The Nature of Life and Death: Every Body Leaves a Trace

The Nature of Life and Death: Every Body Leaves a Trace

by Patricia Wiltshire


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A riveting blend of science writing and true-crime narrative that explores the valuable but often shocking interface between crime and nature—and the secrets each can reveal about the other—from a pioneer in forensic ecology and a trailblazing female scientist.

From mud tracks on a quiet country road to dirt specks on the soles of walking boots, forensic ecologist Patricia Wiltshire uses her decades of scientific expertise to find often-overlooked clues left behind by criminal activity. She detects evidence and eliminates hypotheses armed with little more than a microscope, eventually developing a compelling thesis of the who, what, how, and when of a crime. Wiltshire's remarkable accuracy has made her one of the most in-demand police consultants in the world, and her curiosity, humility, and passion for the truth have guided her every step of the way.

A riveting blend of science writing and true-crime narrative, The Nature of Life and Death details Wiltshire's unique journey from college professor to crime fighter: solving murders, locating corpses, and exonerating the falsely accused. Along the way, she introduces us to the unseen world all around us and underneath our feet: plants, animals, pollen, spores, fungi, and microbes that we move through every day. Her story is a testament to the power of persistence and reveals how our relationship with the vast natural world reaches far deeper than we might think.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525542216
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 59,329
Product dimensions: 6.18(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

Professor Patricia Wiltshire is a forensic ecologist, botanist, and palynologist, and also has a background in environmental archaeology. She has worked with every police force in the United Kingdom, and on many high-profile cases. She regularly lectures at conferences and scientific meetings all over the world, and is active in research and publishing, as well as university teaching. Wiltshire is an experienced expert witness for both the prosecution and defense, and is a registered expert with the National Crime Agency. She is a fellow of the Chartered Society of Forensic Science, the Royal Society of Biology, and the Linnean Society.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Beginnings 1

Chapter 2 Searching and Finding 15

Chapter 3 Proxies of the Past 34

Chapter 4 Under the Surface 58

Chapter 5 Conflict and Resolution 75

Chapter 6 "I put it to you that you were there." 95

Chapter 7 A Spider's Web 123

Chapter 8 Beauty in Death 148

Chapter 9 Friends and Foes 170

Chapter 10 Last Breaths 187

Chapter 11 "An Empty Vessel" 208

Chapter 12 Poisons 226

Chapter 13 Traces 250

Chapter 14 Endings 274

Acknowledgments 289

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