The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine

June 15th, 2022 Kimberly Guest Post, Review 20 Comments

15th Jun

Sophia Rose is here today with a curious book for fans of murder mysteries. The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine. Come discover the science of forensics through Agatha Christie’s novels. Grab a cuppa and read Sophia’s thoughts on this non-fiction find…

The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine
The Science of Murder
by Carla Valentine
Genres: Non-Fiction
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Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Discover the science of forensics through Agatha Christie's novels

Agatha Christie is the bestselling novelist of all time, and nearly every story she ever wrote involves one―or, more commonly, several―dead bodies. And the cause of death, the motives behind violent crimes, the clues that inevitably are left behind, and the people who put the pieces together to solve the mystery invite the reader to analyze the evidence and race to find the answer before the detective does. Nearly every step of the way, Christie outlines the nuts and bolts of early 20th-century crime detection, relying on physical evidence to tell the real story behind the facades humans erect to escape detection.

Christie wouldn't have talked of "forensics" as it is understood today―most of her work predates the modern developments of forensics science―but in each tale she harnesses the power of human observation, ingenuity, and scientific developments of the era. A fascinating, science-based deep dive, The Science of Murder examines the use of fingerprints, firearms, handwriting, blood spatter analysis, toxicology, and more in Christie's beloved works

Sophia Rose’s Review

Whether Agatha Christie fan, all-around murder mystery lover, CSI/CSE aficionado, or addicted to True Crime, a book that dives into the science of forensics does pique the interest.  As a mortician/pathologist, the Agatha Christie-loving author, Carla Valentine provides a fascinating dive into the forensics behind Christie’s mysteries and examples from real crimes of the past.

Beginning with a quick background introduction, The Science of Murder moves through eight chapters that focus on various areas of forensic study like fingerprints, trace evidence, ballistics, handwriting, impressions, blood splatter, toxicology, and more.

While discussing the technical side of gathering and studying these types of evidence, the author weaves in pertinent details of Christie’s research and books, but delightfully her real life.  There are her memberships in murder mystery writer clubs, work on her second husband’s archeological digs, and encounters with true crime and break throughs in forensics.  Naturally, the author includes details about modern forensics, but the focus is definitely on these early periods of developing the science.

Valentine’s writing style is most definitely layman-friendly and casual armchair reading.  She invites the reader to draw close as she chats and shares her love for both Christie and her career in murder.  The writing can wander a bit in a looser way and get wordy, but the style suited my expectations.  I wanted to learn more about forensics, but not in a sterile lab setting.  I liked getting scientific details paired with literary discussion.  For me, who enjoys forensic TV shows and police procedural-style fiction and non-fiction, but also several mystery fiction series, the book had new blended with familiar knowledge.  I was intrigued to follow the career of real-life medical pathologist Bernard Spilsbury along with other investigators and read about criminalist/criminologist advancements that came along during Christie’s writing years.  It was neat to see how the various facets of forensics came about from gathering all the way to presentation when the case was closed.

Oh, and if you haven’t read Christie books, there are no major spoilers here, but there will be plenty of teasers to drive one nuts wondering just what did happen in that dramatic ending of Murder of Roger Ackroyd or just how famous author, GK Chesterton’s remark about hiding a tree in a forest led to Christie writing The ABC Murders. 

Incidentally, there are photos and charts sprinkled throughout and a few indexes in the back that are helpful.

Altogether an enlightening read that quenched a little of my thirst for murder, but mostly left me wanting to dive back into my mysteries in print and visual, fictional and real. Definitely recommend to those who love murder mystery, particularly Agatha Christie’s, and want the behind the scenes and expanded version details.

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The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine is an enlightening read that will quench a little of your thirst for murder. #NonFiction #BookReview #SophiaRose Click To Tweet

About Carla Valentine

Carla Valentine

Carla Valentine works with the dead: she's your average chick who just happens to know as much about corpses as she does cocktails. After studying forensics, Carla assisted pathologists with post-mortems for years, before eventually becoming the Technical Curator of the world's most famous pathology museum. When it comes to death, she truly is a world-class expert.

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About Sophia Rose

Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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20 Responses to “The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine”

  1. Lover of Romance

    It’s always so interesting to read a book that has a cozy like vibe while reading right;? I haven’t ever read this author though but sounds so fascinating of premise.

    • Sophia Rose

      Ha, fun story about your dad. That book had my eyes bulging over that twist, too.

      This was great for feeding the mystery lover in me and with your medical background, you’d probably really enjoy it.

  2. Ailyn Koay

    interestingly, i got the same book with a different title
    I got Murder isn’t easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie.
    but the table of contents is exactly the same!

  3. Wendy

    Wonderful review, Sophia. I was worried that since I have not read anything by Agatha Christie, it might contain spoilers. So glad it doesn’t.

    • Ailyn Koay

      I read Murder of Roger Ackroyd because of this book. The author is good at no spoilers but really good hooks to make you read Christies.

    • Sophia Rose

      She was very careful to reference Christie’s books without giving away the reveal moments. I thought that was great. Thanks, Wendy!

  4. Ethan

    I’m a mystery/crime reading junkie, so I’ve read several of Christie’s novels. I love the idea of digging deeper into the science behind them. It would be cool to see this author tackle other great writers!

    Ethan recently posted: Sleepwalk by Dan Chaon
    • Sophia Rose

      Ooo, I like that idea of her taking her knowledge and investigating the behind the scenes knowledge of other great mystery writers. 🙂