Fiona's True Crime Book Reviews: E by author

Ellroy, James
My Dark Places

James Ellroy's trademark is his language--sometimes caustically funny, always brazen. When he's hitting on all cylinders, as he is in this book, his style makes punchy rhythms out of short sentences using lingo like "scoot" (dollar), "trim" (sex), and "brace" (to interrogate). But the premise for My Dark Places is what makes it cook: Ellroy goes back to his own childhood, to investigate the central mystery behind his obsession with violence against women--the death of his mother when he was 10 years old. It's hard to imagine a more psychologically treacherous, more self-exposing way in which to write about true crime. The New York Times calls it a "strenuously involving book . . . Early on, Mr. Ellroy makes a promise to his dead mother that seems maudlin at first: 'I want to give you breath.' But he's done just that and--on occasion-- taken ours away."

Colin Evans
The Casebook of Forensic Detection

Anyone can summarize a collection of cases, but not everyone can make them read well. With a flair for compressed narrative worthy of a good short story writer, Colin Evans entertains and instructs the reader with 100 cases that exemplify the use of 15 different forensic techniques (e.g., ballistics, fingerprinting). Some (like the Lindbergh case) are famous, others are barely known, yet each has some unique twist that sets it apart. Many "firsts" are included, such as the first murder conviction without a body, the first use of psychological profiling, and the first use of DNA typing. Evans also brings out the distinct (often flamboyant) personalities of the pioneering experts of forensics, and some of their more notable court room theatrics. Each case is labeled by name of criminal, forensic technique, date, location, and significant feature(s), making this a useful reference as well as a fun book to read.

[All reviews copyright ©, Inc. 1997-8]

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