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Forensic Detective: How I Cracked the World's Toughest Cases
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Forensic Detective: How I Cracked the World's Toughest Cases

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  449 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Death. It’s not only inevitable and frightening, it’s intriguing and fascinating–especially today, when science continues to make ever more stunning advances in the investigation of the oldest and darkest of mysteries. To discover the how and why of death, unearth its roots, and expose the mechanics of its grim handiwork is, at least in some sense, to master it. And in the ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,413)
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Michelle Ng
As a huge fan on CSI and Bones, I expected a lot from this book. The book is rather interesting but I find it places too much emphasis on the background story of the victims/deceased. It says a lot more background details about soldiers who died in wars. I'd prefer if the author gives us more details of the forensic processes instead. Could it be the author thought it might be too boring for the readers? I wouldn't know. But I couldn't help feeling a bit of disappointment when I finished reading ...more
Brenna Heagney
Apr 12, 2015 Brenna Heagney rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting subject matter but the authors penchant for stating the obvious over and over and pondering/ philosophising in a very heavy handed way was torturous. It doesn't even compare to Jeff Benedicts 'No Bone Unturned' about forensic anthropologist Doug Oswley - a fascinating and beautifully drawn semi-biography. 1 star!
Michelle
Aug 07, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Every chapter is about a different case that Dr. Mann helped work on. Surprisingly, more than half of them were about identifying the bodies of American soldiers around the world that were reported as Missing in Action (soldiers that fought in WWII, the Cold War and the Vietnam War). One chapter was even about how he helped identify a soldier that was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington. So cool! It was cool to read about his journey through academics, too - he didn't get his ...more
Dakota Deardorff
Nov 05, 2015 Dakota Deardorff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
I really enjoyed the book ‘Forensic Detective” by Robert Mann. It is about the author, who is a forensic anthropologist (the study of bodies found at crime scenes that have been mutated, burned, decomposed, etc. or the study of mass graves/large groups of decomposed bodies) and how he solves some of the toughest crimes around the world and also how he got to being what he is. The cover of the book especially got my attention because it has a “crime scene-look” and I am very interested in crimino ...more
Diane
Feb 18, 2009 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"When the dead reveal some of their most sensational, macabre, and poignant tales, more often than not it’s Mann who’s been listening. Now, in this remarkable casebook, he offers an in-depth behind-the-scenes portrait of his sometimes gruesome, frequently dangerous, and always compelling profession."

