A fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and an expert on the human skeleton, Mary H. Manhein assists law enforcement officials across the country in identifying bodies and solving criminal cases. In Trail of Bones, her much-anticipated sequel to The Bone Lady, Manhein reveals the everyday realities of forensic anthropology. Going beyond the stereotypes portrayed on television, this real-life crime scene investigator unveils a gritty, exhausting, exacting, alternately rewarding and frustrating world where teamwork supersedes individual heroics and some cases unfortunately remain unsolved.
A natural storyteller, Manhein provides gripping accounts of dozens of cases from her twenty-four-year career. Some of them are famous. She describes her involvement in the hunt for two serial killers who simultaneously terrorized the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, region for years; her efforts to recover the remains of the seven astronauts killed in the Columbia space shuttle crash in 2003; and her ultimately successful struggle to identify the beheaded toddler known for years as Precious Doe. Less well-known but equally compelling are cases involving the remains of a Korean War soldier buried for more than forty years and the mystery of “Mardi Gras Man,” who was wearing a string of plastic beads when his body was discovered.
Manhein describes how the increased popularity of tattoos has aided her work and how forensic science has labored to expose frauds—including a fake “big foot” track she examined from Louisiana's Kisatchie National Forest. She also shares ambitious plans to create a database of biological and DNA profiles of all of the state's missing and unidentified persons.
Possessing both compassion and tenacity, Mary Manhein has an extraordinary gift for telling a life story through bones. Trail of Bones takes readers on an entertaining and educating walk in the shoes of this remarkable scientist who has dedicated her life to providing justice for those no longer able to speak for themselves.
Mary H. Manhein is the director of the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory at Louisiana State University and the director of the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing Persons Information Program. She is the author of Trail of Bones: More Cases from the Files of a Forensic Anthropologist and Bone Remains: Cold Cases in Forensic Anthropology.
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