When the Dogs Don’t Bark by Angela Gallop Review. A forensic scientist’s Search for the Truth is Professor Angela Gallop’s personal account of the development of forensic science over the last 40 years. On TV, crimes may appear solved by gut feelings (the dogs aren’t barking) but in real life, it takes painstaking, meticulous scientific work re-imagining crime scenes, and developing analytical tests which prove the guilt or innocence of suspects. Every few pages there is a remarkable real crime story or a detail about police, forensic and court work.
Gallop’s Oxford MPhil was on sea slugs, but prompted by a friend, she moved into the even more curious world of forensics at the Home Office. Despite initial jibes that it was ‘no job for a woman’ she has risen to being regarded as world authority, still working past retirement in less-developed countries and on cold cases. The book reads like a history of UK crime, starting with the Yorkshire Ripper, she traverses many notorious headline crimes including the ’suicide’ of Vatican banker Roberto Calvi under a London Bridge. By asking her husband (wearing similar clothes) to attempt to hang himself on identically reconstructed scaffolding in her garden she proved this impossible!
When fortunate enough to share a stage with her at Bloody Scotland Festival, I discovered she is as generous to the teamwork of her colleagues and dedication to fairness for defense lawyers in person as she is in her book. Crime writers should note that corpses invariably look peaceful (not a la Agatha Christie) and that Locar’s Exchange Principle means ‘every contact leaves a trace.’ Blood is never completely eradicated. Multiple agencies analyse data e.g police do fingerprints, forensic biologists examine blood patterns, hair/blood/nail/teeth, and DNA identification. Pathologists seek cause of death and analyse wounds. Digital forensics grows exponentially. Tests can prove extraordinary things about glass, metal, or paint fragments. Sticky tapes from a body or clothing with transferred fibers/blood yield evidence. Criminals should never wear woolly gloves or unusual trainers
When the Dogs Don’t Bark by Angela Gallop Revie is a great book to keep and re-refer to.
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Glasgow born Anne Pettigrew was a Greenock GP for 31 years and a light-hearted medical columnist in The Herald and medical press. A Glasgow graduate of 1974, she also has an Anthropology Masters from Oxford.