Was Napoleon poisoned? Did King Rama VIII shoot himself? And just whose bones were found in the Temple prison? Only the bones know.
MacLeod provides here a neat introduction to the art and science of forensics, which examines the physical evidence of a death scene through DNA analysis, fingerprinting, bone analysis, autopsies, blood tests, X-rays and a slew of other high-tech methods. She examines seven particular cases in which the verdict had long been in dispute: the deaths of the Mayan royal family, Napoleon, the Man in the Iron Mask, King Rama VIII of Thailand, Grand Duchess Anastasia, King Tut and Marie-Antoinette’s son. Each episode is a taut short story, complete with historical context, conjectures, and plenty of background information and colorful minutiae (“Anastasia always had lots of energy, despite her painful bunions”). The canny unraveling of the evidence reveals the thought process of each forensic team. It will come as a shock to many that what they thought they knew about the deaths of these characters has been overthrown by recent forensic discoveries. In real life, forensics can be slow and tedious, but MacLeod invests these high-profile deaths with considerable vim and drama. A good selection of staged and archival photographs and artwork accompany the stories.
A fully fleshed and crisply told story of forensics at its romantic best. (glossary, sources, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)