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Edited by M Tsokos. Published by Humana Press, 2004, £53.23 (hardback), pp 384. ISBN 1 58829 4145
As a rule, new forensic pathology books do not sprout original or unique information that is not already present in the print medium. It was with a sense of excitement that I agreed to review this book, which according to the cover spoke of an impressive list of international collaborators. The selection of contributors is excellent; an example would be the chapters on neonaticide written by the prolific pen of Roger Byard, who was also responsible for coauthoring the chapter on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) with Henry Krous.
The book is not presented in a standard “A to Z” form but instead has 15 chapters dealing with disparate issues, varying from common topics such as SIDS to unusual subjects such as ileopsoas haemorrhage. These chapters are placed into the subheadings of: death from environmental conditions, trauma, neurotraumatology, forensic neuropathology (separating these last two topics is not warranted in my opinion), sudden death from natural causes, child abuse, neglect and infanticide, SIDS, infectious diseases, death scene investigation, maternal death in pregnancy, iatrogenic injury, toxicology, and forensic differential diagnosis. The major advantage of such a format with short precise individual chapters is that one can take random “dips” into the book looking at topics that may catch your eye at a specific moment in time.
The text is current and contains a useful sprinkling of hints and pearls that would be of use in death investigation. A good example is the practical approach to sudden cardiac death in chapter 5.
A shortcoming, in my opinion, is the lack of colour illustrations. I know that this would increase the costs but perhaps the editor should consider a separate companion CD that could have additional text and illustrations.
It is a great compliment to the editor that the book flows seamlessly from one chapter to another, despite the diversity of the contributors. This is a well compiled book, which is a refreshing addition to the forensic pathology genre. I would recommend this book to anyone in the medico–legal arena who has an interest in forensic pathology. The book has something to offer to both the novice and the expert. It would make a useful reference in any departmental or institutional library. I look forward to volume 2.