American Sherlock by Kate Winkler Dawson

Subtitle:  Murder, forensics, and the birth of crime scene investigation

Synopsis:  ‘Heinrich changed criminal investigations forever, and anyone fascinated by the myriad detective series and TV shows about forensics will want to read [this].’ The Washington Post

‘An entertaining, absorbing combination of biography and true crime.’ Kirkus

Berkeley, California, 1933. In a lab filled with curiosities – beakers, microscopes, Bunsen burners and hundreds of books – sat an investigator who would go on to crack at least 2,000 cases in his 40-year career.

Known as the ‘American Sherlock Holmes’, Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of the greatest – and first – forensic scientists, with an uncanny knack for finding clues, establishing evidence and deducing answers with a skill that seemed almost supernatural.

Based on years of research and thousands of never-before-published primary source materials, American Sherlock is a true-crime account capturing the life of the man who spearheaded the invention of a myriad of new forensic tools, including blood-spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence.

My thoughts: This book could have been oh-so-good if it wasn’t for a couple of things (note these might be corrected in a future edition) – the timeline becomes quite disjointed a few chapters in and there isn’t enough focus on Heinrich himself. A good editor would fix this quickly. The amount of information saved by the Heinrich family and given over to the university is amazing and I’d love to see a collection of his letters in chronological order. Heinrich’s influence on modern policing and the mundane but methodical crime investigations would be immeasurable as many of his techniques and ideas are still in use today – however I don’t believe he is the pioneer or spearhead of lie-detection tests!

Thank you to #NetGalley for this uncorrected proof.

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