Book #10: Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand, by Dana Kollman

Begun: 2/17/2011
Finished: 2/21/2011
Format: Kindle
Rating: 1/5

I hated this book.  I wouldn’t have finished it were it not for The Project and that I needed it for the tally.

I have a longtime fascination with forensic science (which I had way before it was cool and popular, I feel compelled to point out) and studied it for a short time in graduate school, so pop-science books about it are usually a fun read.  One of my favorites of the genre is Dead Men Do Tell Tales, by the late William Maples, one of the founders of the science of forensic anthropology.

This book promised an inside look at the life of a real crime scene analyst and her adventures.  What we got were some drawn-out, not terribly interesting anecdotes with no beginning, middle or end, related by an extremely unpleasant narrator who seems to have nothing but contempt and disdain for everyone who isn’t her.  She writes her “adventures” as if she’s writing a sitcom script starring herself as the cleverest, most snarky ones, giving herself all the best smartass lines.  I say “best” with tongue in cheek, but she isn’t very funny, but clearly thinks she is.

The book is also rife with egregious editing errors.  Three times the word “hoards” is used when “hordes” is intended.  The tone is offensive, there are long tangents into things I don’t care about (such as her mother’s superstitiousness and – no kidding – the toilet habits of pretty much everybody Kollman knows), and based on the slapdash way she seems to have gone about her job I’ll be amazed if she ever gets another one once people read this book.

Not recommended.


One response to “Book #10: Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand, by Dana Kollman

  1. Can I recommend A Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum to you? The author is a Pulizer Prize winning science author. The book is about the birth of forensic science as a real science in 1920’s New York. Each chapter is named after a different poison, and you get an anecdote about a murder or an otherwise unexpected death from that agent, followed by discussion of toxicology, forensic medicine, sociology and public health as related to that case. Did you know that during prohibition, poor folks drank methyl alcohol and the US government purposely added poison to it to make it even more toxic if you drank it? It killed thousands of people. Or that radium was supposed to be good for you? Teenage girls were employed painting watch dials with radium and wet their paintbrushes by putting the brushes in their mouths. They suffered some pretty horrific health problems, which helped lead to the idea that radium was not very good for you after all.

    The link follows:

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