Tuesday, August 1, 2017

999 CSI by Larry Henderson, Kris Hollington

book cover
999 CSI:
Blood, Threats and Fears
by Larry Henderson,
Kris Hollington

ISBN-13: 9781910670804
Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Released: Dec. 1, 2015

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Machine guns, safe-blowers, sadomasochists, pythons and flesh-eating viruses, all in a day’s work for Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) Larry Henderson who, in 999 CSI provides an unforgettable insight into a life dedicated to forensics.

Larry, whose career with London’s Metropolitan Police started in 1971, a time when police officers were more than a little sceptical of science, soon proved his worth and attended every kind of crime scene, from terrorism to rape and from blackmail to murder - before he became the head of the Flying Squad’s forensic team during the busiest and most dangerous period of the legendary outfit’s existence. Soon, Larry was caught up in shoot-outs, pavement ambushes, record-breaking drug deals and tiger kidnappings, confronting some of the UK’s most terrifying villains along the way.

Larry’s groundbreaking work features some of the UK’s most notorious crimes - a key piece of forensic evidence from one of Larry’s murder cases is displayed at Scotland Yard’s infamous Crime Museum. At turns breathtaking, fascinating, hilarious and tragic, 999 CSI opens up a truly astonishing world that most people never get to see, a world filled with cruelty, matched only by the courage of those who work tirelessly for justice.

My Review:
999 CSI is a memoir about Larry Henderson's years working as a Scenes of Crime Officer in London. He worked as a SOCO from 1972 to 1994 in various districts (Sutton, Wimbleton, New Malden, BatterSea, Royal A District) plus the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory and the Flying Squad. He talked about some of the cases he was involved in as a crime scene examiner (grouped by district) as well as the people he worked with and some of how the work affected his home life. He covered a great variety of cases: robbery, burglary, fatalities of various sorts, bomb threats, blackmail, rape, bestiality, drug raids, arson, kidnapping, protests, riots, and more.

For each case, he briefly described what he did at the scene and his interactions with the victim if he thought it was interesting. Since he didn't want to teach criminals how to get away with a crime, he didn't give much detail about the techniques used to catch them. Combine that with most of the cases being robberies and burglaries, and you don't need to worry about gory descriptions (though you get the feeling that it's there). He did detail his grievances with some of his bosses, though. This is the second British policing book that I've read, and both seem to feel that politics within the police/detective/forensics system is preventing that system from working well.

It was interesting to see how the scene examiners worked during those years and what the author contributed to how future generations will do that job. It was also interesting to see how a variety of crimes were handled. However, since we only get the evidence collection aspect of the job for much of the book, it did get a little repetitive. I found the Flying Squad part more interesting because he had to think about the bigger picture as he coordinated multiple people. Plus he was often on the scene when the action happened. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting memoir.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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