Behind-the-scenes look at forensic pathology

Book review

Autopsy by Ryan BlumenthalPublished by Jonathan Ball

In his introduction, Ryan Blumenthal writes that as a forensic pathologist in South Africa he has investigated thousands of deaths, many of them bizarre, others fascinating.

Some cases are, indeed, stranger than fiction. Blumenthal shares some of these cases, from necklacing, gunshot and knife wounds to electrocution and poisoning from traditional medicine.

And then there are deaths due to labour issues, such as strikes, gruesome road crashes with cars hitting anything from donkeys to hippos.

Thunderstorms and lightning are a regular occurrence in cases. In fact Blumenthal has published widely in the fields of lightning, suicide and other areas involving the pathology of trauma.

On a knife edge, I zoomed through this addictive page-turner sometimes terrified but always excited wondering what would come next.

A shocker for me is the conditions that pathologists work under in South Africa and for poor pay.

Without giving identities away, Blumenthal takes us behind the scenes covering high-profile deaths, mass disasters and the nitty-gritty real world of a medical detective.

His goal is to bring perpetrators to justice.

Even though they cannot speak, the dead have a lot to say, he writes. And Blumenthal is there to listen.

The pictures are disappointing and not worth the space but if you enjoy death scene investigation and super sleuths, Autopsy is for you.

It gets into the bone marrow of the real world with all its guts, glory and resilience.