16
Feb
12

CBR4 #9: Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner by Michael Baden

I know, I know–once again with the medical examiner books. I’m sorry, but I just can’t help it. The whole process is so interesting to me. I’m consistently amazed at the amount of information a forensic specialist can pull from tiny bits of biological evidence.

Dr. Michael Baden is one of the more famous medical examiners in the country–he worked on many historic cases, including the investigation into the Kennedy assassination, John Belushi’s death, and the OJ Simpson case. He’s also had a television program detailing his work on HBO.

The book was well-written, and Dr. Baden tries to be educational without being too dry or boring. There are a variety of cases with a variety of outcomes, and each attempts to be illustrative of a specific technique or method.

Unnatural Death is a pretty good example of the genre, though it necessarily goes over some of the same ground covered by the previous works. I will say that Dr. Baden spends more time that I thought necessary complaining about the politics involved in being the medical examiner in a large city. He had a bunch of political and legal issues that occurred back when Ed Koch was the mayor of New York City. I kept forgetting that the book is more than twenty years old, so all these slights were still fresh when he wrote it. I found it a bit petty and unrelated to the focus of the work, though.

On the whole, this is a pretty good read, and the fact that so many celebrities and famous cases were mentioned lends itself to a certain type of prurient interest. I confess that while I mostly read because I find forensic pathology fascinating, I am (like most people) not immune to a little celebrity gossip now and then.

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