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The Bone Lady: Life as a Forensic Anthropologist

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  840 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
When a skeleton is all that's left to tell the story of a crime, Mary H. Manhein, otherwise known as "the bone lady," is called in. For almost two decades, Manhein has used her expertise in forensic pathology to help law enforcement agents--locally, nationally, and internationally--solve their most perplexing mysteries. She shares the extraordinary details of the often hig ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1999)
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Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
And I thought you couldn't go wrong with case study books about forensic anthropology... Half of the case studies in the book end with something to the effect of, "and we never did find out what happened." Not many of the cases were terribly interesting to begin with, not much detail is given (the average case study seems to be only 5 or 6 pages long), not a lot of forensic information is given. It's almost if this were an annotated synopsis of some cases she had to help jog her memory after she ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
I know people are going to hate me for this, but this was THE WORST FORENSINCS BOOK I'VE EVER READ!!!. Obviously, in my opinion, this lady is NOT a writer and she should stick to the science part of her career. This book had sooo much potential, I can see that, but her boring and unappealing writing made this book unbearable to read, at least in my case. Sorry for those who liked this book, but I just can't share your opinion :/
Sep 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Manhein reports on some of her cases as a forensic anthropologist.

I was disappointed with the book. Very little detail. But more importantly - the 'so what' of each chapter was very light. Her tone is friendly. And I'm sure she makes an interesting dinner table companion. But the stories were just not strong enough.
Nov 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: genre-nonfiction
This book describes some of the "interesting" cases that Forensic Anthropologist Mary Manhein has helped solve. This "Bone Lady" also tells her readers why she chose this profession as well as describes the processes of determining information about the skeletons she finds. However, her writing style made this book not very interesting. Watch Bones on Fox instead. That's way more interesting.
Gillian Brownlee
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, bones
I finally got around to finishing this book! Hooray! I started reading it when I took Ms. Manhein's introductory forensic anthropology class. I actually got to hear her talk about many of these cases in person, which was fascinating.

The Bone Lady is very short and very general, and I think that's why people take issue with it. She doesn't go into gruesome details, or share in depth processes. She simply tells the stories of the deceased that she had helped to identify. And that's why she does w
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Bones or CSI
Recommended to Ann by: Maggie
Shelves: nonfiction
frustrating lack of details. By necessity sometimes of course -- she mostly reports what the evidence tells her, and so sometimes she does not have much evidence. But even when she does, I felt like she was holding back some details either to protect the surviving family or to protect the reader from something disturbing. That's a fine line -- sometimes I am disturbed when all the facts of the case are laid out with gory intricacy, but generally I think more is better than less for me.

Side note:
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
very brief snapshots of very fascinating cases. would love to read more!
Raimey Gallant
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love how the stories incorporated and explained the terminology involved in her field. A great read for fiction writers who want an intro to forensic anthropology without having to "dig" into a textbook.
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
What is a forensic anthropologist? "We are physical anthropologists who are trained in the human skeleton, and we use that training in a medico-legal context to assist law enforcement."

The real live "Bone Lady," Mary Manhein, answers this and another questions with smooth narrative and a Southerner's story-telling charm.
A Louisiana State University graduate who didn't begin undergraduate studies until her early thirties, Manheim weaves her own autobiography into the short book's twenty-seven cha
There are a lot of bad reviews that almost turned me away from reading this book. I decided oh well and stayed up all night reading it.
This book could have been great but was a bit dry. Some of the stories were interesting but there was just no depth or emotion. I think a part of it may be is that though written in 1999 it feels a bit outdated. Living in a world of crime shows and popular true crime books this book falls flat.
I think it would make an interesting read for young adults interested
Sharon Dodge
Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Although I gave it only 3 stars, I greatly enjoyed this book. In short, it is comprised of simple true short stories (with names changed, of course), told in a thoroughly southern style. This is as much its strength as its weakness; while you're lefting wishing for more details, the simple factuality of it all makes any single story far more fascinating than a bloated TV episode. It's so much better written, in fact, than the novels by a certain better-known forensic anthropologist, that I'm a l ...more
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a very quick read. Each chapter is only a few pages long at most and doesn't disappoint in the cultural-sociological aspect, but was quite dumbed down in regards to the actual physical forensics, which was disappointing to me. I was really hoping for something a bit more technical. Instead it was kind of like reading obituaries with all the interesting stuff added in. ::Well how did Mr. Doe actually die? Oh, with a candlestick in the library to the back of the head?:: Not as glamorous ( ...more
Manda Werhun
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mine
Some readers didn't like this book because of its length and lack of forensic depth into cases. I however did like this book. I think what most people are forgetting is that although anthropologists are scientific based they are also story tellers. I think what Mary set out to do was to tell a good story, I don't believe her focus was to write a science based book. So factoring that into my review I very much enjoyed it and look forward to reading Mary's other titles.
A nice little read in betwe
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It was a GREAT book! It was not long enough for me. I read a book a long time ago in another life about Forensic Anthropology and thought if only I had time and brains...
This woman has so many interesting (but sad) stories. I have not checked to see if she has written anything else but if not, she should!
I read this book in less than a day.
Alicia Wozniak
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book inspired me to go back to school for my Ph.D. in Forensic Anthropology. I already have a BA in Communications from OSU. I did go back and took a freshmen level Anthropology class. I cheated my way through that class and decided Dr. Wozniak sounded awesome, but wouldn't be a reality. However, this book is a good read about the author's life as a Forensic Anthropologist.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The lady that wrote this book taught my Intro to Physical Anthropology course in college. She is one of my most memorable professors. When we studied primates, she came to class one day dressed in a gorilla costume and acted out gorilla behavior for us. I loved going to her class and I almost became a forensic anthropologist in part because of her. Her book is a very interesting read.
Susan Louque
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Totally loved this. Got to meet Mary Manhein and she signed my book. My favorite story in the book was about the coffin found with what the homeowner thought was a small child's bones. Mary Manhein said that is was small dog who had arthritis. She was proven correct a week later by a previous homeowner who said if they would dig 3 feet over the other dog's coffin would be found.
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Boring and poorly written. Has very little about forensic anthropology, is mostly a few, brief vignettes from her life. Very little research or background on the cases given.
If you want to know more about Mary Manheim, you might be interested. If you want to know more about forensic anthropology, skip it. 3/26/2011
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It amazes me that each time I read a book about Forensic Anthropology, I learn more and more about the human body. This was a very quick read, but I am glad that I had read several other books on the subject prior to this book.
Annette Roman
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Meh. Could have been a lot more in-depth and interesting. Spare and informative rather than overwrought and overwritten, which is appreciated from a writer who is not a writer by profession, but... Meh.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
loved the format; chapters were anecdotal but increased the reader's understanding of what Manhein's job is like. her voice was clear throughout the book and felt conversational. interesting but glad it was short; I don't see how she would've added much more.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
A quick, easy read but not a good one.
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was ok

