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Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers Hardcover – January 9, 2003


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Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers + More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers' Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered (Marder and Mayhem) + Howdunit Forensics
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (January 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312309457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312309459
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is an enormously entertaining collection of the best of Lyle's columns for the Mystery Writers of America newsletter, in which the doctor provides detailed and informative answers to questions regarding various aspects of medicine and forensics. Aspiring and experienced mystery writers will achieve verisimilitude, as well as the suspended disbelief of their audiences, by applying Lyle's insights, which he divides into three helpful sections: "Doctors, Hospitals, Illnesses, and Injuries"; "Methods of Murder and Mayhem"; and "Tracking the Perp." Lyle's direct style ("This is unlikely to work"; "Think James Bond") enlivens even the most obscure issue ("What is Calor Mortis?"), while the depth of knowledge he brings to some seemingly basic questions ("How Is the Time of Death Determined?") make his answers definitive. Readers will never again see the oft-repeated crime-scene words "sucking chest wound" in the same way after reading Lyle on its symptoms and treatment.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Lyle offers straightforward medical information, bound to be snapped up by savvy mystery writers everywhere."--Rocky Mountain News, 1/24/03

"[Lyle] takes a matter-of-fact approach to some very grisly questions."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/22/03

"This surprisingly funny book is for writers, readers, or anyone fascinated by medical or forensic details....The medical information is well researched yet simple enough to understand."--Library Journal, 1/1/03

"An essential reference work for the fiction writer: informative and fun. I can't imagine my bookshelf without it."--Taylor Smith, author of Deadly Grace and The Innocents Club

"Dr. Lyle has an unerring ability to diagnose what it is writers need to know in answer to their questions about forensic medicine. His fascinating replies to questions writers have posed to him are precise and clearly stated, so that while he'll provide the medical terms you want, he'll also give the definitions you need."--Jan Burke, author of Bones, Flight, Hocus, and Liar

"An invaluable source for writers who want to get it right and for readers fascinated with the mysteries of the human body. Dr. Lyle's explanations are accurate, clear, entertaining, and thorough, and you'll wonder how you managed without him."--Rochelle Krich, national bestselling author of the Jessie Drake series

"This book is at once wise, informative, funny, factually reliable, and accessible."--Barbara Seranella, author of the Munch Mancini crime novels

"In my samurai novels I usually have people dispatched by lopping their heads off with a sword. For more difficult medical-related problems, Dr. Lyle's responses are always outstanding. They're lucid, succinct, and provide the information a writer needs. What a tremendous resource Dr. Lyle is!"--Dale Furutani, award-winning author of the Samurai Mystery Trilogy

par"Whenever I have a new 'Law & Order' episode to write, the first person I call for help is Dr. Lyle. He has an amazing ability to explain complex forensics in simple laypersons' terms. He thinks like a writer and gives you exactly the information that a writer will need. This book is a terrific resource."--Matt Witten, executive story editor for Law & Order and author of the Jacob Burns mystery novels

"It's three o'clock in the morning, you're hard at work on your mystery screenplay, and all that's missing is the essential medical clue to solve the murder...who ya gonna call? Dr. Lyle is the go-to-guy for writers looking for the perfect piece of medical knowledge, filling the blanks that imagination alone simply can't."--Lee Goldberg, executive producer for Diagnosis Murder and Martial Law, and author of Writing For Television


"Edifying and ghoulishly entertaining." (Raleigh News & Observer)

