Mark Mikula's Reviews > The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases

The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo
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Apr 27, 2012

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Read in April, 2012

Forensic sculptor Frank Bender almost made this book a four-star for me. Bender is one of the main figures in the account of a group of experts known as the Vidocq Society who get together in Philadelphia to serve as consultants to police departments and agencies who are struggling with cold cases. Bender's story was very compelling to me, but the book could only devote so much to him. Every time he received attention, I was more engaged.

As the story was playing out, I thought it might attempt the neat trick of having the structure of Russian nesting dolls because many of the cases that were being solved were left at a point where the evidence had been gathered, but the suspect or suspects had not been found. Maybe that was the intention at first, but since not all cases can have satisfactory conclusions, maybe not all of them could merit a full chapter for each resolution. If the book has fifty chapters, and the case of the missing student is covered in the third, I want the forty-eighth chapter to deal with its resolution. That's where I thought it was aiming, but as it turned out, most of the resolutions came through in the very end of the book.

Television crime procedurals like Law & Order and NYPD Blue, of course, do a disservice to this book because their fictional storylines can be tweaked for more effect, so maybe that influenced my overall impression of the book. Still, it was a worthy read with some nice individual resolutions to particular cases.

I also appreciate that some of the cases that could not be solved were covered in the book. It made the story more genuine.
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