Death. It’s not only inevitable and frightening, it’s intriguing and fascinating–especially today, when science continues to make ever more stunning advances in the investigation of the oldest and darkest of mysteries. To discover the how and why of death, unearth its roots, and expose the mechanics of its grim handiwork is, at least in some sense, to master it. And in the process, if a criminal can be caught or closure found, so much the better.
Enter Robert Mann, forensic anthropologist, deputy scientific director of the U.S. government’s Central Identification Laboratory, and, some might say, the Sherlock Holmes of death detectives. When the dead reveal some of their most sensational, macabre, and poignant tales, more often than not it’s Mann who’s been listening. Now, in this remarkable casebook, he offers an in-depth behind-the-scenes portrait of his sometimes gruesome, frequently dangerous, and always compelling profession. In cases around the world, Mann has been called upon to unmask killers with nothing but the bones of their victims to guide him, draw out clues that restore identities to the nameless dead, recover remains thought to be hopelessly lost, and piece together the events that can unlock the truth behind the most baffling deaths.
The infamous 9/11 terror attacks, which killed thousands; the unplanned killing that inaugurated serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer’s grisly spree; mysterious military fatalities from World War II to the Cold War to Vietnam, including the amazing case of the Vietnam War’s Unknown Soldier–all the fascinating stories are here, along with photos from the author’s personal files. Mystery hangings, mass graves, errant body parts, actual skeletons in closets, and a host of homicides steeped in bizarre clues and buried secrets–they’re all in a day’s work for one dedicated detective whose job begins when a life ends.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)|
About the Author
Robert Mann, Ph.D., has worked at the Central Identification Laboratory for nearly thirteen years. Dr. Mann completed more than thirty-five search-and-recovery missions around the world and participated in thirty-six joint forensic reviews in Hanoi and Cambodia, two in North Korea, and one in Latvia, where he examined remains suspected of being American MIAs. He received his Ph.D. in physical anthropology from the University of Hawaii and has written two books and more than ninety-five papers in the popular and scientific literature. Dr. Mann is one of only seventy-three scientists certified as a Diplomat of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.
Miryam Ehrlich Williamson is a former newspaper reporter and magazine writer. She is the author of a book on artificial intelligence, five books on health and longevity, and several published poems and short stories. Her work has won awards from the Associated Press and the American Medical Writers Association.
Read an Excerpt
1. FRAGMENTARY EVIDENCE JEFFREY DAHMER’S FIRST VICTIM
Excerpted from "Forensic Detective"
Copyright © 2007 Robert Mann.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dr. Mann's forensic's memoir is a very approachable and conversational collection of cases and events that have shaped his career. Currently stationed at the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL), in Honolulu, Hawaii, a good portion of the book centers on his case work identifying soldiers remains as their remains are found decades later.Even so, as Mann works through these anecdotes, there are high profile cases. There are the remains from Jeffrey Dahmer's boyhood home, the remains found inside a Poughkeepsie serial killer's home, the discovery of a missing young mother's remains and the very sobering call to duty when the CIL was flown in to identify victims of the 9/11 Pentagon attack. Despite the heavy material, Mann's style is airy and affable. There's an absolute respect for what he does, but he finds no reason to not make explaining his work enjoyable. That he can convey the passion he has for the tedious action of skeletal reconstruction is a testament to his skill as a storyteller. For anyone that is a fan of police procedural dramas or mysteries, this is a fine introductory non-fiction companion piece to the truth behind the fiction.
I was really interesting in this book. Began it, got about half way through, and realized I felt like I had already read it. I hadn't, it was just that after the first half, it just felt like the same thing over and over. I do think that Dr. Mann is brilliant, and if I die some horrible death and only my skeleton (or parts of it) are recovered, I want him to work on it. Fascinating, but only for so long.
Such a fascinating subject, a provacative title and an obvious expert on the subject = one flat, tedious read. Mann spends a lot of time singing accolades for his various mentors, too much. To use a cook's adage, there is too much filler in this meatloaf and very little meat. Because Mann has had involvement in several high profile cases, Dahmer, etc., I expected to learn more, to gain a better comprehension of the crimes from his experience and expertise, but none of that in this book. Forensic Detective offers only the most cursory glimpse of the actual crimes plus a long string of praises for people I wasn't reading the book to learn about. Maybe the higher IQed CSI audience - referred to on the cover - will better appreciate the lack of depth and TV commercial style in which it is written.