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Book of the week. Forensics, the Anatomy of Crime 2/5.

McDermid, Val.
  • Audio

About this work


Part 2 of 5, Val McDermid talks about her new book, 'The Anatomy of Crime', launched prior to a Wellcome Collection exhibition on the subject in February 2015. She explores history and practices in forensics science referencing historical cases as well as those in the more recent news. This programme looks at forensic entomology citing an interesting case from China in 1247. There is a predictable order of insects which inhabit a corpse - a forensic entomologist establishes the time of death based on this. In 44BC the first documented autopsy was of Julius Caesar - the start of a discipline which stretched from Vesalius, Ambroise Pare to Spilsbury. Spilsbury was an expert witness in the Crippen case in 1910. New technology has revealed that Crippen was comprehensively wrong. A new innovation is virtual autopsy software. Mary Ann Cotton was the most prolific female serial killer in the nineteeth century in UK and was only caught (despite brazenly killing up to 20 members of her own family) by toxicology tests which arose from a new understanding of how to detect arsenic.


UK : BBC Radio 4, 2014.

Physical description

1 CD (14 min.)


Copyright note

BBC Radio 4


Broadcast on 11 November 2014

Creator/production credits

Presented by Val McDermid. Produced by Allegra McIlroy.



  • English

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