Christiane's Reviews > The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science

The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr
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's review
Jan 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, true-crime
Read in January, 2011

At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher terrorized the French countryside, eluding authorities for years by simply moving from one district to another. This is his story, as well as the story of two men who eventually bring him to justice: Emile Fourquet, who painstakingly connects the crimes and tracks Vacher down, and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era's most renowned criminologist. It is a fascinating account of how science came to be used in the battle against crime as experts used microscopes, tests to detect human blood, Bertillon measurements (this was before fingerprints) to try and find the guilty. The book also talks about the "born criminal" theories of Cesare Lombroso who believed the tendency to commit crimes is genetic, something Lacassagne discounted, but that still seems to crop up with disturbing frequency even today.

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