From Publishers Weekly
Noted forensic anthropologist Maples, whose specialty is the study of bones, and freelance journalist Browning here recount Maples's criminal and anthropological investigations over the past 20 years. The meandering text combines episodes from Maples's personal life and education with discourses on his philosophy, his teaching at the Univ. of Florida and his work. The book's strength is as a snapshot of the world of forensic scientists, vividly portraying the siege mentality of many of them when their objective data are used for purposes other than ascertaining the truth about how a victim died. Despite the two-dimensional depiction of the people who were the objects of Maples's investigations-including the "likely" remains of Romanov Tsar Nicholas II-his memoirs should hold readers' interest.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Maples' first exposure to his career came as a freshman in college when a class he wanted was full and his adviser then suggested he take the survey course on anthropology. Maples was fortunate, as will be any reader with a strong stomach who picks up his book. He tells how he learned to look at mangled bodies and continues to explain how he learned to both see and observe and how he discovered such fruitful techniques as tasting bone samples. Although it tends to be lifeless, forensic anthropology is not a cut-and-dried subject; nevertheless, Maples narrates his cases clearly and engagingly. He describes the remains (or, when burnt, cremains) presented to him, describes what he looks for, and guides us through his thinking and the search for additional clues and information. His most difficult, fascinating, and perplexing case dealt with a 1985 apparent double murder and burning, while among historic bodies, Maples dealt with those of Francisco Pizarro, Zachary Taylor, Czar Nicholas II, and Joseph Merrick, "the Elephant Man." William Beatty