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From the acclaimed author of Death in the Air comes the riveting story of the birth of criminal investigation in the 20th century.
Berkeley, California, 1933. In a lab filled with curiosities - beakers, microscopes, Bunsen burners, and hundreds upon hundreds of books - sat an investigator who would go on to crack at least 2,000 cases in his 40-year career. Known as the "American Sherlock Holmes", Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America's greatest - and first - forensic scientists, with an uncanny knack for finding clues, establishing evidence, and deducing answers with a skill that seemed almost supernatural.
Heinrich was one of the nation's first expert witnesses, working in a time when the turmoil of Prohibition led to sensationalized crime reporting and only a small, systematic study of evidence. However, with his brilliance and commanding presence in both the courtroom and at crime scenes, Heinrich spearheaded the invention of a myriad of new forensic tools that police still use today, including blood spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests, and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence. His work, though not without its serious - some would say fatal - flaws, changed the course of American criminal investigation.
Based on years of research and thousands of never-before-published primary source materials, American Sherlock captures the life of the man who pioneered the science our legal system now relies upon - as well as the limits of those techniques and the very human experts who wield them.