Los Angeles County's Chief Medical Examiner expands on the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Tare, Natalie Wood, John Belushi, and other luminaries--but with none of the egotism or showboating he's been accused of. With DiMona's assist, Noguchi comes across instead as a strongly opinionated man committed to elevating the practice of forensic pathology. He delivers that message in telling of the inspiration for his career--his father, a Japanese physician, was exonerated in a malpractice suit by methodical investigative medicine--and in explaining his side of the conflicts that have marked his term in office. (He has always been reinstated with a clear record.) Readers, of course, will be waiting to hear his views on the sensational cases, Marilyn Monroe's death was early in Noguchi's career, but investigations continued for over 20 years and theories still proliferate. Noguchi's judgment is that Monroe's death was ""very probably"" suicide; nonetheless controversy will continue until FBI files on Monroe and her purported Kennedy connection are made public. In the more recent, equally mysterious case of Natalie Wood, Noguchi maintains that a combination of hypothermia from water immersion, a sodden down jacket weighing about 30 lbs., and a significant blood alcohol level that impaired her judgment led to her drowning only about 100 yds. offshore. Other eases are enlightening and instructive simply because Noguchi's facts are irrefutable (Robert Kennedy did take one bullet to the head at point-blank range, no matter what eye-witnesses remember) or because he reveals details of a coroner's work (e.g., how bodies are pieced together and identification is made after airline crashes). A gold mine for celebrity-watchers but also a neat first-lesson in forensic investigation.
Pub Date: Nov. 2, 1983
Page Count: -
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983
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