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Forensics

The Anatomy of Crime
Narrated by: Sarah Barron
Length: 11 hrs and 21 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, True Crime
4.5 out of 5 stars (302 ratings)

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Summary

The dead talk. To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: how they lived, how they died--and who killed them.

Val McDermid uncovers the secrets of forensic medicine with groundbreaking research and her own experience. Along the way you’ll wonder at how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine time of death and how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer.

©2014 Val McDermid (P)2014 W.F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"McDermid has the ruthless psychological scalpel that forms part of the equipment of all good novelists, whatever their genre. And, fortunately for us, she knows just how to use it." ( Guardian)

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good book GOD AWFUL narration

What disappointed you about Forensics?

The book itself was great. The narration was AWFUL.

Who was your favorite character and why?

N/A

What didn’t you like about Sarah Barron’s performance?

First of all I should say that book is a really interesting, nicely written and well researched piece of popular science. I just wish I had read it, rather than listened to it.

The problem was not with the general reading, the narrator had a nice reading voice. But when she gets to quoting people, for some reason someone thought it would be a good idea forget to attempt regional and national accents. That was s SERIOUSLY BAD idea. It's so bad!! So very very bad. She is incapable of doing ANY accent than her own. It's cringe worthy. I was embarrassed for her!

The American accent was possibly the worst, but the regional English accents were a close second. She manages to make people, who are undoubtedly highly intelligent experts in their field, sound like dim imbeciles from a Little Britain sketch. Maybe her regional Scottish accents were better, as she is Scottish, but given how TRULY AWFUL the others were I wouldn't be surprised if they were bad too.

It's not only that the use of accents were TOTALLY distracting (I cannot truly emphasise how distracting they were) it's that the use of them was also inconsistent and at times simply incorrect. I happen to have worked for one of the people quoted in the book - Clive Stafford Smith. He's a lawyer who has represented many people on death row in the U.S. The problem is that the narrator gives him an American accent. Stafford Smith has indeed worked and lived in the States, but he's from Cambridgeshire and speaks with an English accent. He's also relatively famous and is interviewed on TV fairly regularly, so there's no mistaking his accent. So it's just lazy that they got that wrong.

I know I'm going on and on about it, but that is symptomatic of how blummin' awful it was and that it completely ruined what was actually a great book. I can actually only assume that the book was even better than I think because I thought it was pretty good despite the TERRIBLE narration. Imagine what I'd have thought of it had been good!

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The content of the book was super interesting, well researched and nicely written.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating insight

Very enjoyable listen, shows the incredible depth of research Val has done over the years and just how far forensics have come during our lifetimes. Particularly interesting to hear forensic insights into some high profile cases that I remember from the news.

Enjoyed, for the most part, the narration, my only criticism would be the varying accents used by the narrator when quoting passages from some of the experts. Some accents made me chuckle, some made me cringe. She has a lovely Scottish accent, very easy on the ear, I felt there was no real need to use different voices to emphasise the quotes of others.

Highly recommend this, especially if you are a fan of any crime writers or tv shows, not just the work of Val McDermid. Will listen again.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting content, difficult listening

I wish I could have given this book 3 1/2 stars. While the subject matter was interesting, I found the narrator's accents grating and distracting, and tone of voice heavy. I was relieved when I finally got to the end of the book!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, but ruined by the narrator's accents

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If the narrator had stuck to her own accent -- which is actually pretty authoritative, clear and wonderful -- I'd have loved to listen to the whole book.

As it is, I'm bailing out after suffering through two hours.

Sarah Barron: no more accents. Ever again.

What other book might you compare Forensics to, and why?

Unique in terms of content.

In terms of narration and the way you can be put off a really good book by a ruined narration, I'd put it up there with any one of Jot Davies's many crackers. Yes. That bad.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Sarah Barron?

Sarah Barron, minus all of her distracting regional accents.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Forensics?

The content was great, so once I return the Audible book I'm going to buy a Kindle or paper copy.

Any additional comments?

I will pay closer attention to listeners' reviews from now on. I can't pretend I wasn't warned.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

ruined by the narrator

Why oh why did the narrator have to use such phoney, annoying regional accents? The narration completely ruins the interesting and factual content of the book. Very disappointed that I was only able to listen to the book once, as I was so irritated by this dreadful narrator. The first listen was endured because of the interesting content, but the second attempt was abandoned before the end of chapter one. Peter Arnold doesn't speak in the way portrayed at all and his expertise is considerably demeanoured by it. TERRIBLE!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Very informative interesting and enjoyable. The narration was good too.i would recommend this book and look forward to the next val McDermid book .

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • RR
  • 10-05-19

What an intensely frustrating read!

Comes to the edge of maybe starting to explain something then turns tail and goes to something else. everything so shallow. One second the telling you that following electrical wiring is useful in fire investigation, here's a building where that was absolutely key. Ooh, what happened? And now we're onto the fact some dogs sniff for accelerant. Wait, where did that story about wiring go??

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Why the accent?!?!

Cool subject. Great book. But the irish accent was very irritating. What was the point? If the narrator was the author, then I get it. But for some reason, even though the narrator had proper english pronounciations throughout the book, it was chosen to go with the irish accent. No offense to irish people, but it's not a cool, soft on the ears way of speaking english. Is the book for general public or for irish people alone? Disappointing!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

very interesting - loved it!

loads of fascinating information, a real insight into the how and why world of forensics.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent examination of forensic science

This was excellently written and a very interesting history of the development of forensic science, the mispronouncation of words was grating.