Behind the scenes with a real forensic scientist

September 4, 2012
By

Expert Witness,

by Dr Anna Sandiford (HarperCollins, RRP $33):

With programmes such as Bones and CSI, we all feel familiar with the inner workings of the forensic side of police investigations, but the real thing is somewhat different.

Expert Witness is an insight into the work of a real forensic scientist and, unlike the television versions, these don’t involve wearing high heels and fancy suits to crime scenes or constantly fiddling with your designer sunglasses (yes Horatio, I’m talking about you).

New Zealand-based Anna Sandiford knows her stuff, having been involved in forensic science for more than a decade and as an expert witness and adviser for both the defence and the Crown in many high- profile criminal cases.

In this book she writes frankly about her experiences in what I can only imagine is a difficult and, at times, heart-breaking job.

Her writing style is easy and informative: you’ll learn a lot without feeling like you are attending a lecture and you will want to keep reading to learn even more.

The book kicks off with an encounter with a convicted murderer that will have you on the edge of your seat, then explains the background to that encounter, which makes it even more intriguing.

There aren’t any flashy whiz- bang, futuristic gadgets, the forensic scientists don’t flit about waving their guns and arresting suspects and there’s not a pair of designer sunglasses or a tricked-out Hummer in sight.

And yes, it’s true what they say, that the real life version bears little resemblance to the television version. The real life version is better.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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