The art of forensic medicine from a veteran medical examiner.
In her riveting and frank chronicle, forensic pathologist Huser dispels many common misperceptions portrayed in contemporary entertainment media about the field of death investigation. With descriptive grace, the author affably escorts readers along through her formative years as a pathology resident at the Methodist Medical Center of Illinois in Peoria performing autopsies and determining the manners of death in a mélange of cases. Huser introduces a brilliant array of medical authorities and others whose stories energize the narrative and offer personal anecdotes of occurrences in the field that became learning experiences for the author as she advanced through her years as a pathologist. She also reviews cases that proved discouraging, suspicious, and perplexing and explores the frustrating “feeling of helplessness and failure and the sting of the surgeon’s scorn.” Descriptions of corpses in various states of disease and decay are graphic but accurate representatives of a coroner’s work. Some details will surprise readers: a majority of pathologists don’t like to do autopsies, and some even believe them to be “largely a waste of time.” Other chapters address the heartbreak of sudden infant death syndrome and child abuse, drug dependency, probing for bullets in body cavities, as well as the author’s relationship with her heart-disease–addled father and her fascination with forensic toxicology. Because Huser never skimps on the grisly details of subjects like suicides or a particularly horrifying, meticulously portrayed rape case, her medical memoir is not for the squeamish. For those with stronger constitutions, the collective educational benefits of the book are immense, and Huser’s in-depth, personal guide through forensic medicine will surely engross eager clinical students as well as death-investigation fans.
An addictively written, thorough coroner’s chronicle.