The Real CSI: A Forensics Handbook for Crime Writers by Kate Bendelow

CSII first have to declare an interest: Kate Bendelow is a good friend and it is to her I turn when I have forensic and scene of crime questions relating to my crime novels. I was, therefore, delighted when I learned that she was writing a book on that very subject. As always, I will only give an honest review. I bought my book at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School where Kate presented a two part course on the work of a CSI.

Of course, Kate is eminently qualified to write The Real CSI: a Forensics Handbook for CrimeWriters as she is, by profession, a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) and works with Greater Manchester Police. In addition to this, Kate is a noted poet and fiction writer so The Real CSI is easy to read and understand. As a crime writer, that makes it invaluable.

The author explains the day to day work load of a CSI and tells her readers the difference between volume and major crimes. It informs you who is allowed access to a crime scene: what happens when a body is discovered and how the distribution of gunshot residue can inform the characters in a plot.

The Real CSI is not only interesting as a writers’ resource because it uses real-life examples and case studies and the author intrigues her reader by shining a light behind the yellow tape and debunks the myths popularized by the television ‘CSI Effect’. swanwick outside

Each chapter is full of invaluable, interesting information. The Real CSI explores the latest procedures in contemporary practice including: Crime Scene access and preservation; fingerprints and DNA profiling; footwear; trace evidence. It also covers fire scenes; drugs and toxicology and, finally, firearms.

The Real CSI: a Forensics Handbook for CrimeWriters is packed with insider knowledge, CSI katehandy tips and compelling storylines, this is the definitive guide for all crime writers who wish to write with authenticity and authority. It is also a fascinating read for everybody interested in the investigation of crime.

I highly recommend this book. Since I acquired my copy of this book, I have had it by my side regularly when writing crime fiction. All errors, of course, are my own!

Valerie Penny




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