Book Reviews

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

Abstract

American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI. Kate Winkler Dawson. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 335 pages. ISBN 9780525539551 Forensic science has become so firmly planted in the popular imagination of what constitutes police investigation that it’s origins in America trace back less than a century. American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson looks at the life of Edward Oscar Heinrich, whose pioneering work in forensic science led him to be dubbed as the American Sherlock of the 1930s. Taking us through his life, Dawson details some of his most famous cases and the methods used to investigate them. Heinrich established many forensic techniques in his lifetime, some with more flaws than others. Dawson writes in a narrative style, drawing the reader into the story with little details that may or may not have happened. Her storytelling flow keeps the book easy to read; however, some might find the style distracting from the facts of the cases. American Sherlock begins and ends with one of Heinrich’s most famous cases about a man accused of killing his wife. Dawson takes the reader through the case and Heinrich’s methods, but in the end, she leaves it up to the reader to determine if the outcome was what it should have been. Throughout, readers encounter movie stars, priests, and a number of other fascinating cases. They learn about the beginning of forensic techniques that are still used by police today—including lie […]

The full article is for members only

Log In to View Full Article