A is for Autopsy
November 16, 2013 4:39 AM   Subscribe

My soon-to-be-17-year-old niece is interested in pursuing forensic science as a career. What are the best books on the subject that would both entertain and inform her? Fiction and non-fiction suggestions are welcome.
posted by Paris Elk to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I really enjoyed Dead Men Do Tell Tales.
posted by veggieboy at 5:03 AM on November 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Poisoners Handbook is a good read. Mixture of different methods used in the past for murder vs. early efforts by the first Medical Examiner in NYC to catch them.
posted by Captain_Science at 5:09 AM on November 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Patricia Cornwall is the author of an entire series of novels featuring Kay Scarpetta, M.D. as the heroine.

One of the basic books in this field is Spitz's Medicolegal Investigation of Death.
posted by yclipse at 5:17 AM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach - well written and entertaining.
posted by pyro979 at 5:20 AM on November 16, 2013 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Kathy Reichs, a real-life forensic anthropologist, has written nineteen novels about a fictional forensic anthropologist. I found the couple I read a bit graphic for my tastes, honestly, but I'm squeamish about things like bodily decomposition and presumably your niece is not.

Reichs' novels were also the inspiration for the tv show Bones.
posted by Georgina at 6:02 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Corpse is another fun nonfiction book (if you think decomp is fun).
posted by oinopaponton at 6:33 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Stiff is about dead bodies generally (burial options, etc.) but has chapters on forensic science and is hugely readable and about as amusing as dead bodies get.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:48 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jefferson Bass is a pseudonym of Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Bass is the Body Farm guy, Jefferson is a writer. They write compelling fiction about forensic science type mysteries. She might also enjoy The Murder Room (that one, not the PD James mystery) which is a non-fiction book about a bunch of amateurish cold case solvers that have a very high crime solving rate.

I found the couple I read a bit graphic for my tastes, honestly

I was the same way. I'm actually fine with the nitty gritty stuff about dealing with cadavers, but the mysteries themselves are a little on the sensational side, so depends what you are into. Another good book is Bones: A Forensic Detective's Casebook which my sister read while getting her Criminal Justice MS (she now works at a crime lab but is more of a manager type than a scientist type).
posted by jessamyn at 12:02 PM on November 16, 2013

The Bone Woman is about a forensic anthropologist, but I highly recommend it. It is interesting, informative and moving.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 12:03 PM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin.
Historical mystery fiction revolving around a strong female doctor who uses Sherlock-type logic and forensic science to solve mysteries. A little romance too. My grandfather was a rather picky (judgmental) former English teacher whose favourite book was To Kill a Mockingbird. This was his second favourite! I wouldn't have read it if he hadn't have kept giving me copies, it's not usually my thing - but I eventually did, and it was good.

Warning: M-rated. The first book revolves around several children who were kidnapped, sexually abused, and murdered, just fyi. But then, this is part of being in forensic science too - she will see some awful things over the course of her career.

Has she been watching the new Sherlock series being made by the BBC? I love Molly... =)
posted by jrobin276 at 4:38 PM on November 16, 2013

Alane Ferguson actually has a series of forensic mysteries with a 17 year old female protagonist - think Nancy Drew by way of CSI. Her father is the county coroner and she talks him into taking her on as his assistant, which sets the plot in motion. Obviously not fact-based, but still fun. The series is called the Forensic Mysteries and the first book is The Christopher Killer.
posted by clerestory at 7:01 PM on November 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who answered. I marked a few as "best," but all your recommendations will come in handy for Christmas and my niece's birthday. And I may read a few of these myself!
posted by Paris Elk at 9:42 AM on December 1, 2013

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