The Devil's Dozen: How Cutting-Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Pub Date: 09/22/2009
Publication: Name: The Forensic Examiner Publisher: American College of Forensic Examiners Audience: Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Law; Science and technology Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 American College of Forensic Examiners ISSN: 1084-5569
Issue: Date: Fall, 2009 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 3
Topic: NamedWork: The Devil's Dozen: How Cutting-Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Ramsland, Katherine
Accession Number: 205905786
Full Text: The Devil's Dozen: How Cutting-Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers.

By Katherine Ramsland, PhD, CMI-V


Katherine Ramsland's latest book, The Devil's Dozen, once again highlights her command of history and forensic knowledge, fusing it with her interesting and approachable narrative voice. In the book, Ramsland examines the cases of 12 serial killers, offering detailed descriptions of the killers and insightful commentary on their crimes. Each chapter illustrates how these cases affected forensic developments and investigation techniques. The Devil's Dozen is a collection of some of the most fascinating cases and instances of innovative investigation. It lauds the trailblazer. Ramsland explains this collection: "Over and over, we see someone at a dead end in a frustrating investigation looking around for a technique, approach, or technology that no one had yet considered, and boldly trying it out."

Ramsland's introductory example takes us to Germany in the 1800s, when an aging woman of no means had limited options for providing for herself. Anna Maria Schonleben nee Zwanziger's most feasible solution? Get hired as a wealthy man's most dedicated servant and entice him to marry her. If the man had a wife complicating this plan, Anna could always poison her with arsenic. As the body count began to add up in Anna's attempts to safeguard her future, investigators closed in as they developed the earliest techniques of arsenic analysis. This unique case is just a teaser for the reader; though an engaging story and a remarkable tale of investigation, the German poisoner isn't even one of the focal cases of The Devil's Dozen. The 12 cases featured in the book span the course of two centuries, multiple countries, and vary in both nature of the crime and methods of investigation. Justice prevails based on the results of handwriting or chemical analysis, behavioral profiling, and even careless slip-ups by the killers. The investigating authorities were constantly developing techniques and pushing themselves beyond limits. Ramsland asserts this necessity, "Common to all the cases presented in this book are persistence, flexibility, the importance of innovative thinking, and the ability to initiate dialogues across disciplines. The Devil's Dozen is not only a series of compelling case studies, but also an inspiration to investigators.

Katherine Ramsland, PhD, CMI-V, has published 35 books, including The Devil's Dozen: How Cutting Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers and Beating the Devil's Game: A History of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation. Dr. Ramsland is an associate professor of forensic psychology and the department chair at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. She has been a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners since 1999.


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