Forensics

Now as all you mystery writers know, forensics are a huge part of getting the story right. I have a pathologist in my soon-to-be-published mystery novel, The Beggar’s Opera, and I have the good fortune of having two good highly accomplished friends in the medical field who help me get the details right (thanks, Greg and Mark).

But finding a crackerjack criminalist like those folks on CSI to help with actual crime scene investigations seemed out of reach. Until yesterday, when Tom Adair popped up in my email inbox.

Thomas W. Adair, as he is known in his scientific writing,  is the real deal. He’s a retired senior criminalist (CSI) and the past president of the Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction. He was triple-board certified by the International Association for Identification, and he has written all kinds of scientific papers published in notable forensic journals. 

With a only quick Google check I’ve already found a few that I’ve bookmarked: one on detecting blood under paint and finding blood traces with Luminol (that neat stuff that glows blue for a few seconds, made famous by CSI). A third I plan to read carefully is on how to make casts of footprints in snow, which is something I’ve already referred to in my third book, which is set partly in northern Canada, without knowing the science of how to do it.

Two points of interest.

First, Tom has created a cool blog on forensic evidence called Forensics4Fiction. But second, and even better,  he has offered to answer any questions that we might have.  He’s circulated an email to a number of mystery writers offering to do so, and  with his kind permission, I’ve reproduced it below. I have a feeling that despite his retirement, he’ll be a busy man:

“Hello Peggy,

My name is Tom Adair and I am a retired, internationally recognized, forensic scientist/CSI in Colorado (US).

“I am contacting writers of mystery/crime thrillers to let them know I have recently launched an informative blog, and I thought you and other mystery/crime writers you know might be interested in the information.

“I make an effort to explain the basics of forensics for authors of all experience levels. I have just started a section on historical forensics, and soon I’ll be adding some fun categories for the science fiction and fantasy/paranormal writers as well. I love to answer questions about forensics and law enforcement in general so feel free to fire away if the need arises.”

Now how cool is that?

We now have an on-call CSI expert to help us get our investigative techniques right — awesome! I look forward to picking Tom’s brain in the future — metaphorically speaking, of course– although I’m sure he could tell me how to do it literally.

I hope you take up his offer because good research builds good books, and this man is an expert in his field.

Meanwhile, do check out Tom’s blog — he has a great overview of everything from the forensic evidence involved in a car theft to how to tell if someone died in a fire.

I certainly know what I’ll be doing for the next few hours: looking up some of his other work in the field for future reference. Thanks for the email, Tom. It’s been a pleasure to hear from you.

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