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How to Solve a Murder: True Stories from a Life in Forensic Medicine

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Not the usual tools of trade, but for Chief Forensic Medical Scientist Derek and Forensic Secretary Pauline they were just part of a normal day in the office inside the world-famous Department of Forensic Medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London. Derek has played a pivotal role in investigating some of the UK’s most high-profile mass disasters and murder cases. Derek’s innovati Not the usual tools of trade, but for Chief Forensic Medical Scientist Derek and Forensic Secretary Pauline they were just part of a normal day in the office inside the world-famous Department of Forensic Medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London. Derek has played a pivotal role in investigating some of the UK’s most high-profile mass disasters and murder cases. Derek’s innovative work on murder cases, in particular, has seen him credited as a pioneer of forensic medical science, after developing ground-breaking techniques that make it easier to secure a conviction and also identify a serial killer.


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Not the usual tools of trade, but for Chief Forensic Medical Scientist Derek and Forensic Secretary Pauline they were just part of a normal day in the office inside the world-famous Department of Forensic Medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London. Derek has played a pivotal role in investigating some of the UK’s most high-profile mass disasters and murder cases. Derek’s innovati Not the usual tools of trade, but for Chief Forensic Medical Scientist Derek and Forensic Secretary Pauline they were just part of a normal day in the office inside the world-famous Department of Forensic Medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London. Derek has played a pivotal role in investigating some of the UK’s most high-profile mass disasters and murder cases. Derek’s innovative work on murder cases, in particular, has seen him credited as a pioneer of forensic medical science, after developing ground-breaking techniques that make it easier to secure a conviction and also identify a serial killer.

30 review for How to Solve a Murder: True Stories from a Life in Forensic Medicine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X would like a non-smear lippy for my mask

