Help From Experts

I love doing research for the Alexa Glock forensics mysteries. I am not an odontologist like Alexa, or a forensic investigator (except in my fantasies!), yet my mysteries center around them. Here are two ways I achieve credibility: I do careful research and I have experts in the field read over what I write. These experts are my rock stars!

While writing The Bone Track, I began working with a forensic science researcher who specializes in fingerprint comparisons. Here are two ways she helped me:

In a draft of The Bone Track, Alexa thought the smooth cork handle (of a hiking pole) would be rife with fingerprints. After reading this, my expert said: “Cork would be a horrible background (we call it “substrate”) because it is so patterned and that pattern will pick up the fingerprint powder and be pulled up by the tape.” The lifted prints would have a distracting pattern running through them that would make them difficult to see.

Also in an early draft, I had Alexa dipping a dead person’s fingers in hot water to break rigor so she could take fingerprints. My expert said, “I love that you brought in hand-boiling method! This is a fairly new method that is still gaining widespread knowledge and acceptance and it is so cool. That said, you’re not using it quite right. Hand-boiling is not used to break rigor – it’s used to plump the ridges back up and make them recordable when the body has been waterlogged.” She gave me suggestions for breaking rigor, which included using brute force. She said, “ I’ve had to physically jump up and down trying to break rigor on someone before.” (See how Alexa does it in The Bone Track!)

I am working on the 4th Alexa Glock novel. A forensic pathologist in New Zealand is reading my scenes. She is amazing, too! She has helped me understand New Zealand’s death investigation system.

She pointed out that the timeline in Book 4 and the extent of decomposition in the body don’t align: “You can have the rate of decomposition sped up by a higher temperature in the bunker, which would be believable if the ventilation system has been plugged up. You could also have the body with the head downward, which would cause more blood to pool in the face and speed up decomposition in the face.”

Done and dusted! (YOU now have a sneak preview of The Bone Riddle.)