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Forensics For Dummies

Forensics For Dummies

Douglas P. Lyle

ISBN: 978-0-764-55580-0

Apr 2004

384 pages


A plain-English primer on crime scene investigation that's a must for fans of CSI or Patricia Cornwell
Since the O. J. Simpson case, popular interest in forensic science has exploded: CBS's CSI has 16 to 26 million viewers every week, and Patricia Cornwell's novels featuring a medical examiner sleuth routinely top bestseller lists, to cite just a few examples. Now, everyone can get the lowdown on the science behind crime scene investigations. Using lots of fascinating case studies, forensics expert Dr. D. P. Lyle clues people in on everything from determining cause and time of death to fingerprints, fibers, blood, ballistics, forensic computing, and forensic psychology. With its clear, entertaining explanations of forensic procedures and techniques, this book will be an indispensable reference for mystery fans and true crime aficionados everywhere-and even includes advice for people interested in forensic science careers.
D. P. Lyle, MD (Laguna Hills, CA), is a practicing cardiologist who is also a forensics expert and mystery writer. He runs a Web site that answers writers' questions about forensics,, and is the author of Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Writers, as well as several mystery novels. John Pless, MD, is Professor Emeritus of Pathology at Indiana University School of Medicine and former President of the National Association of Medical Examiners.


Part I: Cracking Open the Case.

Chapter 1: Understanding the World of Forensics.

Chapter 2: Uncovering Who Does What When: The Forensics Team in Action.

Chapter 3: Working the Scene: Evidence Collection and Protection.

Chapter 4: Peering into the Criminal Mind.

Part II: Uncovering the Evidence.

Chapter 5: Fingerprints: Your Personal Signature.

Chapter 6: Those Messy Bloodstains.

Chapter 7: Making Good Impressions: Shoes, Tires, and Tools.

Chapter 8: The Burning Question: Is It Arson?

Part III: Looking at the Body.

Chapter 9: Determining the Hows and Whys of Death: Forensic Autopsies.

Chapter 10: Identifying John and Jane Doe.

Chapter 11: Estimating the Time of Death.

Chapter 12: Yeow! That Hurts: Traumatic Injuries and Deaths.

Chapter 13: Asphyxia: Where’s the Oxygen?

Part IV: Working in the Crime Lab.

Chapter 14: Working with Blood and Other Bodily Fluids: Serology.

Chapter 15: What’s the Deal with DNA?

Chapter 16: Finding Drugs and Poisons: The Toxicology Lab.

Chapter 17: Analyzing Trace Evidence.

Chapter 18: Going Ballistic: Analyzing Firearms Evidence.

Chapter 19: Questioning the Validity of Documents.

Part V: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 20: Ten Famous Forensic Cases.

Chapter 21: Ten Ways Hollywood Gets It Wrong.

Chapter 22: Ten Great Forensic Careers.


“…leaves you wondering how anyone ever manages to get away with any crime, let alone murder. Highly recommended...” (Fortean Times, March 2005)

“…fascinating reading…a must-have book…a superb introduction to a fascinating subject…” (Ripperologist, July 2004)