- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; Revised ed. edition (September 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674007271
- ISBN-13: 978-0674007277
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes Revised ed. Edition
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Almost every murder has literally millions of witnesses, but their only testimony is a maddening buzz. Speaking for the insects is forensic entomologist M. Lee Goff, who relates some of the secrets of his young profession in A Fly for the Prosecution. Equal parts scientific and true-crime journalism, the book reports unflinchingly on the development of this field as an important adjunct to traditional means of investigation. Based on our constantly improving knowledge of the reproduction and growth of carrion flies and beetles, an informed examiner can determine the time and location of death with great precision, often lending the final evidence needed to close a case. Goff has been at the forefront of forensic entomology and has worked closely with Hawaiian law enforcement for many years, yielding a rich assortment of crime stories to illustrate his research. Readers need a strong stomach to take the macabre details of some of the murders; fortunately for those at the borderline, all the excellent illustrations depict insects rather than their meals. Goff also explores how we came to the knowledge we have today, including the meticulous field research of the 19th century and the modern decomposition studies with pigs in a wide variety of environments and conditions. You might never need the knowledge, but reading A Fly for the Prosecution will at least satisfy your curiosity by telling you what the blowfly saw. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
This is a lively and informative firsthand account of forensic entomology in the United States. Goff (entomology, Univ. of Hawaii, Manoa) is a consultant to the Medical Examiner of Honolulu. He is especially well qualified to write this book because of his active involvement in many criminal investigations and his leadership in a profession that has come into its own within the past two decades. Much of the book deals with the use of entomology in investigations, especially in estimating the postmortem interval--the time elapsed between death and discovery of the body. The interval can now be estimated with considerable accuracy by identifying the insects present on the corpse, their stages of development, and their relationships with other insects. This book is not for the squeamish owing to the descriptions of corpses at the scene of death, in the morgue, and in various states of decay, including insect infestation. But Goff also writes about coping with murder scenes, testifying in court, and publicizing his profession. This book should appeal to a wide audience owing to its readability and novel subject matter. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
-William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Part true crime, part science fact, this book sheds light on an interesting, growing, and increasingly important area of criminology. Similar in fashion to the techniques depicted in the book, The Silence of the Lambs, this book gives an in-depth treatment of the way insects have been used not only to determine the time of death, but also solve crimes.
I found the history of the field of forensic entomology, which easily goes back some one hundred years, to be quite fascinating. Dr. Goff also relates to the reader some of the ways fly larvae can potentially be used for the benefit of the living, such as the medicinal uses of wound cleaning and anti-coagulant properties of larvae.
Moreover, I was also touched by the compassion Dr. Goff has for the victims, both living and dead, of violent crime. To do the kind of work he does requires a certain amount of cold detachment (otherwise many could not do it), yet Dr. Goff never forgets that the victims were once human beings. As such, though he has understandably been the subject of more than a few TV dramas, he himself does not try to sensationalize his work. In addition to relating the horrific and sordid, he also gives the reader a hefty dose of the mundane, tedious, and frustrating, as he relates the red tape involved in doing his experiments and the often annoying complications of being involved in all facets of a murder investigation.
This is a fascinating read. Dr. Goff has so captivated me that I am thinking of enrolling in the forensic entomology class offered at UC Davis in the spring, if my stomach can stand it!
Less one star from me because the overwhelming bulk of the book focuses on just one forensic issue: determination of the "post mortem interval" (time of death). As Goff notes in the book's concluding chapters, entomological studies have the potential to shed light on any number of other pressing forensic questions. I wish he'd spent more time talking about these.
AFftP is not an especially compelling entomology read, but it's a pretty compelling forensics read. If you're interested in learning more about some of the science behind CSI, this book's as good a place to start as any.