    The book is disjointed and only reflects the title in part. "How to Solve a Murder", that's why I got the book, that's what I wanted to read about, that's what all the hype was on. "True Stories from a Life in Forensic Medicine", the subtitle, suggests that the stories are going to be about forensic medicine, but just as many are about his life and his second wife's life. I didn't sign up for those. So the book is a combination of the author's life story, his career (about which he is not shy abo The book is disjointed and only reflects the title in part. "How to Solve a Murder", that's why I got the book, that's what I wanted to read about, that's what all the hype was on. "True Stories from a Life in Forensic Medicine", the subtitle, suggests that the stories are going to be about forensic medicine, but just as many are about his life and his second wife's life. I didn't sign up for those. So the book is a combination of the author's life story, his career (about which he is not shy about detailing all his many accomplishments, awards and praise) and his second wife's stories as a PA in the forensic field. The best chapters are those about forensics, not all of them about death, but all about crime. The worst are his co-author's. I really didn't care that she wore the shortest skirts, that men liked looking at her and wanted to date her, or that she wore stilettos.... I didn't care that she was a PA and was as brilliant and as high a flyer as her husband and co-author, in fact I didn't care about her at all. So 4 stars for the forensic chapters and 2 stars for all the rest. I think the ending really was the worst downer for me. All their children were of course mega bright and talented and interesting and now had got fantastic careers, I so didn't care about this. I couldn't have thought of a worse way of ending a book entitled, "How to Solve a Murder". 3.5 stars. Rounded down. ____________________ Notes on reading These forensic pathology books are so much more satisfying that the simplified tv shows where there is always one person who solves the case with an a-ha moment. They are also a lot more gruesome than the tv shows. So far, I've read about two decapitated people. One shot himself in the face, and one poor lady whose husband killed her and then put her head on a railway track. Plus acid baths and other things that would ruin your supper should you read while eating!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review 💀 A fascinating look behind the doors of the forensic scientist and the intuitive methods employed to determine method and cause of death. The best parts of this book were the analysis of different deaths and techniques used. It's often through sheer will, determination and a lot of hard work that results in a breakthrough in unexplained deaths, and I enjoyed seeing how this work came together to get the desired results. The ingenuity was facinating. ARC received in exchange for an honest review 💀 A fascinating look behind the doors of the forensic scientist and the intuitive methods employed to determine method and cause of death. The best parts of this book were the analysis of different deaths and techniques used. It's often through sheer will, determination and a lot of hard work that results in a breakthrough in unexplained deaths, and I enjoyed seeing how this work came together to get the desired results. The ingenuity was facinating. The book also draws on the terrible scenes and the worst of humanity pathologists and forensic staff see on a daily basis and how this can lead to PTSD and desensitizing horrific events. The subject matter is handled well in this instance, and on a professional level I could relate to a lot that was being said. I did sometimes get the two authors confused, as their narrative overlapped and sounded quite similar. I also wasn't that interested in the more biographical parts of the book. I didn't want to read about fashion, I wanted the science. It also grated on me that they mention (albeit very briefly, in parallels to another case they work on) the James Bulger case and actually refer to James by the wrong name. He was never known by his family as 'Jamie', and a quick Google search would have shown this. I'm hoping this will be corrected in the final copy, as I read an ARC. Collectively this was facinating, and I really liked the more scientific chapters. However, it sometimes strayed too much into personal stories and I found myself not as engaged through these parts. Still an insightful read for those interested in the forensic sciences.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This is an excellent audiobook, well read and wonderfully gruesome. Investigating the weirdly appealing world of forensic science, this book reveals the macabre to the mundane. It's surprising and often funny too. It's not just high profile cases, this is everyday stuff, and all the more fascinating for it. Who knew that a Guy's Hospital employee could collect a whole lower leg right from the operating table of another hospital and carry it across London on the tube? Who knew that a murderer cou This is an excellent audiobook, well read and wonderfully gruesome. Investigating the weirdly appealing world of forensic science, this book reveals the macabre to the mundane. It's surprising and often funny too. It's not just high profile cases, this is everyday stuff, and all the more fascinating for it. Who knew that a Guy's Hospital employee could collect a whole lower leg right from the operating table of another hospital and carry it across London on the tube? Who knew that a murderer could be caught out because gall stones don't get broken down by acid? If you already know this stuff, you're already strange, and maybe don't need this book. Otherwise, just THINK of all the brand new information you could learn.... Honestly, it's quite a bizarre experience. The narrator's voice is so soothing that it often put me to sleep, while the content is the shocking opposite. It's rather disconcerting to wake to detailed descriptions of body parts. But I recommend it nevertheless. ARC via Netgalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This was a very entertaining and interesting read that was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. I enjoy reading crime thrillers so it was interesting to read some of the real life things that go on in the real world of forensic medicine. Chief Forensic Medical Scientist Derek and Forensic Secretary Pauline Tremain tell everyday tales that many of us would find shocking and give us nightmares. Their normal working day deals with dead bodies and grotesque experiments and procedures that many of us This was a very entertaining and interesting read that was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. I enjoy reading crime thrillers so it was interesting to read some of the real life things that go on in the real world of forensic medicine. Chief Forensic Medical Scientist Derek and Forensic Secretary Pauline Tremain tell everyday tales that many of us would find shocking and give us nightmares. Their normal working day deals with dead bodies and grotesque experiments and procedures that many of us would find unbearable. Working at the world-famous Department of Forensic Medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London they tell some fascinating stories. They deal with sights that are very necessary but most of us would prefer not to, a fascinating job but not for me. This is a fascinating read dealing with many high profile accidents and murders and giving a very alternative insight into the world of forensics. This is well written and surprisingly a very easy to read book dealing with the investigations into what nightmares are made of. I would like to thank both Netgalley and Harper Collins for supplying a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ruthy lavin

    This is a fascinating book for anyone with an interest in forensic science, crime, or pathology. Some very interesting content and quite original in that it is written by 2 people, a husband and wife who both have broad knowledge of the subject. My only criticism would be that it is sometimes difficult to tell who is the narrator of each Chapter and I therefore found it confusing at times. It is worthy of 3.5 stars though.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    In the end, I was a little disappointed in How To Solve A Murder. It does give quite a good insight into the day-to-day reality of a Forensic Medicine department, but overall I found it rather unsatisfying. The book is written by Derek and Pauline Tremain, a married couple who have worked in forensic medicine all their careers; Derek firat as a technician and then Scientific Officer of increasing seniority and Pauline as a secretary and administrator (a surprisingly hands-on role). Between them, In the end, I was a little disappointed in How To Solve A Murder. It does give quite a good insight into the day-to-day reality of a Forensic Medicine department, but overall I found it rather unsatisfying. The book is written by Derek and Pauline Tremain, a married couple who have worked in forensic medicine all their careers; Derek firat as a technician and then Scientific Officer of increasing seniority and Pauline as a secretary and administrator (a surprisingly hands-on role). Between them, they have a wealth of experience and insight into what really goes on and the significance of it both to the justice system and to individuals affected by crimes. All this is very welcome, but the book did have some significant flaws. Probably most importantly, there isn’t really quiet enough solid science and detection in it. Derek refers several times to Prof. Keith Simpson and his book Forty Years Of Murder, which I read many years ago with great interest; I was hoping for something along similar lines, but I’m afraid I didn’t find this nearly so interesting. There are some very good passages, like Derek’s excellent explanation of the use of diatoms in cases of drowning, or Pauline’s account of some of the visits to crime scenes, but it all felt too diluted with personal anecdote, stories about larks in the lab and so on. While these do give a sense of how people dealt with the grisly things they had to work with, many of the stories aren’t as amusing as the authors think. For example, Pauline’s wardrobe malfunction or Derek’s disposal of a pig’s carcass may have seemed hilarious to those involved, but they aren’t nearly so funny to the rest of us and don’t merit the number of pages devoted to them. I also found the style a bit stilted and it is often difficult to know whether the narrator is Derek or Pauline as the voice shifts suddenly and without any signal, all of which interfered with my enjoyment. It is also worth saying that there isn’t much here about how murders are actually solved. Overall, it’s not bad, but I can only give this a qualified recommendation. (My thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC via NetGalley.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alannah Clarke

