Forensic Mysteries Analysis

The Forensic Sciences

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Although almost any science or technology can be applied to criminal investigations, a limited number of established professional areas have found their way firmly into both fiction and fact. They primarily deal with three areas: the study of human remains in forensic medicine or forensic anthropology, the study of criminal behavior in forensic psychology or profiling, and the examination of evidence, or criminalistics. Criminalistics uses a variety of scientific processes to answer questions relating to biological evidence; trace evidence; impression evidence, such as fingerprints, footprints, tire tracks, and bloodstains; controlled substances; ballistics; and other evidence. Criminalistics often plays a crucial role in the resolution of investigations that are regularly reported in the news media and depicted in mystery fiction.

Although the forensic sciences have been used to investigate almost every conceivable type of crime, from theft and fraud to kidnapping and assault, the type of crime most commonly investigated in mystery and detective fiction is murder. Among the most common specialties in the forensic sciences pertaining to murder investigations are these:

Forensic anthropology—application of physical anthropology to identify bodies and causes of death

Forensic ballistics—science of identifying firearms and ammunition

Forensic entomology—examination of insect evidence surrounding human remains to determine conditions of death

Forensic graphology—handwriting analysis

Forensic odontology—study of teeth for identification

Forensic pathology—analysis of causes of death

Forensic photography—accurate photographic reproduction of crime scenes

Forensic psychology and psychiatry—legal aspects of human behavior or criminal profiling

Forensic sculpting—facial reconstruction

Forensic toxicology—study of the effect of drugs and poisons