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A Voice for the Dead Hardcover – February 17, 2005
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
From Publishers Weekly
With the CSI craze showing no sign of abating, there will doubtless be an eager audience for Starrs's intriguing but quirky accounts of the noteworthy and notorious exhumations he has participated in. Starrs, a pioneer in forensic science, recounts his dogged, almost obsessive involvement with seven historical mysteries, ranging from the assassination of Louisiana demagogue Huey Long to the Boston Strangler. Using clues from Dr. Carl Weiss's exhumed skeleton, Starrs makes a powerful case that the young doctor widely believed to have been Long's assassin was probably innocent. Starrs will also probably change the minds of many who have discounted challenges to the veracity of Albert DeSalvo's confession to the sex murders that plagued Boston in the 1960s. His narrative isn't for everyone--it's occasionally repetitive (he explains several times that remains with flesh still attached are "stinkies"), and it's filled with "humor" that many will find distasteful. Furthermore, despite his assertions of respect for the dead, he displays a cavalier attitude toward some bones he recovers, which are occasionally on the verge of being damaged in airplane overhead bins. These oddball aspects should not overshadow the significance of Starrs's accomplishments, but they easily might. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.Agent, John Silbersack with Trident Media Group. (Feb. 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Starrs is a law professor who gained media attention in the 1990s for exhuming the corpora delicti in historical cases of suspicious deaths. In these accounts of six such cases, an affinity for publicity appears to be entangled among Starrs' motivations, plainly so in his digging up of Jesse James. (Yup, that was Jesse in the grave.) Also palpable, however, Starrs' desire to rectify injustice when he encounters deficiencies in the official investigation. Often descendents of victims requested that Starrs reinvestigate a case. So began his scrutiny of the murder of Huey Long, the 1953 death-by-defenestration of a CIA agent, and the Boston Strangler murders; for each Starrs concludes officialdom got it wrong. Other matters Starrs opened because they intrigued him, including his attempt to unearth Meriwether Lewis (request denied) and his excavation of the 1874 victims of Colorado cannibal Albert Packer. Like the memoirs written by forensics experts (e.g., Emily Craig's Teasing Secrets from the Dead [BKL Ag 04]), Starrs' work enhances a genre enjoying pronounced popularity. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Whether Merriwether Lewis was murdered, committed suicide, was bipolar, or suffered from syphilis, Starrs is on the trail. When a participant in the CIA's LSD programs goes out a window in the Statler Hilton, Starrs is the person who goes back to try to figure out if he jumped or was pushed, was LSD-crazed, or something else.
Starrs was recently hired by the House Governmental Affairs Committee to dig up the remains of Henry Aaron and George "Babe" Ruth as part of their ongoing investigation into drug use in baseball.
This is the real deal--not lusty, busty forensic scientists in perfectly-equipped labs (two fantasies at work there), but using forensic science to answer questions, and coming up with ever-better questions to push the limits of forensic science.
If you like the CSI stuff, find out that life can be at least as fascinating when you're tagging along on the tails of Starrs' lab coat.
I would recommend reading a chapter or two and if it interests you proceed. The good thing is you don't have to read the whole thing if you don't have time, but can instead read any of the cases that may interest you in particular.