(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Contemporary television programming devoted to scientific advances in criminal investigations enjoys a wide following. Viewers find new methods of nabbing the criminal element nearly irresistible. However, such programming may have resulted in a simplification of crime solving and a sense of complacency amongst its followers: Draw blood from the accused. If the DNA matches the stains found at the scene of the crime, conviction is assured. Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA serves as a reminder that it was not always this way, and that dedicated, sincere police work does not always result in justice.

The first part of the story highlights the crime and the investigation. Kirk Bloodsworth is merely mortal. His choices regarding his habits, his companions, and his romantic relationships are not always wise. His behavior leads to suspicion in July, 1984, when nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton is found raped and murdered. Summoning what dignity his life circumstances allot him, Bloodsworth protests his innocence, but the evidence against him is suggestive. One of the multiple tragedies in Bloodsworth is that no one can accuse the authorities of not trying. The investigative teams put their own spin on what witnesses say, but author Tim Junkin illustrates how their conclusions appear quite reasonable, and Bloodsworth’s initial conviction seems justified.

The remainder of the story discloses how Kirk Bloodsworth maintains his composure even in the face of a second conviction. He is profoundly shaken when he becomes convinced that a new strain of science, called DNA profiling, will finally set him free. Tim Junkin treats contemporary criminal investigation addicts to pervasive despair over a true injustice, and the restoration of faith in investigative forces who genuinely do their best.