Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging

Incredible Journey of the Human Mind – Forensics

Book Reviews:

Sadakat Kadri, The Trial (1)


Val McDermid: Forensics, (2)

Justice,(3) rightfulness or lawfulness is necessary for “A more perfect Union”(4).  To serve Justice,  the Truth – the factual evidence – is to be highly desired.  The earliest history of jurisprudence seldom achieved reliable and accurate evidence. in convictions and punishment.  Sadakat Kadri  (born 1964 in London) is a lawyer, author, travel writer and journalist. Kadri reviews for us the oldest attempts at the just resolution of conflicts –  the ancient Hebrews and Greeks – more or less sophisticated procedures of criminal justice.   Scapegoats (the actual animal) and other blameless third parties were used to appease the rage of the “gods”.  “The notion of justice as a religious ceremony strengthened with the dominance of the German and Scandinavian barbarians.

“The barbarians conducted trials by ‘compurgation’, that is, by jurors swearing sacred oaths as to their belief in the accused’s guilt or innocence. Christendom adopted the system, eventually replacing it with an “alternative that tapped even more deeply into the supernatural”: trial by ordeal. This method, also originating from German traditions (possibly by way of India), involved referring disputed questions to the judgment of “God”, whose miraculous intervention could be counted on to reveal the truth. An ingenious variety of ordeals emerged.  Trial by fire and trial by cold water. Suspects were thrown into lakes;  Floaters were convicted, sinkers were resuscitated and acquitted.. The defendant-friendly trial by morsel (swallowing a piece of blessed bread and cheese without choking to death was sometimes used. Then there was the trial by battle, which assumed that “God” would favour the victor in a fight between accused and accuser that remained a legal option in England until 1819″.(1)

.The jury system evolved in England, although it was not until the 15th century that witnesses played any role in trials. Other limitations of English justice were exposed by the witch trials of the 15th and 16th centuries, and, comically, by the trials of animals, corpses and inanimate objects. (1)

The Nineteen, Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries have witnessed a cornucopia of discoveries and implementation of technical tools allowing more nearly absolute accurate convictions.  Val  McDermid (2),  a Scotish author of fiction and non-fiction,  comes from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and was educated at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.  McDermid skillfully and meticulously enlightens us in the most important stepping-stones of modern forensics. ” The dead talk – to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them”.  Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, groundbreaking research, and Val McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on the scene with top forensic scientists.
“Along the way McDermid discovers how maggots collected from a corpse, can help determine one’s time of death. DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer.  An American anthropologist was able to uncover the victims of genocide. It’s a journey that took McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites.  McDermid traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern-day.”

As a physician-in-training, I did this work, including autopsies. Perhaps, because of that experience, I found the book riveting. I regretted that it had to come to an end. I listened to the Audiobook, a second time.

I highly recommend the Audiobooks edition of Forensics for the reading by Sarah Barron for the delightful Scotish melody in her voice.

Thank you for “Flying Zebra!”   If you liked this post, consider hitting my reblog button or Share on FB.

Charles Clanton Rogers  August  30, 2015

(1) : Sadakat Kadri, The Trial: A History, from Socrates to O. J. Simpson, (publisher) – August 30, 2005

(2) Val McDermid, Forensics The Anatomy of Crime, Published: Jul 07, 2015
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Audiobooks and Kindle Edition

(3) Justice | Define Justice at, the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause. 2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain of justice.

(4)  Preamble to the United States Constitution and “A More Perfect Union”[1][2] is the name of a speech delivered by then-Senator and future President Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 in the course of the contest for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

2 thoughts on ““Who Done It?”

  1. bbnewsab says:

    It’s hard for me to collect my thoughts tonight and pull myself together. But even though I’ve just glanced through your text, Karl, I can see it must have been written by a wise and learned man.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bbnewsab says:

    I found this forensic science timeline: . Interesting to follow.

    I also feel an urge to tell the incredible story from 2011, when, after a DNA analysis, the late world famous Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, for a couple of weeks, got a completely new mother: .

    Getting a new father, under hand, is not so uncommon. But a totally new mother? That, I dare say, must be close to unique.

    So the findings of forensic science/medicine should, at least sometimes, be taken “cum grano salis” (with a grain of salt).

    And with these “words of wisdom” it’s time for me here in Sweden to lock my front door and wish you, Kung Karl, and all of your followers/readers a good night’s sleep.


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