Enter a forensic wonderland

by | Oct 5, 2022 | Newsletter

Without a doubt writers sometimes utilise artistic license and certain points in a story become . . . elastic. There can also be unwitting mistakes made despite extensive research and Beta readers.

I have mentioned working on a contemporary murder/mystery novel set in Auckland (along with the third Hennessey Reed adventure and a cozy mystery), and how different that is compared to writing a historical book. Luckily, there are great resources out there and wonderful people full to the brim with information with regards to how things are done at a crime scene who are, thankfully, willing to share said information, and their expertise.

A couple of weeks ago, along with several other members of the crime writers group I belong to, I attended a ‘forensic science experience’ at Forensic Insight in Auckland.

We started with an introduction to the history of fingerprinting, DNA retrieval, the identification of victims after natural disasters and all kinds of interesting stuff, then moved on to the nitty gritty. Split into pairs we trundled downstairs and donned PPE. The room there is divided so each pair has their own crime scene; we analysed the scene, lifted fingerprints using the gear from our special case filled with the tools of the trade, took DNA swabs of bottles and mugs, popped evidence into bags or envelopes and recorded them.Then we went back upstairs and learned how to search for our culprit using the fingerprints we’d lifted.

It. Was. Fascinating.

To quote a favourite TV character, ‘Such fun’.

Did you know . . .

  • Way back in the 1840s it was deemed unseemly to smile when having your photo taken, so instead of saying ‘cheese’, those sitting, waiting to be immortalized said ‘prunes’ to keep their faces taut. Try it.
  • Sloths, who must be up there with the cutest animals around, can hold their breath up to 40 minutes by regulating their heartbeat.
  • Slang for graveyard? Marble orchard. I rather like this.

On my bedside table at the moment is Lightning Strike, by William Kent Krueger.

1963: In Aurora, Minnesota, twelve-year-old Cork O’Connor finds a man he looked up to hanging in a tree.
Cork’s father, sheriff of the small town, investigates the man’s death believing it will be ruled suicide, which is where evidence points. Cork decides to conduct his own investigation, but both father and son find more questions are raised than answered, their world turned upside down.

I have just started this book, but having read a couple by this author already know it is guaranteed to be a goodie.

“It is never too late, to be what you might have been.”

George Eliot

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