    Thank you to netgalley.co.uk for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'm a quite a crime junkie and this book just fascinated me, I felt like I was able to learn so much about how forensic science works through the eyes of two different positions, from a medical view and a secretarial views because it's obvious that both positions are just as important to get everything done in an efficient way. The book goes into brilliant detail without getting too gory Thank you to netgalley.co.uk for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'm a quite a crime junkie and this book just fascinated me, I felt like I was able to learn so much about how forensic science works through the eyes of two different positions, from a medical view and a secretarial views because it's obvious that both positions are just as important to get everything done in an efficient way. The book goes into brilliant detail without getting too gory and putting me off. A wonderful book that I would strongly recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    I had the opportunity to read this book (via netgalley) to give an honest review. With thanks to the publishers and authors, my thoughts: Ever wondered what it would be like to work in forensics? Where post mortems, body parts, gruesome crime and the quest for justice are the orders of the day? ‘How to Solve a Murder’ is a perfect delve into this macabre world. The field of forensic science is so interesting and this book definitely reflects and captures all the ups and downs and the ins and outs I had the opportunity to read this book (via netgalley) to give an honest review. With thanks to the publishers and authors, my thoughts: Ever wondered what it would be like to work in forensics? Where post mortems, body parts, gruesome crime and the quest for justice are the orders of the day? ‘How to Solve a Murder’ is a perfect delve into this macabre world. The field of forensic science is so interesting and this book definitely reflects and captures all the ups and downs and the ins and outs of the job. It’s also wonderfully narrated and makes for very easy listening. It was one of those audiobooks that you can easily slide into, and it almost feels like a chat with a couple of forensic scientist friends who are telling you their stories and all about their lives. It was a perfect mix between the authors own life experiences, to case studies to the science that aids them in their jobs. I love that it started with the very beginnings of their careers and how the spark for their current field grew into eventually, how they became experts in their areas. (Body-mapping - so interesting!!) Constantly throughout the book there are snippets of forensic insights and practices as well as different cases. I absolutely loved hearing about their experiences and tales and I devoured this book with eager ears! It was so funny in parts too, I was laughing out loud and loved hearing about some of the things they’ve gone through - both the good and the bad. It was especially nice hearing about the pranks and lighthearted banter they used to keep the morale up, and learn to cope in what can be a very harrowing and difficult workplace. That sort of insight into a tough job was a nice addition. It was more of a personal account of the authors lives than a cut and dry explanation of what forensics can do and I really enjoyed it from this aspect. The whole thing was just so compelling (and they really didn’t shy away from the gory, so those who don’t want to hear about blood, guts and maggots - beware!). But it was written well and for the most part, I wasn’t put off my dinner! All in all, a fab book. Hearing about the authors lives was so interesting and I thought it was brilliant!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Faichney

    I listened to the audiobook narrated by John Sackville and Kim Hicks.  "How To Solve A Murder" is a misleading title for what is, in many places, a self-indulgent memoir. As a rule, I don't like these behind-the-scenes, tell all accounts because they're invariably disrespectful to the clients (in this case, the dead - which is even worse) and they smack of self-satisfied superiority. Had I known that's what this was, I wouldn't have volunteered to read and review it.  I don't read books about Fore I listened to the audiobook narrated by John Sackville and Kim Hicks.  "How To Solve A Murder" is a misleading title for what is, in many places, a self-indulgent memoir. As a rule, I don't like these behind-the-scenes, tell all accounts because they're invariably disrespectful to the clients (in this case, the dead - which is even worse) and they smack of self-satisfied superiority. Had I known that's what this was, I wouldn't have volunteered to read and review it.  I don't read books about Forensics to find out about fashion. I certainly don't want to hear Pauline banging on (repeatedly, and at length) about how "distracting" it was for the men that she wore short skirts and high heels to work. Ditto the wardrobe malfunction. It's vulgar, unnecessary and makes professional women sound like airheads. I found Derek's descriptions of forensic processes, and the impact of certain incidents on the emotions of the team, interesting and insightful. What a shame that it's mixed in with all the drivel. 

