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  • Barbara Copperthwaite


The Real CSI, a forensic handbook for crime writers, by Kate Bendelow. REVIEW BY BARBARA COPPERTHWAITE

'Perfect for anyone interested in crime or crime writing'


Who is allowed access to a crime scene? What happens when a body is discovered? Will a blood transfusion alter DNA? How can the distribution of gunshot residue inform your plot? The Real CIS - A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers answers these questions and more in a unique and exclusive insight into crime scene investigation. Using real-life examples and case studies, experienced CSI Kate Bendelow shines a light behind the yellow tape and debunks the myths popularized by the 'CSI Effect'. Each chapter explores the latest procedures in contemporary practice including: Crime Scene access and preservation; fingerprints and DNA profiling; footwear; trace evidence; fire scenes; drugs and toxicology and, finally, firearms. Packed with insider knowledge, handy tips and compelling storylines, this is the definitive guide for all crime writers who wish to write with authenticity and authority.


It's exciting and nerve-racking times in the Copperthwaite writing cave at the moment. My current work in progress is a little different from my previous novels, though still very much crime-based, never fear. It means, though, that I'm reading lots of fascinating non-fiction books on police procedure and the like - and this newly-published book, THE REAL CSI, A FORENSIC HANDBOOK FOR CRIME WRITERS by Kate Bendelow, caught my eye immediately.

The author has been a crime scene investigator for 15 years, and her expertise really shines through. She manages to convey technical complexity with simple explanations, so the book is packed with information without ever seeming off-putting to the lay-person. Bendelow has a writing style that is easy-to-read, informal, but not too simplistic. She uses real cases to illustrate points and issues. Procedures are tackled in easy-to-navigate sections such as Crime Scene Access, Footwear, Firearms, Trace Evidence, and so on, so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.

I found it fascinating and incredibly useful. So many books of this ilk are either so dry they desiccate my brain in seconds and I drift off, or are so dumbed down that they convey little useful information. This book is perfect for anyone interested in crime or crime writing – it’s genuinely interesting and useful, and gives a great overview for writers. My only criticism? I wish it were longer, because I whizzed through it!

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