Interesting cases and information however the narrative could have used a little help. The book gets very dry at the end.
Kristina
Not as interesting as the much exaggerated title makes it to be. Plus, he (the author) didn't crack these cases all on his own. His writing style is boring and filled with cliches and leaves much to be desired. A chore to get thru--I don't recommend.
Aj Baker
Dec 30, 2010 Aj Baker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book on forensics. The author himself is a very interesting man, having been homeless for a while before going back to school to study forensic anthropology under Bill Bass.
Anne Marshall
A fantastic look at forensic anthropology. Interesting and informative without being dull.
Amy
Apr 04, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I found this book well written and easy to read, amusing at times, especially the part where the author mentions a time in his life where he was homeless and awoke hungover on a beach. It is a biography in a sense, but also gives insight on how forensic anthropology works. A good first hand account of working at the "Body Farm", something I've always been curious about. Being someone who is going into a university and studying in the stream of forensic science, I found this book provided me some ...more
Asuka
Oct 17, 2013 Asuka rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love forensic science, plus I had a whole day I had to kill at a hospital, so I read through most of this book then. This book is on forensic anthropology and not on any other sciences, which was disappointing. And despite the byline saying "How I Cracked...", many of the cases he mentioned were either not solved, or solved with combination of many other factors. It reads more like his diary as he looks back to his life, rather than a non-fiction on forensic anthropology. There is so much abou ...more
Richard Ward
A collection of professional memoirs by a forensic anthropologist. The subtitle is hyperbole, to say the least, though he does tell us how he cracked some hard ones. He also tells about some that he was not able to solve. True crime fans will find some chapters enjoyable, though the book is more for readers into hard science. I'm not, and so I found myself skim-reading through some of the more technical stuff.
Kim
Jan 28, 2015 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book! Anyone who is a fan of true crime or anthropology would really enjoy this narrative. Written not in scientific jargon, but instead from an entirely human voice with all that entails, including mistakes, upsets, nervousness, the works.
Sarah
Apr 22, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an look into the work of a forensic detective through individual case studies. Although it started off interesting, the cases all became really similar after a while and I thought the book got rather boring/repetitive in nature (although I know his work is extremely important, esp to the families involved). I would have been interested to learn more about the author's personal journey--going from a directionless, trouble-prone teenager/young adult to being a leader in this complex ...more
Linda
Jan 28, 2016 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad there are people who want to do this job. I'm glad that I don't have to be one of them!
Tris Kelsey
It was alright. Interesting, by it didn't fit the purpose as to why I wanted to read it.
Kasandra
Parts of this were completely fascinating, but others were dry and boring. Kind of a mixed bag. I did learn quite a few things, including that bone fragments from 2 different bones in the same body can be differentiated by texture, grain, and coloration.... stuff like that. Would have liked more photos, and since the author took this book partly into autobiographical territory, I'd have liked that "fleshed out" (pardon the pun) a bit more. The title is misleading, he works in groups, and it's a ...more
M Harris
Jan 22, 2016 M Harris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as Death's Acre by Dr. Bass, but pretty interesting!
Linda
See first entry of review. Skimmed second half, and I don't think I missed anything.
Sue
Sep 02, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crimen
Well, I loved it. I read about 100 books a year, mostly from the library but I knew I had to add this one to my collection within the first ten pages. Easy to read, nice juicy details, good pictures (wish there were more), will recommend this one to my teenagers. Dr. Mann is down-to-earth (real) and didn't spend too much time on his own autobiography--just enough, I would say.
Olwen
Jul 20, 2015 Olwen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting reading, but not for the squeamish!
Debbie Jarrell
Aug 19, 2011 Debbie Jarrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're into shows like CSI, you have to read this. I read this one in two days. It's broken into chapters about different cases where the identity of a person or persons was determined by their bones. Cases like Jeffrey Dahmer, some POW/MIA cases. Some info about the Body Farm. Very interesting and easy to read, with some pictures.
Sarai
I skipped several chapters in this book. It did not have the detailed information I enjoyed from Death's Acre, nor the humor of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers. It did discuss some famous serial killers/disasters and the forensics used to catch them, but did not go into any kind of detail on techniques or changing science.
Janna
Oct 14, 2011 Janna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. The cases were in chronological order and I enjoyed reading about forensic anthropology and how Dr. Mann got to be where he is. I was a little disappointed that, although the title says "how I cracked the world's toughest cases", there were multiple cases that remain unsolved!
Madonna Analla
Aug 20, 2013 Madonna Analla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book not to read when you are eating. But very interesting and fascinating to learn about everything you can find out by examining bones. His personal story is also very interesting and inspirational. I definately recommned this book to people who read true crime.
Pau Autajay
Aug 17, 2012 Pau Autajay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was in grade 5 and usually a kid would get frighten with all the gory detail but the way it was written made it seem like I was reading a horror fairy tale which is not so bad. I re-read it when I was in 4th year high school and I was still drawn to it.
Joanie
Jan 11, 2014 Joanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love geeky science stuff.
Wendy
Feb 04, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book. It was fascinating. It's all true situations that the author participated in helping to solve. Who knew we could learn so much about a person just by looking at their bones? It's a lot like the show Bones.
Diana
Mann tells some of his cases, most notably the 9/11 Pentagon case and Army identification cases.

Some cases are enthralling, but it drags after a while and the author doesn't really connect what has happened between them.
Cheryl Jensen
Aug 11, 2015 Cheryl Jensen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: forensics
Highly overstated title, overly wordy descriptions. Learning there are leeches who can stand on their tales and grab onto you as you pass by created a whole new phobia.
Sharon
Apr 23, 2010 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sharon by: Jennifer Fitzsimmons
The cover has "if you like CSI, you'll enjoy this book". They really should have "if you enjoy Bones, you'll enjoy this book". I found it facsinating!
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