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was a audiobook for me and I felt like it dragged right at the beginning and then took off like a rocket. The narrators were John Sackville and Kim Hicks. They did a good job. I work in pathology and I’m a certified Histotechnian. I’ve assisted in autopsies and found everything in this book interesting. Of course I could follow everything going on because of my line of work. So I’m sure I can’t speak for everyone but I really liked this book. Things I learned about in this book: • How Death This was a audiobook for me and I felt like it dragged right at the beginning and then took off like a rocket. The narrators were John Sackville and Kim Hicks. They did a good job. I work in pathology and I’m a certified Histotechnian. I’ve assisted in autopsies and found everything in this book interesting. Of course I could follow everything going on because of my line of work. So I’m sure I can’t speak for everyone but I really liked this book. Things I learned about in this book: • How Death by drowning is determined • What Death by misadventure is. • Mass disaster deaths and the effects it has on the medical team. • The smell of death and how it stays with you. • Forensic imaging started for court cases. Thank you HarperCollins UK audio for this audiobook. I’m voluntarily leaving my review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Natalie "Curling up with a Coffee and a Kindle" Rampling

    Bemused. Confused. As a massive true crime fan, this was right up my street! I only downloaded it initially to participate in a NetGalley Shelf app test, but nevertheless I was really looking forward to it. I assumed it would be about 'how to solve a murder' i.e. take a crime scene, explain the background of the murder victim, the suspect, then go through the forensic evidence found and analyse it all until you have solved the murder. Not unrealistic is it, based on the title? Well, here comes the Bemused. Confused. As a massive true crime fan, this was right up my street! I only downloaded it initially to participate in a NetGalley Shelf app test, but nevertheless I was really looking forward to it. I assumed it would be about 'how to solve a murder' i.e. take a crime scene, explain the background of the murder victim, the suspect, then go through the forensic evidence found and analyse it all until you have solved the murder. Not unrealistic is it, based on the title? Well, here comes the confusion. The book read like an autobiography of the author and his wife, and not a very interesting one at that. The book was full of anecdotes about the staff, participating in drug trials, and other stories. They might as well have called the book 'A Life of a forensic scientist' and not even mention solving murders. There was very little actual substance of solving murders at all, although those small parts were actually very interesting. The narrator was well suited to telling the story, although whether it was him or the subject matter, I wasn't engaged for a lot of his speeches. A real shame, it had lots of potential.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Skyesmum

    Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this! I loved listening to the past experiences of both. A few made me smile, especially the leg in the bag! Lots made me wince, but most just stopped me in my tracks and listen and marvel at what our bodies can show. Absolutely fascinating

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becky Burton995

    Found this quite a hard read. It is written by two people and it is hard to keep track of who is writing at what point as it isn't specified. The content of the book is good and I did enjoy it, it is just confusing at times Found this quite a hard read. It is written by two people and it is hard to keep track of who is writing at what point as it isn't specified. The content of the book is good and I did enjoy it, it is just confusing at times

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (The Book Geek Boutique)

    I am a huge fan of true crime books especially told from the perspective of the people solving those crimes so I was very interested in learning more about the experts in their field. Unfortunately this was not that type of book. Instead it was a memoir of how two people met in a lab and fell in a love with an occasional insight into how a pathologist would boil a skull or test for human matter as evidence for a case. Told in two perspectives, Derek, a forensic medical scientist and Pauline, a fo I am a huge fan of true crime books especially told from the perspective of the people solving those crimes so I was very interested in learning more about the experts in their field. Unfortunately this was not that type of book. Instead it was a memoir of how two people met in a lab and fell in a love with an occasional insight into how a pathologist would boil a skull or test for human matter as evidence for a case. Told in two perspectives, Derek, a forensic medical scientist and Pauline, a forensic secretary. I could see that they were trying to invoke a more personable response from the reader by showing the real lives of these people that do such testing work but I struggled to invest with Pauline's sections and found them quite cold and reserved. Derek was a little better but some of the science went over my head. I was expecting more information from real life cases but it was really focused on the relationship between the two and that wasn't a big draw for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Craig Maxwell

