Tag: true crime

Book Review: American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI

BY MATT ELLIS

With seven Law and Orders, four CSIs, and crime thrillers ranking among the top-selling genres of fiction, it is no mystery that America has an addiction to police procedurals and court drama. Networks and publishers have made an industry out of true crime re-creation and documentaries for those with a more discerning bloodlust that want to know that the murder and mayhem they consume is the real deal. In this environment, it should come as no surprise that Kate Winkler Dawson’s newest book, American Sherlock, with its equal parts biography, true crime facts, forensics science history, and social commentary, is primed to be a shotgun blast of mass appeal into the face of the nonfiction marketplace.

At first blush, American Sherlock is a biography about Edward Oscar Heinrich, a man Dawson identifies in the prologue as “a forensic scientist and criminalist from the first half of the twentieth century, a man who changed how crimes were solved before forensics became the foundation of most criminal cases – America’s Sherlock Holmes.”

Dawson tackles Heinrich’s illustrious career by walking the reader through his most famous cases. The chosen series of vignettes reads like the lead plots of the best crime fiction—a Hollywood mogul accused of sexual assault and manslaughter; a devout husband charged with the murder of his wife; a manhunt after a boy finds a body part; and quite possibly the last great American train robbery. That’s not all, but you get the idea.

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Book Review: Norco ’80 by Peter Houlahan

By David M. Olsen

We just got our asses kicked, didn’t we?” Deputy Andy Delgado says to Deputy Rolf Parkes while in the hospital after an eye surgery to remove bullet shrapnel. This exchange, found in the new book Norco 80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan, captures the sentiments universally shared by the police after their forces were eviscerated by five masked and heavily armed men in the wake of a botched bank robbery in Norco, California in 1980. Norco is an expertly rendered accounting of these events that reads like a crime thriller and courtroom drama, with all the brutal gravity of a true story. This is true crime at its best.

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