Every Contact Leaves a Trace

Crime Scene Experts Talk About Their Work from Discovery Through Verdict

Connie Fletcher

St. Martin's Press

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   Real crime scene investigation is vastly more complicated, arduous, bizarre, and fascinating than TV’s streamlined versions.  Most people who work actual investigations will tell you that the science never lies -- but people can. They may also contaminate evidence, or not know what to look for in crime scenes that typically are far more chaotic and confusing, whether inside or outside, than on TV.
   Forensic experts will tell you that the most important person entering a scene is the very first responding officer – the chain of evidence starts with this officer and holds or breaks according to what gets stepped on, or over, collected or contaminated, looked past, or looked over, from every person who enters or interprets the scene, all the way through the crime lab and trial.  And forensic experts will tell you the success of a case can depend on any one expert’s knowledge of quirky things, such as:
“The Rule of the First Victim”: (the first victim of a criminal usually lives near the criminal’s home) Criminals’ snacking habits at the scene“Nature’s Evidence Technicians,” the birds and rodents that hide bits of bone, jewelry, and fabric in their nestsThe botanical evidence found in criminals’ pants cuffs Baseball caps as prime DNA repositoriesThe tales told by the application of physics to falling blood drops.      Forensic experts talk about their expertise and their cases here.  They also talk about themselves, their reactions to the horrors they witness, and their love of the work.  For example, a DNA analyst talks about how she drives her family crazy by buccal-swabbing them all at Thanksgiving dinner.  A latent print examiner talks about how he examines cubes of Jell-O at any buffet he goes to for tell-tale prints.  A crime scene investigator gives his tips on clearing a scene of cops: he slaps “Bio-hazard” and “Cancer Causing Agent” stickers on his equipment.  And an evidence technician talks about how hard it is to go to sleep after processing a scene, re-living what you’ve just witnessed, your mind going a hundred miles an hour.
   This is a world that TV crime shows can’t touch.  Here are eighty experts – including beat cops, evidence technicians, detectives, forensic anthropologists, blood spatter experts, DNA analysts, latent print examiners, firearms experts, trace analysts, crime lab directors, and prosecution and defense attorneys – speaking in their own words about what they’ve seen and what they’ve learned to journalist Connie Fletcher, who has gotten cops to talk freely in her bestsellers What Cops Know,  Pure Cop, and Breaking and Entering.   Every Contact Leaves A Trace presents the science, the human drama, and even the black comedy of crime scene investigation.
   Let the experts take you into their world. This is their book – their words, their knowledge, their stories.  Through it all, one Sherlock Holmesian premise unites what they do and what it does to them: Every contact leaves a trace.

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Every Contact Leaves a Trace
OneCRIME SCENE PROCESSINGDo it right the first time. You only get one chance. Once things have been moved, once things have been changed, once you lose that little window of opportunity, it's gone forever.--Vernon J. Geberth, Commander, Bronx Homicide, NYPD (Ret.), Author of Practical Homicide Investigation 
A crime scene investigator has to have a positive attitude. You've got to believe you're going to find the evidence. I just learned to play golf. It helps you search the crime scene. My ball goes into the woods.

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Reviews

Praise for Every Contact Leaves a Trace

“Forget the CSI versions of TV crime scenes. Here’s the real stuff. Want to know what a forensic pathologist’s most important tool is? Connie Fletcher lets a medical examiner tell you. She’s come up with another winner.”—Elmore Leonard
 
“This is a fully engrossing book. Fascinating, tragic and telling at the same time, it is impossible to put down. Every story, every anecdote just furthers the addiction This book goes on the shelf above my desk so it will be within close reach when I need it.”—Michael Connelly
 
“Connie Fletcher’s new book is not just fascinating and real, it’s actually fun to read.”—Joseph Wambaugh
 
“Connie Fletcher’s Every Contact Leaves a Trace  manages to be both massively entertaining and educational. Fletcher’s expertly researched book captures the language, the beat, the nuance, the very essence of her subjects. A terrific book.”—Harlan Coben, author of The New York Times bestsellers No Second Chance and Just One Look

“Right on the mark. This book pertains to the real world of murder investigation as opposed to the perception created by CSI.”— Vernon J. Geberth, Commander of Bronx Homicide (Ret.), NYPD, and author of Practical Homicide Investigation
 
“Ms. Fletcher’s new book is fascinating reading. She gives the reader a close look at the real professionals of CSI.”—Henry C. Lee, Ph.D., Chief Emeritus of the Connecticut State Police Laboratory, Meriden, Connecticut
 
Every Contact Leaves a Trace is as close as you will ever get to being in the middle of a criminal investigation. Real people tell their stories. You’ll be in shock; you’ll smile and you’ll cheer the actual folks who do this work. But you won’t be able to put the book down once you start reading it!”—Barry A. J. Fisher, Crime Laboratory Director, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

“You can watch CSI for sheer entertainment, but if reality is important to you, read this book. Connie Fletcher has assembled actual stories from the real homicide cops, crime scene investigators and support folks who tell it like it really is, in their own words. It’s an easy read, full of reality.”—Captain Ray Peavey, Homicide Bureau Commander, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
 
 
“Fletcher adopts the same approach to the world of CSI that she previously used with success in What Cops Know. Excerpts from more than 80 interviews with experts at various stages of the criminal justice process, including some well-known names, such as Dr. Henry Lee and Blue Blood’s Ed Conlon, acquaint the uninitiated reader with the vast differences between television and reality. Ultra–high tech isn’t always necessary for crime solving, Fletcher shows; qualified forensic scientists can make a big difference in the search for justice even in small communities with limited resources. Many of those she spoke with express chagrin that the popular fiction TV series has given the public a false impression of the resources available to the average police force and the pace at which the analyses of DNA or trace evidence occur. One especially well-crafted section contrasts the efforts to identify 9/11 victims with a small Midwestern town’s search for the killer of a young girl. Some of the entries are a little skimpy, but readers will be drawn in to the longer excerpts and the basics of how crime scene evidence is examined.”—Publishers Weekly

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About the Author

Connie Fletcher

CONNIE FLETCHER is an associate professor of Journalism at Loyola University in Chicago, and is the author of the bestsellers What Cops Know, Pure Cop, and Breaking and Entering.

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Available Formats and Book Details

Every Contact Leaves a Trace
Crime Scene Experts Talk About Their Work from Discovery Through Verdict
Connie Fletcher

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
July 2006
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429985253
ISBN10: 1429985259
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 400 pages
$7.99
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