    The title of this book had me SO excited to read this! I love anything to do with true crime, and especially those who have actually worked behind the scenes in this niche job as most people could never do this sort of job so it’s so intriguing to read about. There all some real stand out parts of this book, some real interesting facts when doing post-mortems that are genuinely fascinating. If your expecting lots of case by case stories like I was I think you will be disappointed unfortunately. Th The title of this book had me SO excited to read this! I love anything to do with true crime, and especially those who have actually worked behind the scenes in this niche job as most people could never do this sort of job so it’s so intriguing to read about. There all some real stand out parts of this book, some real interesting facts when doing post-mortems that are genuinely fascinating. If your expecting lots of case by case stories like I was I think you will be disappointed unfortunately. The title of the book gave me the expectations that we would be following several cases, going really in depth alluding to the title. There is glimpses of this, however it’s overshadowed by random tangents. “How to Solve a Murder” reads like two books in one. One half reads like fiction the other non-fiction. I think the execution would’ve been stronger if just one angle had been picked. The book is all about Derek and Pauline’s careers, these sections read like fiction. It reads like the authors going off on a tangent at a dinner table after a few wines and everyone is lost and a little bored. I did enjoy but I wish there was more actually real life experiences about “How to Solve a Murder”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Very interesting account from a couple of forensic scientists. I really enjoyed their stories (please note I'm not squeamish). My only 'complaint' and it's not even really one is that the narrators (I had the audiobook) were almost too good at narrating this, I kept forgetting that this wasn't a fictional story but a real one. Would recommend if you are interested in forensic science. Thank you to NetGalley for giving me access to an audio review copy. Very interesting account from a couple of forensic scientists. I really enjoyed their stories (please note I'm not squeamish). My only 'complaint' and it's not even really one is that the narrators (I had the audiobook) were almost too good at narrating this, I kept forgetting that this wasn't a fictional story but a real one. Would recommend if you are interested in forensic science. Thank you to NetGalley for giving me access to an audio review copy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maisie

    I received an audio ARC of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. "How to Solve a Murder" is an interesting set of anecdotes spanning several decades of the authors' work in the forensic science field (and associated areas). It includes their respective paths into these careers and their notable contributions to the subject such as diatoms, the National Injuries Database, and body mapping. Similarly to "Unnatural Causes" by Dr Richard Shephere (who, having worked with Derek Tre I received an audio ARC of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. "How to Solve a Murder" is an interesting set of anecdotes spanning several decades of the authors' work in the forensic science field (and associated areas). It includes their respective paths into these careers and their notable contributions to the subject such as diatoms, the National Injuries Database, and body mapping. Similarly to "Unnatural Causes" by Dr Richard Shephere (who, having worked with Derek Tremain, provided the foreword to this book), there are some personal anecdotes mixed within the professional; for instance, how the authors met and got married. Although I was primarily interested in this title for the science I did appreciate how these stories reflected the reality of life as a person working in forensics. I also found Pauline Tremain's perspective interesting - we often think of the people directly involved in the forensics, but I don't think many of us consider what it would be like to be the person taking notes and doing other administrative tasks! The narration and sound quality of this audiobook were both good, making it easy to follow even without my full attention. I do think the title of this book is a little misleading; although the techniques used to gather the evidence needed to support murder investigations is discussed, I think it's worth noting that the content isn't completely focused on murder, nor does it follow the process of a murder being committed to it being solved (and prosecuted) in full as the title may suggest. I also found some parts of the book repetitive or strangely paced. That being said, I did think that this book was interesting and didn't have to force myself to keep listening. I would recommend that anyone with an interest in hearing a realistic first hand account of life in forensic science gives it a try. Content warnings: death (including child death), murder, suicide, sexual assault (including CSA), descriptions of injuries, blood, graphic descriptions of autopsies and other postmortem investigations.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anjana

    It will be strange to say that a book about forensic medicine was soothing to listen to. Even at 1.5x, the narrators sounded calm and methodical and set the tone for the narrative. This is a story of two people in the forensic industry who have been worked with, been involved in, and even changed a few things about how crime scenes are analysed for decades. It was fascinating to hear about how both of them ended up working in forensic labs through different avenues. It was a throwback to another It will be strange to say that a book about forensic medicine was soothing to listen to. Even at 1.5x, the narrators sounded calm and methodical and set the tone for the narrative. This is a story of two people in the forensic industry who have been worked with, been involved in, and even changed a few things about how crime scenes are analysed for decades. It was fascinating to hear about how both of them ended up working in forensic labs through different avenues. It was a throwback to another time and place. They discuss a few cases and their personal lives, but for the most part, the book is about the processes, the science and the smaller titbits that go with investigations. I enjoyed the beginning parts a lot, but my interest petered out towards the end because I saw the narrative coming to an end. I felt like I wanted 'more'. What part I wanted more of I cannot say exactly, but there was something. The authors did a pretty good job in making their working lives and knowledge clear in the pages, and the narrators did an equally great job in conveying the information to me, the audience. If there was to be another book by the authors with further details and maybe more case histories, I would definitely pick it up. I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own listening experience.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bookswithacuppa