I gave this one 2 out of 5 stars. For me the chapters were too short and I was left always wishing for the stories to be fleshed out. Many were based around her childhood. An example would be that she starts one story out talking about how she's been sent on a mission to get horse bones for an insurance company that wants her to prove that the horses were starved to death. Within 2 paragraphs she tells us what her objective is and that she can't do it due to the fact that she really doesn't work
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Morning read-aloud. L gave it 4.5 (man she digs this stuff [pun intended]). K gave it 3. If you like short forensic case studies written to the layman, and which are a little bit dated at this point, sure, read this one.
Shannon (Mrsreadsbooks)
The Bone Lady is broken up into many short chapters, after the introduction, that are each basically case studies of forensic anthropology cases. The author, Mary Manheim, worked as a forensic anthropologist in Louisiana at Louisiana State University. She worked both in historic and modern forensic cases. The book was very interesting and presented a wide variety of differ t case studies.

However, she does use a great deal of technical terminology in regards to osteology and anthropology. There w
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I enjoyed the cases discussed for the most part, it being my field of interest, however I do wish they had been more in depth. One of my favorite things was sitting in class and listening to my professor recount her stories of past cases. What factors were the most useful in the case, what challenges she faced, and how it turned out.

Manheim does something like this with one of the first cases she discusses, and the rest are abbreviated accounts. It read very much like have an idle conversation
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I started becoming interested in forensic anthropology through the show "Bones". This book increased my knowledge of bones and kept my interest. Manhein, a woman forensic anthropologist from Louisiana and professor at LSU, proved to me that a successful career in forensic anthropology is quite plausible for me, but I wish that there had been more detail and explanation with the cases.
Feb 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-checkout
A series of vignettes about the author's work as a forensic anthropologist, an anthropologist trained in examining human skeletal remains and determining age, gender, time since death, and possible causes of death. Interesting little stories and brief insights into why Manhein finds her job so satisfying. If you're looking for a book with an overarching theme or in-depth information on forensic anthropology, this is not the book you're looking for, and I'm not sure there's enough detail to satis ...more
Bailey Hull
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
What I thought about The Bone Lady was that it was very similar in structure to The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Not at all similar in plot, that's definitely not what I mean. What I mean is that this book is a bunch of short stories about a forensic anthropologist's life over the course of 50+ years. At the end of the book, I did feel like I had learned a little more about forensic anthropology, but I wasn't satisfied with how it ended, there wasn't any closure.
Very informative, just not as enter
Royce Ratterman
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
A short overview of cases in the career of Forensic Anthropologist Mary Manhein.
Not a fast-paced crime novel, but a simple window in to what one can expect within this field.
Read for personal research. I found this work of immense interest.
This work is one of my resource sources while ghost authoring the novels of E.MH Ratterman.
I found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.
Overall, this work is also a good resource for the rese
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Mary H. Manhein is director of the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Laboratory and instructor of anthropology at Louisiana State University. A fellow in the physical anthropology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, she is also deputy coroner of East Baton Rouge Parish.

For almost 2 decades, Manhein has used her expertise in forensic anthropology to help law
More about Mary H. Manhein...