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Traces

The Memoir of a Forensic Scientist and Criminal Investigator
Narrated by: Antonia Beamish
Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, True Crime
4.5 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)

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Summary

In Traces, Professor Patricia Wiltshire will take you on a journey through the fascinating edgeland where nature and crime are intertwined. 

She'll take you searching for bodies of loved ones - through woodlands, along hedgerows, field-edges, and through plantations - solving time since death, and disposal of remains, from ditches to living rooms. 

She will give you glimpses of her own history: her loves, her losses, and the narrow little valley in Wales where she first woke up to the wonders of the natural world. Pat will show you how her work with a microscope reveals tell-tale traces of the world around us, and how these have taken suspects of the darkest criminal activities to court.

From flowers, fungi, tree trunks to car pedals, walking boots, carpets, and corpses' hair, Traces is a fascinating, unique, and utterly compelling audiobook on life, death, and one's indelible link with nature.

©2019 Patricia Wiltshire (P)2019 Bonnier Books UK

Critic reviews

"Engrossing, emotionally honest and forensically fascinating." (Dr Richard Shepherd, author of Unnatural Causes

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    5 out of 5 stars

Really interesting!

A very interesting take on an aspect of forensic science that is seldom thought about but which seems to be intrinsic in solving many of these high-profile cases, and putting away criminals or even exonerate innocent people.

The narration is exquisite and very engaging. Would recommend.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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fascinating

loved it, so much fascinating information, but why do criminals share shoes? an excellent listen

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing for anyone with any prior knowledge

Just because a person is literate, it does not guarantee that they are literary and “Traces” is an exemplar of the type of memoir that would have been better executed as biography. I don’t blame the author; I blame the editor, who appears to have just run the manuscript through a spell-checker and nodded it through to the printers. To be fair to the author, I was more interested in the science than her personal history, but the writing was so clunky and repetitious that (in the audiobook version, at least) it swiftly became tedious.



As for the nitty-gritty of the author’s forensic work, there was surprisingly little actual technique described. For example, on a trip to Albania, following a runaway killer, she mentions that the British team found the Albanian fingerprint system better than their own. And then left it at that, without a hint of why they thought this; utterly frustrating for the listener. 

Also, a decent editor would have taken care of the endless clangers like, “aeons of time” which instantly dragged attention from the narrator. Speaking of whom…

The narrator has a rather lovely tone and cadence but was obviously not working in her comfort zone with this type of material. I got the feeling that she is more used to light fiction. She mispronounced relatively common technical terms and words, like “KalISHnikov” instead of “KalASHnikov”, which was mighty distracting and only really came alive when the text gave her the opportunity to dramatise verbatim dialogue.

The quality of audiobooks has improved massively in recent years but it seems as though professional readers are not paid enough to pre-read books and prepare for the words or syntax which sometimes trip them up and derail the flow of the story for the listener. A half-decent producer would pick this sort of thing up but I’m guessing that they aren’t budgeted for either.

I’m clearly in the minority and I’m happy that most people enjoy the book. But for anyone wanting either hard science or rich biography, this is thin pickings.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful