Review: American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI

American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson

American Sherlock is a biography of Oscar Heinrich, an early 20th century private detective (or "criminalist") and an early pioneer of forensic techniques, told mostly through "true crime" stories about selected cases that he took on.

The true crime stories provide a good understanding of the many forensic techniques Heinrich pioneered. But the cases Winkler Dawson chose to highlight are a mixed bag for Heinrich - they seem to be the cases that were the most newsworthy at the time, but in most of them his forensic testimony does not lead to a conviction. Which leaves you to wonder why the newspapers called him the "American Sherlock".

As to biography, outside of work / famous cases it's unevenly told, and overall paints a picture of a person who was aloof, with supreme self confidence in his methods and abilities, who looked down on his competitors, and who, it would seem, would have been difficult to get along with.

I rate American Sherlock 2 Stars ⭐⭐ - it was okay, but I don't know that I can really recommend it. I will say that I listened to the audiobook on this one, while puttering around in the greenhouse, and if you are tempted to pick it up, I suspect the audiobook is the route to take.

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