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The perfect gift for the hard-core crime fiction addict.
The forensic entomologist turns a dispassionate, analytic eye on scenes from which most people would recoil--human corpses in various stages of decay, usually the remains of people who have met a premature end through accident or mayhem. To Lee Goff and his fellow forensic entomologists, each body recovered at a crime scene is an ecosystem, a unique microenvironment colonized in succession by a diverse array of flies, beetles, mites, spiders, and other arthropods: some using the body to provision their young, some feeding directly on the tissues and by-products of decay, and still others preying on the scavengers.
Using actual cases on which he has consulted, Goff shows how knowledge of these insects and their habits allows forensic entomologists to furnish investigators with crucial evidence about crimes. Even when a body has been reduced to a skeleton, insect evidence can often provide the only available estimate of the postmortem interval, or time elapsed since death, as well as clues to whether the body has been moved from the original crime scene, and whether drugs have contributed to the death.
An experienced forensic investigator who regularly advises law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad, Goff is uniquely qualified to tell the fascinating if unsettling story of the development and practice of forensic entomology.
The perfect gift for the hard-core crime fiction addict.
A new breed of forensic scientists has discovered that they can actually solve crimes by studying the insect demolition crew that dismantles the human body after death. While the fauna in this book might not be everyone's cup of tea, for others of us, A Fly for the Prosecution, by M. Lee Goff, is deliciously disgusting. You'll find out that maggots aren't alone—a veritable Cosa Nostra of creepy-crawlies gather at the scene of the crime, from hide beetles to wasps to ants, each with a special role to play as the body decomposes.
— Vicki Croke
I planned to leaf through the book, then read it in earnest the next day. But the opening paragraph grabbed me: 'It was a perfect morning for shoreline fishing and throwing nets for crabs. The sun was shining brightly and the air was perfumed with the scent of plumeria when three fishermen set off for Pearl Harbor...Peering over the fence in the direction of the stench, one spotted a dead body lying on its back.' Goff had me hooked.
— Elaine Masters
Overall, Goff has written a good book about a fascinating and fairly new subject. Especially for crime buffs and science buffs, this book is quite engrossing—as long as you aren't grossed out by a few flies, maggots, beetles and other crawling critters.
— David Bloomberg
Seductive...Goff is a forensic entomologist, and he tells the story of what exactly that means and of how his field (which hardly existed before 1980) came to take a respected place in death investigations. Along the way, he provides a small hive of entomological tales...Goff, a marvelously vivid and clear explainer of his science...uses plenty of true-life (or rather true-death) cases to show how it's done. The tales can be riveting.
— Atul Gawande
Goff takes you into the world of the forensic entomologists: the intrepid band of insect experts around the world who turn their intimate knowledge of creepy crawlers to the service of police work...A fascinating read...Great, gory stuff. Goff seems like just the sort of gifted storyteller you'd want to have a drink with—but, perhaps, not dinner.
— John Schwartz
A dead body is fertile ground for distinct waves of insect populations to inhabit...The succession of insect occupation of the body gives important clues to the post-mortem interval, and acts as a forensic clock which can provide often incriminating evidence in a murder case...The right sort of person to put together this unsavory combination of criminology and natural science is M. Lee Goff...[whose] book on the subject is the first of its kind. In it, Goff describes how insect evidence helps solve crimes and convict perpetrators...Behind each story is a lesson in forensic entomology...Goff is not your everyday academic. He is bohemian, alternative, bold; a true biologist, he is observant and involved...But he is also very human.
— Nasim Mavaddat
Anyone interested in forensics will want to read [A Fly for the Prosecution]. Author M. Lee Goff has pioneered the use of entomology to assist in solving crimes. [His] book is easy to read and free of technical jargon...This is a great book for everyone to read. I recommend it especially to the professional entomologist and to anyone who uses insects in the classroom or who has an interest in forensics.
— Susan Y. Nichols
Although forensic entomology has a certain fascination for the public, any forensic pathologist will tell you that it is much more entertaining to read about cases than to collect live arthropods from decaying human corpses. This is where Goff's book comes in—[it's a] colourful collection of forensic entomology research and cases (mostly in his own Hawaii), along with personal thoughts about how to deal with violent death and decay.
— Mark Benecke
Goff, a pioneer in the field [of forensic entomology], says he learned to avoid jargon when testifying in court, and in his maximally informative, minimally rebarbative professional memoir, he treats readers as if they were jurors. His tales of analyzing the species found on a corpse...should prove riveting to anyone interested in insects or crimimal procedure.
— Ray Olson
[This] book is witty, well-written, scientifically lucid, and packed with case histories, amusing anecdotes, and practical information. Anyone with a genuine interest in the subject—whether professional or general—can hardly fail to be impressed and enlightened.
— John A. Lee
Dr. Goff's incisive, detailed and often humorous description of forensic entomology will be a popular addition to any library
Dr. Goff describes in great detail the use of insects in criminal investigations, liberally illustrating his information with detailed case histories. He clearly illustrates how insects are used in death investigations, to determine time of death, as well as aiding in many other facets of the investigations.
— Gail Anderson
Lee Goff leads us through his exciting and, at the same time, entertaining world that strongly depends on silent crime scene assistants: maggots, adult flies, beetles and, occasionally, a grasshopper.
— Mark Benecke
An unusual case from Texas involved the body of a woman found with the mangled remains of a grasshopper in her clothing. At first, nobody paid much attention to the grasshopper, although its parts were collected and preserved as evidence. The police identified several suspects and brought them n for questioning. At the time, 1985, male fashion was making another of its statements by reintroducing cuffs on men's pants. During a search of the suspects, the left hind leg of a grasshopper was discovered in the cuff of one of the suspect's pants. This was the only part of the grasshopper that had not been recovered from the body, and the fracture marks matched perfectly. Despite the defense attorney's assertion that "grasshoppers always break their legs like that," the suspect was convicted of murder.
Prologue: Honolulu, 1984
2. The Bugs on the Body
3. The Pigs' Tale
4. The First Flies
5. Patterns of Succession
6. Cover-ups and Concealments
8. Air, Fire, and Water
9. Drugs and Toxins
12. Spreading the Word
Epilogue: Summing Up