Forensic Detective

How I Cracked the World's Toughest Cases

by Robert Mann,

Death. It’s not only inevitable and frightening, it’s intriguing and fascinating–especially today, when science continues to make ever more stunning advances in the investigation of the oldest and darkest of mysteries. To discover the how and why of death, unearth its roots, and expose the mechanics of its grim handiwork is, at least in some sense, to master it. And in the process, if a criminal can be caught or closure found, so much the better.

Enter Robert Mann, forensic anthropologist, deputy scientific director of the U.S. government’s Central Identification Laboratory, and, some might say, the Sherlock Holmes of death detectives. When the dead reveal some of their most sensational, macabre, and poignant tales, more often than not it’s Mann who’s been listening. Now, in this remarkable casebook, he offers an in-depth behind-the-scenes portrait of his sometimes gruesome, frequently dangerous, and always compelling profession. In cases around the world, Mann has been called upon to unmask killers with nothing but the bones of their victims to guide him, draw out clues that restore identities to the nameless dead, recover remains thought to be hopelessly lost, and piece together the events that can unlock the truth behind the most baffling deaths.

The infamous 9/11 terror attacks, which killed thousands; the unplanned killing that inaugurated serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer’s grisly spree; mysterious military fatalities from World War II to the Cold War to Vietnam, including the amazing case of the Vietnam War’s Unknown Soldier–all the fascinating stories are here, along with photos from the author’s personal files. Mystery hangings, mass graves, errant body parts, actual skeletons in closets, and a host of homicides steeped in bizarre clues and buried secrets–they’re all in a day’s work for one dedicated detective whose job begins when a life ends.


From the Hardcover edition.
  • Random House Publishing Group; January 2007
  • ISBN 9780345497178
  • Read online, or download in secure EPUB format
  • Title: Forensic Detective
  • Author: Robert Mann; Miryam Williamson
  • Imprint: Ballantine Books

In The Press

Advance praise for Forensic Detective

“Mann! Forensic anthropology doesn’t get better than this.”
–Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropologist and bestselling author

“An inside look not only at the importance and wonders of forensic anthropology in war and peace–skulls, skeletons, soldiers, serial murders–but also into the education of one of its most outstanding practitioners. Authoritatively written and fascinating!”
–Michael M. Baden, M.D., former chief medical examiner, New York City; chief forensic pathologist, New York State Police

“This is one of the first books, if not the first, on international forensic anthropology cases. Dr. Bob Mann is one of the few people in the world who has the background and experiences to write such a book.”
–Dr. Bill Bass


From the Hardcover edition.

About The Author

Robert Mann, Ph.D., has worked at the Central Identification Laboratory for nearly thirteen years. Dr. Mann completed more than thirty-five search-and-recovery missions around the world and participated in thirty-six joint forensic reviews in Hanoi and Cambodia, two in North Korea, and one in Latvia, where he examined remains suspected of being American MIAs. He received his Ph.D. in physical anthropology from the University of Hawaii and has written two books and more than ninety-five papers in the popular and scientific literature. Dr. Mann is one of only seventy-three scientists certified as a Diplomat of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

Miryam Ehrlich Williamson is a former newspaper reporter and magazine writer. She is the author of a book on artificial intelligence, five books on health and longevity, and several published poems and short stories. Her work has won awards from the Associated Press and the American Medical Writers Association.


From the Hardcover edition.