Cover image for Encyclopedia of forensic science : a compendium of detective fact and fiction
Encyclopedia of forensic science : a compendium of detective fact and fiction
Conklin, Barbara Gardner.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Oryx Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xvi, 329 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV8073 .C595 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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If Sherlock Holmes had cracked the O. J. Simpson case, he would have done it with forensic science. Techniques and devices used to analyze crime scene evidence--and their real and fictional practitioners--have long fascinated the public. This reference covers all aspects of forensic science:

- Types of evidence

- Types of crimes or conditions

- Criminal cases

- Criminal and civil law

- The disciplines of criminal justice

- Poisons and drugs

- The evolution of forensics

- Forensic scientists and officials

- Serial killers

- Relevant literature, characters, and writers

The study focuses on the criminal and societal effects of forensic science in the United States, with attention paid to major British and French advances. The book also examines historical cases in which new techniques were first applied. Entries are arranged both alphabetically and topically, making them easily accessible to student and amateur sleuth alike.

Author Notes

BARBARA GARDNER CONKLIN is a special education teacher at Plymouth Elementary School, in Plymouth, New Hampshire. She received a B.A. from Bard College and an M.Ed. from Plymouth State College. She has coauthored two books with Robert Gardner, Health Science Projects about Psychology and Science Projects about Sports Health .

ROBERT GARDNER, former chair of the science department at the Salisbury School, in Salisbury, Connecticut, is a consultant on science education and a distinguished, prolific, and longtime author of science books for children, young adults, and adults. Among his many books are From Talking Drums to the Internet: An Encyclopedia of Communications Technology , Communication, Where On Earth Am I? , Human Evolution: Kitchen Chemistry , and Ideas for Science Projects .

DENNIS SHORTELLE is a history teacher and former chairman of the history department at Salisbury School in Salisbury, Connecticut. He is the coauthor with Robert Gardner of The Future and the Past , The Forgotten Players: The Story of Black Baseball in America , and From Talking Drums to the Internet: An Encyclopedia of Communications Technology .

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The Trace evidence entry in the Encyclopedia of Forensic Science states a principle of forensic science. According to French criminologist Edmond Locard, "Every contact leaves a trace." This resource is a guide to those traces and their use in the courtroom. The editorial team has collaborated on other projects, including From Talking Drums to the Internet: An Encyclopedia of Communications Technology (ABC-CLIO, 1997). The book has an alphabetical arrangement, with a subject index at the end. Entries cover forensic techniques; types of crimes; famous criminal cases (Lindbergh kidnapping and trial, Oklahoma City bombing); and infamous criminals (Bundy, Theodore; Jack the Ripper; Unabomber). Also included are fiction writers (for example, Patricia Cornwell) and fictional characters (for example, Sherlock Holmes). Many of the entries--for example DNA evidence, Hair evidence, and Tool marks--describe a notable case where the evidence was key to a conviction. Each entry has a recommended reading list, including Web sites. There are a bibliography and an appendix of useful Web sites at the end of the book. Cases are primarily American, though some are British and Australian. The Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice [RBB Ap 15 02] presents a broader coverage of the justice process than Encyclopedia of Forensic Science. For example, the index of the former source includes references to blood alcohol level, blood feuds, and blood money, but there is no entry on the evidentiary use of blood. The Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences (Academic, 2000) is highly scientific. Public and academic libraries will appreciate the less scholarly but informative Encyclopedia of Forensic Science.

Library Journal Review

The popularity of television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was bound to produce a general reference work on forensic science. Elementary special education teacher Conklin, science consultant Robert Gardner, and history teacher Dennis Shortelle have collaborated to write such a work. Like the three-volume Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences, edited by Jay A. Siegel and others, it illustrates the various ways that evidence can be extracted from a crime scene (e.g., ballistics, toxicology), but the style is more accessible. Though events in Great Britain and France are covered, the book's 85 entries focus on 19th- and 20th-century America. Readers will recognize some of the high-profile cases cited (O.J. Simpson, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre), which each used different aspects of forensic science to help convict or exonerate the accused. Both famous and infamous people are listed, but what makes this book different and interesting is the inclusion of novelists (e.g., Patricia Cornwell, Jeffery Deaver, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and their characters, who use forensics to solve crimes. Also included are excellent bibliographic references and lists of web sites for finding more information. Despite some repetition of topics, this is a solid resource that should be in academic libraries where forensic science is popular and in large public libraries where the demand for this topic is high.-Michael Sawyer, Northwestern Regional Lib., Elkin, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-This well-composed resource illuminates the multifaceted and complex world of this science, with a marked emphasis on how it has affected the landscape of contemporary criminology and society. The clear, alphabetically arranged entries provide a wealth of information about the types of forensic evidence, crimes, scientists, infamous criminals and serial killers, fiction writers of forensic science, detectives immortalized on television, and historical and current cases in which various techniques have been applied. Sample topics include "Arsenic Poisoning," Patricia Cornwell, "DNA Evidence," "Jack the Ripper," "Mass Spectrometry," "Rogues' Gallery," "Strychnine," and "Unabomber." British and French advances are also discussed. Authoritative references conclude the entries. Average-quality, black-and-white photos from laboratories across the nation, precise tables, and readable graphs amplify the narrative. The book ends with a thorough list of Web sites and a lengthy bibliography. This work will complement circulating titles such as Donna M. Jackson's The Bone Detectives (Little, Brown, 1996) and Andrea Campbell's Forensic Science (Chelsea, 1999), as it has more depth, perspective, and sophistication. Encyclopedia will be of great interest to students and armchair detectives.-Hillary Jan Donitz-Goldstein, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A mix of fact and fiction makes this volume interesting for armchair forensic scientists. It opens with an easy to use "Guide to Selected Topics" that lists ten broad themes of forensic science, then subdivides them into more specific topics. The authors focus on people and events from the 19th and 20th centuries, but some notorious criminals (Manson, Speck) are missing. The alphabetically arranged entries include cross-references and brief bibliographies, and vary in length from a few paragraphs to several pages. Although most entries are substantial, some are sketchy (Jack the Ripper has less than a page). Often the same crime is covered several times; the Woodchipper Murder has nine index entries, eight of which emphasize varying aspects of the criminal investigation. An appendix lists Web sites. The book contains fundamental information for armchair enthusiasts, but is not recommended for professional or research use. K. Evans Indiana State University

Table of Contents

Alphabetical Listing of Entries
Guide to Selected Topics
Entries, A-Z
Other Helpful Web Sites