularly enjoyed the cross-section of early forensics and the swinging pendulum in public opinion and in the courtroom between acceptance of the some questionable concepts as irrefutable evidence and complete disregard for solid scientific foundation.

The book was a delight to listen to while travelling or going about my day; the concepts are explained so well and in detail. One word of warning however: I did have one or two occasions where I decided it may be best to stop eating for a few minutes while some of the more distasteful topics were discussed, but it never descended into full-blown gross-out mode.

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Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 08-17-17

great book normal accent fine

the accents used are extremely annoying and not necessary to this production at all. t

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Lesia
  • Lesia
  • 05-06-17

Crime Ahoy!

What made the experience of listening to Forensics the most enjoyable?

Using real stories to Illustrate forensic practices made it not only relevant but more meaningful.

What did you like best about this story?

The analysis of the stories

0 of 1 people found this review helpful