Thank You to St. Martin's Press for providing me with an advanced copy of Dr. Vincent DiMaio and Ron Franscell's Morgue: A Life in Death, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- In Morgue: A Life in Death, veteran crime writer, Ron Franscell, teams up with pathologist, Dr. Vincent DiMaio, to explore DiMaio's long career and most important cases.
LIKE- Even though DiMaio is quick to point out that much of what we see on shows like CSI, are overdramatized and inaccurate, I can't help but mention that in recalling his most famous cases, I think that DiMaio captures the spirit of what makes those fictional crime stories, or even the way our society obsesses of real criminal trials, so intriguing: the idea of an unsolved puzzle and piecing together the clues from small details. There isn't a dull moment in any of the cases that are mentioned in Morgue: A Life in Death.
Speaking of not-dull, nothing is left to the imagination. The horrendous and disturbing details of death take up many pages. I found this surprising and fascinating, but it's certainly going to be upsetting for many readers. My father committed suicide by gunshot and I have to admit that I found the extreme details of Lana Clarkson's death by gunshot through the mouth, to provide images that I can now apply to my father, that had not previously been in my frame of reference. Did I need to know these things? Probably not. If you're squeamish or easily upset; proceed with caution. That said, these details were completely engaging and kept me glued to the book.
Many of the cases will be familiar to readers, such as Lana Clarkson/Phil Spector or the Trayvon Martin murder. Not every case is current, such as exhuming Lee Harvey Oswald's body to determine if it really was him that was buried, rather than a Russian spy or taking a closer look at Vincent Van Gogh's death. Was Van Gogh really a suicide?
I was shocked to learn that there is a great need for medical examiners. This low-paid profession ( when compared with other medical field careers) is overwhelmed with case-loads, often meaning that criminals are not being prosecuted like they should. Also, in some parts of the country, people can run for coroner as an elected official, even if they don't have medical qualifications. Crazy!
DISLIKE- Although it was interesting to learn about DiMaio's background and family life, it could have been shortened. Those sections of the book ran long and were less interesting than the case studies.
RECOMMEND- True crime fans, you need to get your hands on Morgue: A Life in Death. Grizzly, fascinating, and important.