Mind over Murder: DNA and other Forensic Adventures, by Jack Batten, hardcover (like new condition)
No one who has heard and read about the murder trial of O.J. Simpson can fail to be aware of the importance of forensic evidence in the case. Particularly prominent – and controversial – has been the issue of DNA, the latest in the arsenal of scientific weapons in the battle against crime.
But, although forensic science has been around since the days of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, even avid readers of mystery stories and true-crime narratives are usually unclear about the methods and skills employed by the forensic scientist. In addition, as those scientists become more ingenious, as the instruments they use grow more sophisticated, the means they come up with to track the perpetrators of crime begin to approach the kind of wonders found in science fiction.
Now Jack Batten, well-known for his popular books about the law, has set out to shed light on DNA and other pieces of magic that are regularly worked by scientists and their allies in the forensic field – both at the scenes of crimes and, later, in the laboratories. The route he takes to investigate each piece of forensic science is by way of a particular Canadian trial, and his guides on the route are the detectives, the prosecutors and defence attorneys, and the scientists who actually worked on the cases.
He considers the following: Ink analysis, which is used to examine two suspect lines in a police detective’s notebook; footprint casting and identification, which eventually convicts two armed robbers, even though the footprint was left in snow; stomach-content analysis, the controversial method by which time of death was estimated in the Steven Truscott case; forensic accounting, which finally traced and recovered money defrauded from the government of Trinidad, years after it was considered lost; and the analysis of blood, hair, semen, and DNA, which led to Johnny Terceira’s conviction for the murder of Andrea Atkinson. In an epilogue, he looks at recent advances in DNA analysis, as Guy Paul Morin is declared innocent of the murder of Christine Jessop.
In his immensely readable prose, he takes us along as the police and the scientists gather and analyse their evidence, as attorneys organize their cases, and as the various groups meet in court to seek out the truth.