FORENSIC DETECTIVE
Robert Mann

 


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Allen & Unwin, May 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

The sub-title for this book is “How I Cracked the World’s Toughest Case,” and that is exactly what author, Robert Mann reveals to us. Mann is a forensic anthropologist, and his job is to listen to the stories that dead bodies have to tell him. As he relates each case, he gives us an idea of a profession which is grisly, shocking, yet absolutely fascinating. A day’s work can consist of anything from a mass grave, to hidden skeletons with long buried secrets. Mann’s job is to uncover those secrets, follow the clues and solve the mystery. He remarks in passing that some have called him the corpse whisperer. Some of the twenty amazing cases that he shares with us are the identification of an unknown soldier in Vietnam; solving a murder when the only body part he was given was a leg; and another when all he had was a skeleton hanging from a tree in Florida.

Despite its gruesome topic, the stories are very readable, and the author’s humour shines through. A couple of flippant remarks here and there lighten the horror of what you are reading; he is very entertaining and interesting. The book is not a dry medical tome – far from it. You are drawn into the mystery of each seemingly hopeless case, as Mann discovers the clues to how each victim died, who they are, and then who, or what, caused the death. There are pictures as well, nothing too horrific, to illustrate some of the clues and background of the victims. I enjoyed the book, and found the peep into the real life of Robert Mann to be totally absorbing.

Aug 2006 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem

 

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