    I love all things true crime and I’m fascinated by forensic science and pathology. Ever since I was 8, I wanted to be a forensic pathologist - alas life took a different turn. However, this book was a wonderful insight to the world of forensic science. I really enjoyed how it was written; I felt both authors personalities shone through their story telling. I could sense Derek’s genuine warmth, likability and humour, along with Pauline’s ambition and determination. I feel the personal touch reall I love all things true crime and I’m fascinated by forensic science and pathology. Ever since I was 8, I wanted to be a forensic pathologist - alas life took a different turn. However, this book was a wonderful insight to the world of forensic science. I really enjoyed how it was written; I felt both authors personalities shone through their story telling. I could sense Derek’s genuine warmth, likability and humour, along with Pauline’s ambition and determination. I feel the personal touch really added to the book for me, and accompanied the academic side and details in cases rather well. It made it real and human; I feel it could have been rather clinical without this (which I wouldn’t have had an issue with either). It was told in chronological order and you witnessed how science and methods have advanced and the cases they worked on were just fascinating. The title probably could be a little misleading to some, but to me the book was well written and immersed you in the world of forensic science in an informal and welcoming way. Genuinely enjoyed this, thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate Henderson

    **listened via audiobook** This book felt completely up my street. I love all things crime, and forensics fascinate me! I was surprised to find that a lot of the book talks about my local area, so immediately I was engaged. However, the more the book went on the more I lost interest. I'm unsure whether it was the audiobook narrators that felt a little lack-lustre or the writing itself. I was expecting more exciting cases, and insights but this just didn't happen. Maybe, I went into the book with **listened via audiobook** This book felt completely up my street. I love all things crime, and forensics fascinate me! I was surprised to find that a lot of the book talks about my local area, so immediately I was engaged. However, the more the book went on the more I lost interest. I'm unsure whether it was the audiobook narrators that felt a little lack-lustre or the writing itself. I was expecting more exciting cases, and insights but this just didn't happen. Maybe, I went into the book with wrong ideas but based on the title and based on other books I have read similar to this - I just was left a little bored and wanting more.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Orman

    I really enjoyed the content of the book and found their work intriguing and detailed however the dual narrative didn't work for me. I was often left wondering who was now talking and at times this was frustrating. I will still recommend this book to my friends with an interest in forensics as this is still a very good read despite my opinion of the narrative points of view. I really enjoyed the content of the book and found their work intriguing and detailed however the dual narrative didn't work for me. I was often left wondering who was now talking and at times this was frustrating. I will still recommend this book to my friends with an interest in forensics as this is still a very good read despite my opinion of the narrative points of view.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Claudia George

    I did not finish this audiobook. The cover, title and blurb all promise a fascinating and insightful look into the goings-on of a pathology lab, and it definitely feels like it's aimed at true crime fans. However, the resulting audiobook is a tale of how two people met in a setting that apparently deals with dead bodies and murder victims, although the listener hardly ever hears about them. I was left bored and unsatisfied. Pauline's sections are especially difficult, and the narrator has a cold I did not finish this audiobook. The cover, title and blurb all promise a fascinating and insightful look into the goings-on of a pathology lab, and it definitely feels like it's aimed at true crime fans. However, the resulting audiobook is a tale of how two people met in a setting that apparently deals with dead bodies and murder victims, although the listener hardly ever hears about them. I was left bored and unsatisfied. Pauline's sections are especially difficult, and the narrator has a cold edge to her tone that almost comes across as superior and is, frankly, unlistenable. I had high expectations for this audiobook but unfortunately it missed the mark.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maxine

    This audio book was something unusual, so I was very keen to listen to it. I would suggest that it wouldn't be appropriate to listen to in the presence of small children, or for those of a delicate disposition. I enjoyed it. It was penned by a husband and wife team with considerable experience in the forensic field. We learn how they got into their careers, and what fascinated them about the subject. I enjoyed learning about how things can be discovered in the event of a crime, and how science is This audio book was something unusual, so I was very keen to listen to it. I would suggest that it wouldn't be appropriate to listen to in the presence of small children, or for those of a delicate disposition. I enjoyed it. It was penned by a husband and wife team with considerable experience in the forensic field. We learn how they got into their careers, and what fascinated them about the subject. I enjoyed learning about how things can be discovered in the event of a crime, and how science is growing and developing to help us learn more. It is a really interesting subject, and there is humour in there too- not many people get to carry a leg on the tube! All in all I thought this was a well narrated audiobook, which I loved, but it wouldn't be for everyone.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Helen French

