Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd. I’ve seen him talking about the book at Victoria Derbyshire and this is why I’ve decided to borrow the book from the library. I’m very glad I did that. It’s the kind of book you would like to read in one sitting. Sadly that was not possible for me, so it took a bit longer.

He was passionate about his job (now retired), loving every minute of it, discovering what happened, solving the puzzle. In the book he mentions stabbing the Sunday roast with different knifes to see how the incisions look like at different angles. This was not exactly regarded as fun by his wife and children, but it just shows how much he loved his work and how dedicated he was. His style of writing is great, very clear and easy to read, with pertinent details, making the academic bits sound interesting.

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

If you fancy reading it, be aware that there are some topics that might find upsetting, like details about dead babies, what happens to our bodies when we die that are pretty detailed. Personally I do think it’s not something we should shy about discussing. Death is a part of life and we need to know about it. I think open talks, in a sensitive manner, could help us deal with it without the need to sugar coating or brushing away the issue. This way we might appreciate more what we have while we are living.

I feel I know now so much more about what will happen to my body when I die and after I’m dead. Reading about the three ways a body can decompose: putrefaction, mummification, and adipocere, was truly fascinating. Another thing I was surprised to learn is that bones can be identified if they are pre or post 1940s due to the atomic bombs with their release of strontium-90 into the atmosphere. Furthermore, I was amazed by how the defence lawyers can, practically, harass the medical experts in court, over days of asking the same questions again and again. How is that a good way to spend taxpayer’s money in a long trial when the expert already said his/hers opinion? I don’t think they should be allowed to do that. As Shepherd said in the book, if the same amount of money would have been spent on the victim and the perpetrator when they were children, then the crime might not have been committed in the first place.

Fun quote: “Sometimes I wonder why I bothered with sixteen years of training when all I needed to do was to buy a medical dictionary or learn how to Google.”

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

Details about the picture: Some black biscuits from Halloween and disposable gloves look like the perfect props for something “unnatural”.
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Penguin Books
Year it was published: 2018
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Memoir
Pages: 392

About the author: Dr Shepherd is a forensic pathologist. During his career he has faced serial killers, natural disaster, ‘perfect murders’, and freak accidents. He was also involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times. He has performed over 23,000 postmortems.
His career had a traumatic effect on his mental health. He suffered with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He is now retired, but might work with the defence in court cases.
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