Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA by Bridget Heos. October 4, 2016. Balzer + Bray, 272 p. ISBN: 9780062387622.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Ever since the introduction of DNA testing, forensic science has been in the forefront of the public’s imagination, thanks especially to popular television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But forensic analysis has been practiced for thousands of years. Ancient Chinese detectives studied dead bodies for signs of foul play, and in Victorian England, officials used crime scene photography and criminal profiling to investigate the Jack the Ripper murders. In the intervening decades, forensic science has evolved to use the most cutting-edge, innovative techniques and technologies.

In this book, acclaimed author Bridget Heos uses real-life cases to tell the fascinating history of modern forensic science, from the first test for arsenic poisoning to fingerprinting, firearm and blood spatter analysis, DNA evidence, and all the important milestones in between. By turns captivating and shocking, Blood, Bullets, and Bones demonstrates the essential role forensic science has played in our criminal justice system

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Descriptions of violent deaths; Prostitution



Booklist (September 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Ever heard of the Styrian defense? How about Bertillonage? Heos’ latest covers these and more, examining forensic science from its debatable conception (a 221 BCE ancient Chinese “crime-scene handbook”) to “the dawn of DNA evidence.” Through arsenic poisoning, autopsies, fingerprint evidence, and criminal profiling, Heos sheds light not only on forensic innovations but also forensic imperfections, often embedding research with court cases that are as historically crucial as they are ambiguous. The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, for example, relied heavily upon two decidedly unreliable elements: eyewitness testimonies and incomplete firearm analysis. Investigators in the Samuel Sheppard case, on the other hand—where blood spatter tests were prominently employed for the first time—were scrutinized for their preferential treatment of a wealthy, white defendant. Punctuated by fascinating photos, a smattering of educational asides, and astute pop-culture references (Dexter, Les Misérables, The Silence of the Lambs), and followed by a glossary of key terms, this is sure to appeal to wannabe FBI agents, budding history buffs, armchair detectives, and everyone in between.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
Thanks to such popular television shows as Bones and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, forensic science is typically thought of as a modern, cutting-edge dimension of criminal investigation, but this fascinating history reveals that it has been practiced for thousands of years.Two thousand years ago, Chinese coroners determined murder as cause of death through the examination of victims’ bodies. The ancient Chinese also pioneered fingerprint evidence. The first poison test was used in 1751 to prove that Englishwoman Mary Blandy murdered her father with arsenic. Heos adeptly uses many such real-life cases to chronicle the history and evolution of forensic science. England was the first country to require all coroners to be medical doctors, expanding the field of forensic pathology. English investigators also pioneered the use of firearm evidence to solve a 1794 murder. The rises of other investigative methods, such as criminal profiling, DNA analysis, forensic anthropology, and victimology, are examined in the context of such famous investigations as the Jack the Ripper murders, the Sacco and Vanzetti case, and the murder of the Romanovs in 1918. Heos also takes pains to discuss how often DNA analysis has been used to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. Vivid and occasionally gruesome but always engrossing. (photos, glossary, notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Bridget Heos is the author of I, Fly, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas, Mustache Baby, illustrated by Joy Ang, and the sequel, Mustache Baby Meets His Match. She has also written more than 80 nonfiction children’s titles, including Stronger Than Steel, with photographs by Andy Comins. The Scientists in the Field  and I, Fly were Junior Library Guild selections, and Mustache Baby has won several state awards. Bridget lives in Kansas City with her husband and four children.

Her website is

Teacher Resources

Collection of Forensic Science Lesson Plans

Forensic Detectives Activities

Around the Web

Blood, Bullets, and Bones on Amazon

Blood, Bullets, and Bones on JLG

Blood, Bullets, and Bones on Goodreads



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