Murder Maps USA: Crime Scenes Revisited; Bloodstains to Ballistics, 1865–1939

Thames & Hudson. Oct. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780500252598. $35. REF
In this engrossing work spanning the end of the Civil War through the start of World War II, Selzer (H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil) analyzes the scenes of notorious U.S. murders, including the killings of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother, the murder of Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son, and the assassinations of presidents Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley. Selzer explains that this era saw huge technological advances in policing, criminology, and forensics, and the adoption of practices such as handwriting analysis, fingerprinting, and ballistics. Maps are a primary feature of Selzer’s book; each entry contains either a street map or floor plan of the site of the murder with fascinating details such as the murderer’s movements or the location of the victim(s). Each entry also includes a brief description of the murder, expert analysis, and numerous, often gruesome photographs. The volume features a brief introduction about the birth of criminology and modern forensics, a criminology matrix, more than 700 illustrations, and suggestions for further reading.
VERDICT Due to the graphic nature of some of the photographs, this book is not recommended for everybody, but readers interested in true crime and forensics will appreciate Selzer’s singular volume.
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