I’ve been seeing a lot of books right now on the development of forensic science — some good, some rather repellently enjoying the gore (*gives girlish shudder*). One that stands well above the rest is Douglas Starr’s The Killer of Little Shepherds: The Case of the French Ripper and the Birth of Forensic Science.
Starr is co-director of the Science Journalism Program at Boston University, and I am willing to bet dollars to doughnuts (jam-filled, please) that it was his publisher who insisted on that subtitle. The ‘Birth of Forensic Science’ is clearly so much closer to his heart than the ‘French Ripper’, and Lacassagne, his French Alfred Swaine Taylor (without the hubris, pomposity or simple sheer pig-headedness. But I digress), is his hero, and now one of mine, too, if only for his shining belief in the ultimate goodness of rationality and humanity.
I reviewed it in the Spectator, here, but do go and get a copy, too!