They call it the CSI effect. The TV show has become so popular that individuals on juries are questioning the experts because the evidence doesn’t resemble TV. Comedian and podcaster, Meshel Laurie’s latest book, CSI Told You Lies is an intriguing look behind the scenes at the professionals working in homicide and victim identification.
Laurie is perhaps best known as the co-presenter of the Australian True Crime podcast with Emily Webb. While it is clear that Laurie has a keen interest in true crime, this book began when she was asked to work on a web series for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. The institute was established in the aftermath of the Lindy Chamberlain case, and the book sees Laurie describing some of the organisation’s history.
This title covers various lines of enquiry, with Laurie bringing an informal and almost conversational style to her writing. She interviews many experts from various disciplines; including detective senior sergeant Charles Bezzina, forensic anthropologist Professor Soren Blau as well as forensic specialists Professor David Ranson, Professor Richard Bassed, Professor Stephen Cordner and Doctor Joanna Glengarry.
These experts help cover topics such as the victim identification, with a particular focus on the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, Black Saturday Bushfires and the downing of flight MH17. There are also chapters about serial killer Peter Dupas, and the killers of Eurydice Dixon and Aya Maasarwe. Cricketer, David Hookes’ passing, is also described, as it was the first time a partial autopsy and organ retrieval occurred simultaneously.
Readers that enjoy true crime, analytical deductions and problem-solving techniques should enjoy this book. Laurie keeps the proceedings interesting, as she takes us behind-the-scenes. She should be commended for exploring work that has often seemed quite invisible, save for some fleeting aspects shown on TV after the ad break.
CSI Told You Lies is quite a sweeping look at quite complicated subject matter. Some readers may be left wishing that Laurie had focused more on one particular discipline in what is ultimately a highly complex yet fascinating field. Having said that, the armchair experts will be left with at least a few things to contemplate here.
CSI Told You Lies is a book that offers respect and dignity to the victims, and the professionals working steadfastly on their behalf. While the latter have often chosen to keep a rather low profile, Laurie’s work challenges our assumptions and makes us appreciate that there is a lot more involved in their endeavours. It isn’t all fast results and Hollywood glam but rather about unpacking truths to provide families with answers. Incredible stuff.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Meshel Laurie’s CSI Told You Lies is available now, from Penguin Australia. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.