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Edited by J Payne-James, A Busuttil and W Smock. London: Greenwich Medical Media Ltd, 2003, ISBN 1-84110-026-9
I do acknowledge some personal bias, but I believe that it really would be quite hard to write a boring book on forensic medicine. The subject matter is simply so interesting. And what interests most people, fascinates many. This hefty tome comprises 51 chapters written by an assorted collection of international authors. Given the diversity of both the subjects covered and the contributing authors, the editors have done well to maintain a uniform style throughout. They should be particularly congratulated for managing to avoid an excess of photographs, which might be construed in some way as being voyeuristic.
The relationship between the specialties of A&E and Forensic Medicine has sometimes been somewhat awkward, particularly in the UK. This was typified by some heated correspondence which appeared in the BMJ a few years ago about a wound which had been described as a “neatly incised laceration”! Many of the chapters of this book are of direct relevance to A&E. The A&E specialist may wish to skip some subjects, such as the history of Forensic Medicine or the forensic investigation of war crimes. However, there is a wealth of material on injury, toxicology, and legal medicine. References, whilst not exhaustive, are reasonably representative.
Weighing in at 3.2 kilograms, this book will not easily find its way into the pocket of a busy clinician. With its attractive design and interesting content, it does deserve a place on the bookshelf. Take care though, if you open it to quickly look something up, you might easily find yourself distracted and become engrossed within the pages.
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