    This is a fascinating story of a married couple's individual (and eventually merging) careers in forensic science. It is not really information on 'how to solve a murder', so if you are expecting tales of hunting down serial killers, you may be disappointed, though certainly lots of crimes are resolved along the way. The book is more anecdotal, beginning with Derek starting work at 15 (!) in a medical museum, which takes him down a path of becoming a scientist, an expert on drowning analysis, wou This is a fascinating story of a married couple's individual (and eventually merging) careers in forensic science. It is not really information on 'how to solve a murder', so if you are expecting tales of hunting down serial killers, you may be disappointed, though certainly lots of crimes are resolved along the way. The book is more anecdotal, beginning with Derek starting work at 15 (!) in a medical museum, which takes him down a path of becoming a scientist, an expert on drowning analysis, wound pattern matching and body mapping. Pauline starts off as a medical secretary and does spend a bit of time telling us about her short skirts and heels as well as the forensic cases she takes note on. But it's interesting, and it's real life during a period where computing was at its infancy - imagine being at the forefront of all that technology at the time! The Tremains were instrumental in creating evidence databases and evolving digital/graphical body mapping. They also share a lot of experiences where their work helped secure a case against murderers/criminals. It wasn't 100% the book I was expecting, but I'm glad I read it all the same.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Leivesley

    This is a fascinating look into the life of a forensic scientist. I have to say that I really admire Derek Tremain, who left school with no qualifications and yet has become on of the countries leading forensic scientists. His wife, Pauline, started as a secretary and is now a respected forensic graphic artist. Both have done amazing, groundbreaking work in their field. I found the book interesting, especially the first part. It was informative, sometimes very gruesome, but with plenty of light h This is a fascinating look into the life of a forensic scientist. I have to say that I really admire Derek Tremain, who left school with no qualifications and yet has become on of the countries leading forensic scientists. His wife, Pauline, started as a secretary and is now a respected forensic graphic artist. Both have done amazing, groundbreaking work in their field. I found the book interesting, especially the first part. It was informative, sometimes very gruesome, but with plenty of light hearted moments too. I do feel that the title is slightly misleading as I expected more about famous murder cases, but most of the cases mentioned were quite run of the mill. I guess that's true to life though. Most cases are run of the mill and the more spectacular serial killer cases only come around occasionally. All in all a good listen, and I thought the narrators did a great job and helped me picture the two authors in their day to day lives.

  26. 5 out of 5

    zoe Hitchen

    I enjoyed listening to how to solve a murder. Learning about the lives of Derek and Pauline was very educational as well as interesting. There were some gruesome parts of the book which are to be expected with the subject matter but this did not detract from the enjoyment of this book. It’s amazing what can be proven by forensic science and learning about its theory and application makes for an absorbing read. There are some funny moments , which lighten the mood and I would imagine in this line of I enjoyed listening to how to solve a murder. Learning about the lives of Derek and Pauline was very educational as well as interesting. There were some gruesome parts of the book which are to be expected with the subject matter but this did not detract from the enjoyment of this book. It’s amazing what can be proven by forensic science and learning about its theory and application makes for an absorbing read. There are some funny moments , which lighten the mood and I would imagine in this line of work the mood needs to be lightened at times. A great personal insight to the world of forensic science . A great book! Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Audio uk for this advance copy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kasey

    I should have known that with an introduction from Richard Shepherd that this book would be one long blowing of ones own trumpet. I dont know what it is but forensic pathology seems to employ a lot of ego maniacs! The one chapter i thoroughly enjoyed was the chapter on drowning and I wish the entire book was written as passionately and straight forward as this chapter. The narrative style was more distracting than anything else and it was always unclear who was the narrator.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mazmum

    How to Solve a Murder as a title gives a distinct impression that this is what the majority of the book is about. In truth, it's in the main about one man's career, that involves taking bodies apart for analysis but not always in the name of murder. There is also a shift later in his career and again this new role is partly used for helping solve murders but also in part for solving other crimes where the victim is still alive. It was interesting to hear what went on inside those walls and the te How to Solve a Murder as a title gives a distinct impression that this is what the majority of the book is about. In truth, it's in the main about one man's career, that involves taking bodies apart for analysis but not always in the name of murder. There is also a shift later in his career and again this new role is partly used for helping solve murders but also in part for solving other crimes where the victim is still alive. It was interesting to hear what went on inside those walls and the techniques that he helped to bring on board. I didn't find any of it particularly gruesome although I do wonder how the families of the victims would view knowing their relatives were reduced down to bones in order to best understand what had happened to them. My main issues with this book were the inclusion of the wife's story - lots of talk about how she would wear the latest fashion etc and I never felt like she actually accomplished much. The other was the drift from one individual talking to another. At times it was hard to work out which of them was telling the next bit of the story, especially as her career evolved. I think I did work out that really this was about 80/20 split his story/her story. Lastly, I still have issues with the title. I think a lot of people like me, would perhaps expect to read more details about the various crimes either before they got to the mortuary or after but these were tied up with pretty much one or two lines. And a lot of the book wasn't about murder cases. I still think it's an interesting book but I would look to give it a different title if I were the publishers. It's effectively a story of a couple who work together around dead bodies - Something like Our Life with the Dead might have been more of an accurate title.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Thea | (unapologetic_bibliosmia)

