Donn Cortez, with Leah Wilson, editors,
Investigating CSI:
Inside the Crime Labs of
Las Vegas, Miami & New York

(BenBella, 2006)

BenBella's Smart Pop series takes in-depth looks at various pop cultural phenomena. In Investigating CSI, a new entrant in the series, essays range from the humorous to the serious to the really rather gross, as writers examine the scientific authenticity of the various storylines, the effect of the shows on the expectations of the general populace and the franchise as popular entertainment.

An introduction from editor Donn Cortez, in which he uses the CSI method to investigate the death of a pigeon, leads the way. Next up, Detective Christine Kruse-Feldstein tells us what it's really like to work a crime scene in "The Reality of CSI: Miami" (and I'd suggest that you not be eating lunch while reading her essay). Rick Workman takes a look at "The CSI Effect," the influence that the show has had on the popular imagination with regard to forensics.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch worries about the show "Creating Criminal Masterminds," and Timothy M. Palmbach discusses "CSI-Generation Juries: The Effect of TV on Juries Predisposed to Scientific Evidence." Back in the reality-of-the-job department, Sharon L. Plotkin discusses what it's like to be a female CSI in "Many Faces."

Grissom's beloved forensic entomology is the subject of Elizabeth Engstrom's "The Majesty of Maggots," while Doranna Durgin discusses finding and preserving specimens of the lowly fingerprint in "A Quest for Identity: The Fingerprint in Its Natural Environment."

Cortez makes another appearance under his pseudonym Don DeBrandt with "The Forensics of Fiction," an essay that would not be out of place in a book on how to plot a mystery. Nick Mamatas talks about why the series are so popular in "You Care Who Killed Roger Ackroyd," as does Bruce Bethke in "Alimentary, My Dear Catherine."

Adam Roberts's "CSI: Camera Slams Inside..." is without a doubt the funniest of the essays and discusses various historical CSI incarnations. Katherine Ramsland compares the lead characters of each series in "IQ, EQ & SQ," while Janine Hiddlestone takes a fascinating look at each show's palette in "All That Glitters: Coloring, Place & Identity in CSI." Finally, Matthew Woodring Stover asserts his crankhood and promises pie in "Vegas Rules, Miami Often Stinks, & New York is (Apparently) Sometimes Mostly Okay."

For CSI fans, Investigating CSI offers an entertaining examination of the depths of television's most popular franchise.

review by
Laurie Thayer

9 June 2007

what's new