How long can someone survive in a cold, damp cave without food or water? How was diphtheria treated in 1886? Can Botox kill? Can DNA be found on a knife years later? How are mummified corpses identified? How long does it take blood to clot when spilled on a tile floor? What happens in death from electrocution?
As a consultant to many novelists around the world and to the writers of such popular TV shows as Monk, Law&Order, House, and CSI: Miami, D. P. Lyle, M.D., has answered many cool, clever, and oddball questions over the years. Forensics and Fiction: Clever, Intriguing, and Downright Odd Questions from Crime Writers is a collection of the best of these questions. The answers are provided in a concise and entertaining fashion that will keep you wide awake so you can read "just one more."
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About the Author
D. P. Lyle, M.D., is the Macavity Award-winning and Edgar Award-nominated author of the nonfiction books Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers, a compilation of the most interesting questions he has received over the years, and Forensics for Dummies, an in-depth look into the world of forensic science.
Dr. Lyle is a practicing cardiologist in Orange County, California, and has worked as a story and technical consultant with many published authors and with the writers and producers of several popular television shows, including Law&Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Cold Case, Peacemakers, House, Medium, and 1-800-Missing.
Doug Lyle, M.D., writes "The Doctor Is In" column for The March of Crime and Sleuthsayer, two newsletters for the Mystery Writers of America (Southern California and Southwestern chapters). He has practiced cardiology in Orange County, California, for the past 25 years.
Read an Excerpt
Forensics and Fiction
Part ITraumatic Injuries, Illnesses, Doctors, and HospitalsWhat Are the Symptoms and Signs of Bleeding to Death?Q: What would be the symptoms and visible signs of being bled to death? The situation in my story is a man being bled to death by way of blood transfusion tubes.Marion Arnott Paisley, Scotland Author of SleepwalkersA: Blood is a liquid filled with various cell types, one type being the red blood cells (RBCs). These contain hemoglobin, a molecule that carries oxygen (O2) from the lungs to the tissues and removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the tissues and transports it to the lungs, where it is exhaled with each breath. Bleeding, depending upon how rapid it is, leads to two basic derangements. One is a drop in blood pressure (BP), resulting in shock, and the other is the development of anemia, which is a low level of RBCs in the blood. The former is due to a rapid drop in the volume of the blood (think bleeding air from a tire--as you do, the pressure within the tire falls) and the latter is due to a loss of the blood cells that carry oxygen.In your scenario, if the blood is removed rapidly, the volume of blood in the victim's body falls, which causes a drop in BP, and results in shock and, if not treated appropriately and quickly, death. This is what happens when someone exsanguinates (bleeds to death) after an auto accident, a gunshot wound (GSW), or a rapidly bleeding ulcer. Depending upon the size of the person, the body contains from 8 to 12 pints of blood. The rapid loss of 3 or 4 pints would lead to shock in most people. So, if the blood were removed from your victim rapidly, his BP would fall and he would begin to show signs of shock.These signs and symptoms include shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, chills, thirst, and as it progresses, confusion, disorientation, sleepiness, coma, and death. This could happen over a few minutes or an hour or so, depending upon how rapidly the blood was removed.If the bleeding is slow (your villain removing a little blood each day) the person will become progressively anemic. In anemia the RBC count is low, so the ability of the blood to transport O2 to the body is reduced. Why? Less RBCs per ounce of blood means that each ounce of blood pumped by the heart carries less O2. This means the tissues receive less O2 and the symptoms of anemia reflect this reduction. They include shortness of breath (particularly with activity), fatigue, weakness, lethargy, headache, pallor (pale appearance), and chills. If your perpetrator bled your victim to death slowly, by removing blood little by little, these symptoms and signs would develop and progress as the anemia worsened. This could occur over many hours, days, or weeks.FORENSICS AND FICTION. Copyright © 2007 by D. P. Lyle, M.D. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fantastic resource for crime writers, or, it should be said, the criminal element. All sorts of easy to understand and fun explanations of how to kill off characters, how to conceal bodies, about decay and forensics of all sorts. Written in a chatty question and answer format, I can't recommend this book highly enough, whether you kill people in fiction or you just want to talk about it at family dinner parties.
Serial killers lack empathy, guilt, and the ability to show remorse.