    Here's the bits I liked about this book: The middle 60% of this book was great. There were chapters on dissolving body parts; how to identify drowning has occurred (not just water in the lungs it turns out!); how to identify a heart attack has occurred; medical experiments; skin pattern analysis for bruising; understanding the path of a bullet etc etc. These were brilliant insights into forensic pathology and I really enjoyed reading them. I actually learned quite a few things, and the process f Here's the bits I liked about this book: The middle 60% of this book was great. There were chapters on dissolving body parts; how to identify drowning has occurred (not just water in the lungs it turns out!); how to identify a heart attack has occurred; medical experiments; skin pattern analysis for bruising; understanding the path of a bullet etc etc. These were brilliant insights into forensic pathology and I really enjoyed reading them. I actually learned quite a few things, and the process fascinated me in a number of ways. Bits I didn't like so much: The first 30% of the book. I found this boring, and wasn't really anything to do with solving murders or forensics. It felt very much like a biography and I'm not really into biographies even of famous people, but even more so of people I don't know. There were parts dedicated to how they got their jobs, (him and his wife) and whilst it was semi relevant for Derek, this was absolutely odd to read about his wife. This brings me on to my second niggle. The narrative switches every now and again from Derek (who we are to assume is the narrator after talking us through his joining the forensic team) to his (now) wife Pauline with absolutely no indication that this has happened. It happens mid chapter, mid paragraph in some instances without warning, introduction or any introduction whatsoever. It's absolutely confusing and it took me ages to realise it had happened I was just thoroughly confused. It then switches back again with no indication, no chapter headings to show who is speaking, no obvious switch and so on and so on, literally mid chapter and back and back again etc and I cannot work out why. I'll be honest, a couples biography felt a bit weird and the introduction to how Pauline got her job and her wearing short skirts and heels etc personally wasn't for me and didn't suit the topic of the book. If they really wanted to include these elements this should have been split into chapters with a clear indication at the top of the chapter whether Pauline or Derek recounting. This would have been less confusing to read. The last 10% of the book felt like a hard sell for a product /service that the authors currently provide in their current real life. Whilst it began interesting, learning about image mapping and portrayal at court rooms etc, it got a bit tedious and felt like an advert when it went on and on. Too much of the book was devoted to this and whilst it's clear there are personal feelings involved in the subsequent copying of their services by other teams, this for me went into far too much nitty gritty and could have been discussed in a couple of pages. 3 acid bathed cadaver stars from me. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. My thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Thanks to the authors, publisher and NetGalley UK for the opportunity to read this in advance of publication. As a big fan of detective novels and forensic TV shows like CSI and Bones, I was looking forward to reading this real life perspective. Book wise this is more in the line of career memoirs of the likes of This Is Going to Hurt, The Secret Barrister and The Prison Doctor. Unfortunately the career stories often seem a bit disjointed or surface level. This is possibly because it covers the c Thanks to the authors, publisher and NetGalley UK for the opportunity to read this in advance of publication. As a big fan of detective novels and forensic TV shows like CSI and Bones, I was looking forward to reading this real life perspective. Book wise this is more in the line of career memoirs of the likes of This Is Going to Hurt, The Secret Barrister and The Prison Doctor. Unfortunately the career stories often seem a bit disjointed or surface level. This is possibly because it covers the careers of two people. While they both worked i St Guy’s Derek’s stories are more hands on as he worked his way up from a 15-year-old museum technicians to developing procedures and experiments to further forensic medical science. Pauline’s stories are more observational as she worked taking dictation on site from pathologists as they carried out examinations of bodies. The most fascinating prt of the book were Derek’s chapters giving a more indepth insight into developing weapon/injury overlay techniques and how he’d applied them in specific cases, learning and developing as a result. I would have preferred a book that focussed on this element more. If you’re fascinated by forensics and want to read something which is at an appropriate level for laypeople this has much to offer. But, be prepared for frustration at some of the lack of detail and the surface level stories which don’t go anywhere. It falls short of being a really gripping insight into how a murder is actually solved forensically or of being an insight into the people who work in this field ending up a slightly dissatisfying amalgam of the two.

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