American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI

Putnam. Feb. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780525539551. $27;. CRIME
Dawson (Death in the Air) uses five decades worth of files to tell the story of Edward Heinrich, who in the first half of the 20th century, solved some of the most mysterious and high-profile criminal cases in the United States. The case files presented include the page-turning stories of a high-profile Hollywood actor accused of murder, the kidnapping and murder of a Catholic priest, and the baffling case of a Stanford professor accused of killing his wife. Readers will learn about a man with a difficult past being led to an exciting, yet demanding career never pursued; the birth of forensic science; and law enforcement’s and the public’s shifting views of forensics to solve crimes.
VERDICT A fascinating book worthy of being associated with the title’s literary sleuth. Readers will want a follow-up so they can discover more of Heinrich’s cases as told through Dawson’s great storytelling. For fans of Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and other true crime works.
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