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Book Review of Craniofacial Identification in Forensic Medicine (edited by Clement and Ransom ), by Bowers (Forensic Science Communications, April 2000)

Book Review of Craniofacial Identification in Forensic Medicine (edited by Clement and Ransom ), by Bowers (Forensic Science Communications, April 2000)

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April 2000 - Volume 2 - Number 2

Book Review

Craniofacial Identification in Forensic Medicine
Edited by John G. Clement and David L. Ranson
Oxford University Press, New York, 1998
ISBN 0-340-60759-9

Complemented by good photographs, graphics, and up-to-date references, Craniofacial Identification in Forensic Medicine carries the reader from cradle to grave with regard to medico-legal death investigations and facial reconstructions. The bulk of this textbook describes the methods used in determining the identity and physiognomy of deceased and missing persons from cranial features that give shape to the face. It is accompanied by an examination of techniques employed in crime scene evaluation and collection. Beyond a discussion of laboratory and investigative work, the book describes how to communicate scientific findings to the police, courts, and general public.

The circumstances that present challenges in the field of forensic identification require application of a variety of sciences. The interplay of forensic pathology and the disciplines associated with human identification is emphasized in Part 1.

Criminal investigative techniques from the crime scene to the laboratory, including descriptions of photographic methodology, superimposition, and facial approximation, are explored in Part 2. Techniques involved in the two- and three-dimensional modeling of skeletal features are clearly presented, as is acknowledgment of their limitations.

Part 3 of Craniofacial Identification in Forensic Medicine provides a discussion of the biological determinants of facial development and elaborates on age-related changes to the facial features.

The final section of the text is devoted to medico-legal issues and includes an article on forensic art by William Haglund, forensic anthropologist and author of Forensic Taphonomy (CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 1998, ISBN 0-8-493-94341). Haglund takes a practical approach in his discussion of face building, its role in police work, and its impact in the general community. David Ranson's article on the presentation of evidence adds the perspective that an effective delivery of expert testimony in court is the final stage in a process beginning with and founded upon the initial investigation. Reflecting shades of Sherlock Holmes, Ranson recommends a magnifying glass as standard investigative equipment. The final paper in Part 4, an analysis of death investigations and the justice system by Ian Freckelton, puts English and Australian case law on stage with a well-referenced discussion of legal issues surrounding expert testimony.

Rounding out the 306-page book are the Appendices, which contain procedures and equipment for crime scene investigations and evidence packaging, dental charts and listings of chronological tooth development, guidelines for the radiography of cranial material, and report-writing checklists.

For those interested in the opinions and procedures of well-respected professionals in forensic medicine, this text is a recommended and informative read.

Reviewed by: C. Michael Bowers
  Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office
  Ventura, California


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