"A treasure trove of medical and forensic information . . . A must for every mystery writer's bookself." (Rhys Bowen Cozies, Capers, and Crimes)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The information contained in this book can be a great resource for a writer.
F. Larck
Even if you aren't a writer, the book is probably the best bathroom reading ever -- endlessly entertaining, witty, and informative.
Lee Goldberg
This book provides readers and writers with answers to "medical and forensic questions".
Harriet Klausner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on September 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of question-and-answer columns that Dr. Lyle wrote for Mystery Writers of America newsletters, so it's not exactly a comprehensive reference: some information is presented briefly, some is covered at great length, and some is repeated. But he covers a wide variety of topics useful to writers of mysteries and other fiction -- everything from the effects of various wounds and poisons, to what happens during a miscarriage, to who serves as the coroner in a small town. So, unless your character is an extremely ingenious murderer or suffers from a rare disease, you can probably find the information you need to write a convincing description. Also, Dr. Lyle has a good grasp of the writer's perspective, so he's very helpful in pointing out whether an author has "wiggle room" or not; this distinction isn't always clear in medical reference material. The book is easy to read, lively, and often funny, and if you're fascinated by medical details (how can the M.E. tell if someone drowned in fresh or salt water?), you'll find it enthralling -- but if not, you can always skip to the next question. Three thumbs up! (MY character has an extra digit.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book provides readers and writers with answers to "medical and forensic questions". The Q & A come from Dr. Lyle's column "The Doctor Is In" found in the newsletters of the Southern California and Southwestern chapters of the MWA. The first thing this reviewer did was scan the titles to insure that the good doctor had no Letterman type list of ten best ways to kill a critic. Once the book passed that critical test, I read the intriguing Q & A over a week's time. The questions are quite fascinating surely leading to the psychiatrists of America having a field day wondering just who comes up with these thoughts outside the asylum. Dr. Lyle's responses are often humorous, but always informative. MURDER AND MAYHEM is a delightful book that readers desiring entertainment (and hopefully nothing further) as much as writers seeking information will enjoy as a pick up put down reference broken into ten prime classifications and an odds and ends category catching those Qs that slip between the cracks. Words of warning: Do not attempt to use this book to bump off that insignificant other because the legal equivalent has not been written to provide the justifiable homicide defense.
Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marcianne Miller on July 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Putrefaction. Poison. Parasites. Why hair doesn't have DNA. How to trick a lie detector. What really happens when you "get the wind knocked out" of you.
These are just a few of the fascinating topics that California cardiologist D.P. Lyle Lyle has culled from his columns for Mystery Writers of America chapter newsletters and compiled into this handy, easy-to use crime writers reference.
His conversational style and comprehensive, sensible answers make the information so accessible that the book is actually a pleasant read, notwithstanding its ability to provide nefarious inspiration as well. From the smart cover art to the 19 illustrations and the reader friendly lay-out, Murder and Mayhem evidences the care taken in every step of its production to make the book useful time and again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on August 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Although designed for mystery writers, Dr. Lyle's book is an exciting discovery for mystery readers and forensic experts. The material is organized and accessible for someone needing a reference with specific forensic questions and answers but personally I read it cover-to-cover, nonstop.
D. P. Lyle, MD has created a most unusual, entertaining reference that is as much fun as the works of the top mystery writers and scriptwriters for whom the doctor consults. My only fear is that his book will fall into the hands of murderers!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Murder and Mayhem" is a MUST have for writers of all genres, readers, and even those glued to a television or the movies. This book is a one stop opportunity to understand the medical and forensic questions that arise in all of the most popular shows, films and books of our time. And on top of being incredibly informative--it's entertaining. I couldn't put it down. DP Lyle, MD is an exceptional writer with a flare for humor. This one is a keeper!!
Kathleen Antrim, Author of "Capital Offense"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lee Goldberg VINE VOICE on March 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's three am,you're hard at work on your mystery screenplay, and all that's missing is the essential medical clue to solve the murder. Who ya gonna call? Dr. Lyle is the go-to guy for writers looking for the perfect piece of medical knowledge, fillin the blanks that imagination alone simply can't. Even if you aren't a writer, the book is probably the best bathroom reading ever -- endlessly entertaining, witty, and informative. Buy this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Angela Wilson VINE VOICE on September 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have used this book numerous times since I purchased it new a year ago. If the answer I'm searching for isn't in this book, Lyle gives enough general information that I know what questions to ask my medical contacts when I touch base with them.

Definately worth full price, this book is packed with timely and detailed information mystery and crime writers need today.

Angela Wilson

Author
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Atheen M. Wilson on June 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Murder and Mayhem is a book written by an MD that provides answers to specific questions regarding various author's plots for murder. As a nurse myself, I would say that the doctor's information is quite accurate and most of his objections and suggestions with respect to individual approaches to murder are well taken.

While the book answers the particular queries made and does so clearly and with a good deal of information in the process, it is not an encyclopedic work by any means. Unless your method is like those already submitted by the authors seeking the doctor's input, you may find the book is not very helpful. That said, many of the most common types of wrongful death are discussed and described. Certainly if you are at a loss and need some input as to where to begin, the book will provide you with an enviable assortment of methods to employ. Once selected, it remains merely to weave a story around it and to create a set of suspicious characters among whom your reader must chose.
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