Skip to main content

Book Review: Scene of the Crime - a Writer's Guide to Crime-scene Investigations

I bought Scene of the Crime, a writer's guide to crime-scene investigations by Anne Wingate, Ph.D. at the same time as I bought Modus Operandi so the information, whilst still relevant, much is more relevant to pre 1996 crime scene investigations. That said, this is an excellent companion to that book. Where as Modus Operandi gives you an overview of types of criminals, Scene of the Crime goes into the specifics of how police work a crime scene.



Anne Wingate is a retired detective and author of crime novels. Much of this book is based on her personal experience of crime scenes and not only includes anecdotes from her professional career but also includes a specific, real case as a framework for the step by step process of investigating a crime.

It is a fascinating read covering everything, from what happens when a crime is first reported, how a crime scene is recorded, how evidence is collected, what evidence can be found, how evidence is processed and what can be concluded from the results.

If the crime involves a body it covers what happens to the body, what evidence can be obtained from a body, how a body decomposes and the progressive difficulties of what a body can reveal the more it has decomposed.

There's extensive chapters on fingerprinting including the administrative issues that went along with matching fingerprints to perpetrators before such things as computer databases. It's quite surprising to learn that cases that collect finger print evidence, prior to computerization, weren't guaranteed to be matched even if the guilty person's fingerprints were on file simply because of the logistics of searching physical card records.

You'll also find a good overview of firearms and the evidence that can be collected from them. How autopsies work and how crime labs work.

Along the way you'll get some idea of how long evidence takes to be processed and discover some of the administrative issues that can slow down an investigation. Anne even points out procedural issues that could be exploited in your own crime writing.

The final chapter covers unofficial investigators (a popular focus for fiction). Unfortunately, in the real world things look pretty bleak for their ability to function as they don't have any authority or access to crime scenes once the police step in. That said, the author notes there are ways around this but generally it's not easy to present a realistic portrayal without giving them a few lucky breaks.

Every chapter includes a table summary of the topic you've just read making this an excellent reference book to go back to and find what you need to brush up on fairly easily. Included in the Appendix is sample reports from people who worked the crime scene and reports from the crime lab of what was found in the evidence processed.

There is enough information in this book to write a fairly convincing crime story but the author does warn that crime scene investigation is a constantly evolving field. For example this book was written around 1992 when DNA sampling was a relatively new field. Twenty plus years on I'm pretty sure you're going to need updated information if you want to make that a convincing part of your story. Anne gives you some suggestion on who to call in your local police force if you want to get updated information on most areas of evidence analysis.

If you're writing a crime story that needs to be fairly convincing then this book will mostly have you covered. Unless your crime hangs on a specific area of evidence analysis where you need to be extremely factual you probably won't need to do too much further research. I know I've watched many high profile crime shows that don't get anywhere near as detailed as this book with their crime scene investigations.

I highly recommend this book, even for modern stories, as so much is still very relevant to today's police work.


Comments

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET

Popular posts from this blog

Eric W. Schwartz: Cartoonist, Animator and Amiga Die Hard

American Cartoonist, Eric W. Schwartz, (whose unofficial Amiga Icon, Amy the Squirrel, is pictured on the July 92 edition of CU Amiga cover on the right) is my only real animation hero. Sure there are the big names like Disney, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and even Preston Blair whose influences can all be seen in my own cartoons but Eric did what none of the others could. He showed that really great 2D computer animation was within my reach with little more than an Amiga Computer, a copy of Deluxe Paint and Moviesetter.

This was at a time when computer based animation was in its infancy (outside of computer game animation) and Flash was something that lights did.

There were many great Amiga artists but Eric was really the only one consistently making very funny, traditional style animations. His humor and drawing style is heavily influenced by classic Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons but he managed to build on this, creating something that was recognizably Eric's own style.

I've…

Review: CrazyTalk Animator 3 vs Moho Studio Pro 12

Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 or Smith Micro's Moho Studio Pro 12. Which of these 2D animation applications is right for you?

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a strong supporter, and fairly proficient user of CrazyTalk Animator since version 1. It's a great piece of software for producing 2D animations from purchased content quickly and, with version 3, is easier than ever to create animations from your own art.

