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Never Suck A Dead Man's Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI Paperback – February 1, 2008


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Never Suck A Dead Man's Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI + Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist + Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel; Reprint edition (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806528230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806528236
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #984,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of CSI and Court TV, your book has arrived: a chronicle of the most unusual, macabre and malodorous experiences from 10-plus years of crime scene investigation. Baltimore Police Department CSI Kollman has the enthusiasm, wit (she dedicates the book "to all the bugs I've loved before") and natural storytelling ability to make this memoir sparkle-not easy for a text devoted largely to death and decay. Kollmann aims to educate those with "a Hollywood mentality about a Hell's Kitchen kind of job," and to that end she accentuates glamourless, largely drama-free case-solving. Thankfully, however, there's no lack of adventure: Kollman gets her title from a mishap she suffered while trying to get prints on a bitterly cold night, huffing on the fingers of an accident fatality. At another scene, a rotating ceiling fan flings down grisly bits of a suicide victim's head; at another, maggots are already devouring a body as Kollman tries to get photos. Amid consideration of office politics and her long-suffering family ("literally sickened by my job"), crime-scene anecdotes can get bogged down in details; luckily, Kollman's bright prose, which achieves an approachable, chick-lit tone without sounding flip, makes this squirm-inducing tale highly enjoyable. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Former Baltimore County Police Department CSI Kollmann tells her story in the perky manner of the CSI and Law and Order TV franchises, proudly delivering terse commentary and gory detail while puncturing common tube-inspired misconceptions about forensics. "You can't get fingerprints off of rocks," she imparts, and "crime scene investigators don't interview suspects." Furthermore, "luminol doesn't glow blue hours after it's sprayed," and "a miniskirt and heels" aren't the usual raiment of distaff CSIs. Kollmann eventually left the crime lab after realizing she "didn't want the cranberry sauce [at] Thanksgiving . . . to remind [her] of blood clots anymore." This informative, witty treatment of her work accessibly illuminates the reality of forensic science, making it a natural adjunct to true-crime collections. The title, by the way, refers to "the day a dead man's hand ended up in [Kollmann's] mouth"---- just one of the many true-life experiences unlikely to befall TV CSIs that she reports. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book had me laughing out loud.
H. Brown
It isn't CSI: Miami, and those who think the TV show even remotely resembles real-life CSI work need to pick up this book and read it.
Music Chick
Author has a great sense of humor and it makes the line of work seem incredibly interesting.
Santino Cannizzaro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 102 people found the following review helpful By I. Zawilski TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The further along I got in this book, the more I disliked the author. I worked in the criminal justice field for thirty-four years (not as a police officer or a forensic person, by the way) and she typifies the kind of person who gives us all a bad name. Smug, self-important, and arrogant. So quick to denigrate the public she was supposed to serve. In Chapter Seven she meets a pair of poor souls, an obviously mentally disordered mother and son. As they started running away from her she says "I split open with laughter..I snickered as Jimmy...loaded down with bags and sliping on the icy sidewalk, tried to keep pace with his mother...His mother was a fruit loop--but poor Jimmy, if he were any dumber, he'd have to be watered."

In the same chapter, she meets another mentally challenged individual, whom she nicknames Frodo because of his feet. His house is dirty. Here's another excerpt: "I continued dusting [for fingerprints], not even caring that I was using my dirty brush. This was the brush I saved for gross things, like powdering toilet seats. I didn't like to use the filty, germ-laden thing...inside people's homes, but Frodo had asked for it. I was tempted to cover the earpiece and mouthpiece of his telephone with fingerprint powder so he'd walk around town with a black face just because he annoyed me."

Does this sound like a professional person to you? There are many, many more incidents like those mentioned above, including a gratuitous bit of nastiness to a funeral home receptionist. She also documents times when, while on duty, she went home to tend to personal business. She knew she was doing wrong because she was worried about being "caught" at home. If she had worked for me, she would have been gone.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Toonfan on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is filled with personal anecdotes of a former crime scene investigator. There's not much you learn from this book except that the work of a CSI is neither glamorous nor desirable. The book is 260 pages long and it really seems like the author had to dig deep to find stories to tell because most of the stories are very boring. There's one story of how the author had to buy enough coffins to house sixteen skeletons. There was a lot of confusion with the funeral home employee, but it seemed like the author could have cleared up the confusion by just telling the employee the exact purpose of her purchase. Instead she relished in the confusion to exasperate the funeral home employee. This kind of meanness permeates the book. There is an attempt at dark humor, if you can really make fun of decomposing bodies and disgusting stenches. This is hardly an account of how a CSI works in general. It's just one person's account of how she coped with a job that apparently was distasteful for her. The book was disappointing.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By L. Summers on February 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm only going to finish this book because I'm trying to complete a 100-books-in-2011 goal and I need this one to count. I'm very put off by the narrator's attitude. I've read many books by forensic professionals on similar subjects and none of them made me want to reach through the page and strangle the narrator. The author comes off as disdainful of anybody who isn't her, contemptuous of people who have any kind of failing, and unfailingly disgusted by everything. By the time I was halfway through the book I thought I might scream if she used the word "gross" one more time. She writes all her anecdotes as if she's composing a script for a sitcom starring herself as the cleverest, snarkiest character and giving herself all the "best" lines. I put "best" in quotes because the so-called clever witticisms aren't even funny.

This book is also in dire need of a good editor. Repeatedly the word "hoards" is used when "hordes" is intended, and other similar errors.

If you want to read a GOOD book about forensic science, try William Maples' "Dead Men Do Tell Tales." He writes about interesting case studies - not just random happenings on the job - and manages not to denigrate the people he encounters and those whose remains he studies.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Irene E. Cooper on January 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
The book is interesting in a morbid way, as the author tells gross stories about awful things that she has investigated. However, in my opinion, her chatty and rambling writing style is more tiresome than funny, like listening to a teenage girl rattle on about cute guys for several hours. I'd agree with the other reviewer that her presentation is not very professional. Her flippancy about human tragedy seems immature and insensitive.

Also the book contains many typos and word choice errors (i.e., site instead of sight, shuttered instead of shuddered) which makes me wonder if the publisher employs any proofreaders at all. Overall, the book seems sloppy and rushed. But she gives plenty of disgusting details about death scenes.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Music Chick on June 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Kollman did an OUTSTANDING job telling the tale of the crime scene investigator. It isn't CSI: Miami, and those who think the TV show even remotely resembles real-life CSI work need to pick up this book and read it. Unlike the CSI TV series, there is more gore than glamour to the job, and you can bet that Kollman was never found walking around in a death scene wearing heels and a business suit.

For those who are not experienced in crime scene investigation, as long as you can tolerate very graphic descriptions of dead bodies and such, then this will be a good book to start with to get an understanding of what is involved in the world of forensics.

For those of us who have done crime scene investigation, there are several sections where you will find yourself laughing, nodding your head with the familiarity of what she is describing, and you may experience a little deja vu!

Either way, this book is a winner.
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