Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind

Arcade. Jun. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781951627805. $27.99. CRIME
Starting with the skull, traveling through the torso and limbs, and ending with the tailbone, forensic anthropologist Black (All That Remains) journeys through the human body to explain the stories that our bones can tell. Examining even small fragments can determine the age, sex, and manner of death of a murder victim. Black describes several cases (many that she personally investigated) and forensics techniques, like examining still images from videos to identify an accused child molester, or sorting bones and bone fragments to determine the number of victims. Looking at the case of Buck Ruxton, a physician who was hanged in 1935 for murder, Black details the pioneering investigative techniques that were used to convict him, including superimposing the photograph of a skull onto an image of his common-law wife Isabella Ruxton to prove that she was the victim. Black writes with humor to counter the often grisly and heartbreaking stories, including the account of her own sexual assault at the age of nine; she speculates that her bones may have recorded this trauma in the form of Harris lines (bands on bones that indicate that the growth has been affected).
VERDICT Fans of CSI crime shows will enjoy this real-life forensics overview.
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