Lesser known is that I first purchased Moho Studio Pro 12 (then known as Anime Studio Pro 9) back in October of 2012 and have been upgrading it to the latest version ever since because I believed in it as an application for creating great 2D animation to TV quality standard. As such, it's a much more complex application than CTA3 that I only got around to learning properly late last year. I'm still in the process of blogging my progress.

Despite this I feel I've learned enough of Moho to compare it to CTA3 to help you determine which …

Voice All Your Own Animated Characters with Voice Changer

Voice Changer by AVSoft is real time voice manipulation software that can be used for a wide range of purposes including (according to their website); Voice-over and voice dubbing for audio/video clips, presentations, narrations, voice messages, voice mails, E-greeting cards, broadcasting, etc.; mimic the voice of any person, create animal sounds, change/replace/remove voices in songs, videos,etc.

I bought it for the specific purpose of changing my own voice, to extend my vocal range, for voicing characters in my own animations.
I was fortunate enough to get this software at a significant discount that made it difficult to refuse, given that I'd never tried it, or even heard of it before. I'm not sure if I would have bought it at the full price given that much of what it can do (for my needs) can also be done with the freeware audio program, Audacity.
Voice Changer is relatively easy to install and set up. Once installed simply change you default microphone to the installed AV…

Cartoon Animator 4 Tutorial - Secondary Animation - Jelly Bees and Elastic Motions

If you've bought Reallusion's Spongy Moves, Elastic Motions and Jelly Bees Emotion Props Combo Pack for CrazyTalk Animator 3/Cartoon Animator 4 you may be wondering how those little Jelly Bees are making their little bubble top knots bounce around like they do in the promo video?

Well grab your copy of CrazyTalk Animator 3 or Cartoon Animator 4 and follow along with my video tutorial below for how to make those bubble top knots bounce!



The secondary animation in my tutorial is should not be confused with the principle of animation known as 'Secondary Action' - which is a second action that supports the main action a character is performing.

The principle my tutorial demonstrates is actually known as 'Follow Through and Overlapping Action'. Actions that are caused by the main action dragging something else along with it, that then follows through and continues to move momentarily after the main action has stopped.

An obvious example is if a long haired characte…

Learn Moho Pro 12 Free Using SmithMicro's Own 104 Video Tutorials Sorted into a Logical Order of Progression

So you've bought Smith Micro's Moho Pro 12 along with the Moho, 10 hour, 104 Video Tutorials Add On pack so you can get learning right away... only you can't. For whatever reason, the video tutorials aren't sorted into any logical order of progression making them hard to follow.

Yeah, I've been there, only I've done what Smith Micro should have done and sorted all the video tutorials into a logical order of natural progression for you. That is, each tutorial builds upon what you learned in previous videos and you won't suddenly come up against some feature you've never used before, unless that feature is what the video tutorial is about.

Water Valet - Funny, Animated Short About Robots, AI, and the Future of Office Automation.

Back in 1987 I saw English Actor/Comedian Kenneth Williams on television make a quote about medical specialists that has stuck with me ever since as an idea for comedy.
It's frightening to think with modern medicine and all the techniques available to them... they can't really help you. In the old days, you know, you were better off because nowadays, they are all specialists. Everyone's becoming better and better at less and less... Eventually someone's going to be superb... at nothing. - Kenneth Williams, Aspel & Co 1987
In consumer robotics it's a very relevant concept that appears to be working in reverse. We're seeing more and more consumer robots released that perform one task really well (robot vacuum cleaners for example) but we're kind of working towards the robot butler/maid/assistant, a single robot that can perform many different tasks.

An early example is the AI used in home speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home where you can automate a…

The Ultimate Independent Animator's App and Resource List 2019 - Animation and Video Life

Being an independent animator is not like a studio animation job. There's so much more to do that is indirectly related to the actual task of animating. Over the years I've sought out many apps, tools, and services that can help me achieve that one single task, expressing myself through animation.

Below is my Ultimate Independent Animator's Resource List for 2019. It started out as a list of free or low cost apps that could help you in every stage of producing either 2D or 3D animation, and then just kind of grew from there.

You may not have been looking for a Time Management App as much as you needed something to get you started in 3D animation but when those commissioned projects start coming in you'll have a head start on maximizing your time.

All the apps and services on this list had to meet two main criteria:

They had to be useful and relevant to an Indy Animator/artist.The base app/service had to be US$200.00 or less.
(In the case of a subscription service that&…