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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

American Sherlock

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐

"Berkeley, California, 1933. In a lab filled with curiosities--beakers, microscopes, Bunsen burners, and hundreds upon hundreds of books--sat an investigator who would go on to crack at least two thousand cases in his forty-year career. Known as the "American Sherlock Holmes," Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America's greatest--and first--forensic scientists, with an uncanny knack for finding clues, establishing evidence, and deducing answers with a skill that seemed almost supernatural.

Heinrich was one of the nation's first expert witnesses, working in a time when the turmoil of Prohibition led to sensationalized crime reporting and only a small, systematic study of evidence. However with his brilliance, and commanding presence in both the courtroom and at crime scenes, Heinrich spearheaded the invention of a myriad of new forensic tools that police still use today, including blood spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests, and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence. His work, though not without its serious--some would say fatal--flaws, changed the course of American criminal investigation."


American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI is a nonfiction novel by Kate Winkler Dawson.

Originally rated this a 3.5 star, but I don't remember a single thing about this book...

I vaguely remember that this was kind of interesting in terms of the actual forensic information, but that was weighed down by the personal stories being told.

If you go into this thinking it will be more alongside true crime, you might want to think twice about picking this up.

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