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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars13
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 July 2000
Anyone interested in death photography, the history of murder/suicide or just plain death itself should buy this book. The introduction, by Katherine Dunn, seeks to find out why a homicide detective would keep a scrappbook full of pictures from death scenes he has witnessed. It also offers explanations to some of the pictures that make up the main part of the book, although the number of pictures it does give histories of/explanations about is quite low in number, which lets the rest of the book down slightly. However, the photos all tell a story on their own and the end of the book allows us to peek into how the photos had deteriorated over time and how they were painstakingly enhanced so it would be possible for us now to see them as they once were. If you want a book to shock yourself or others with then look no further. But be warned, the images in this book are not a joke, these photos are extremley graphic in their nature (i.e. a roadtraffic victim is shown. The body in the background with the head decapitated in the foreground.) The reader is reminded that these were once living people, the book is not intended an a "gore-fest" but a priveliged look at past scenes of death that a detective witnessed.
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These very graphic and explicit photos of crimes against bodies come from just one city, Los Angeles and it made me think that hundreds of thousands of similar photos must be in police archives around the world. Fortunately nearly all of these were only be seen by the police, legal folk and juries.

Katherine Dunn, who wrote the introduction, does not explain why LAPD detective Jack Huddleston kept a scrapbook of dead body photos and they are not only crime oriented, included are a few medical curiosities, plus a tattooed man, shrunken heads from Borneo and in the back of the book nine photos of the main US prisons. I think the inclusion of the non-criminal images does weaken the books premise though, was Huddleston just a prurient collector of the odd and bizarre?

All the photos still have their white borders and the captions, either handwritten or typed, contribute to the format and feel of Huddleston's original scrapbook. The book's last two pages give a brief explanation of the retouching that brought out many of the details hidden in the shadows of the originals but I think the publishers should have gone that bit extra and used a finer screen than the 120 dpi and possibly a better quality paper, too. Flick through the pages and the overall impression is of greyness, so four stars. A book on slightly similar lines, 'Car crashes' (ISBN 3822864110) with photographs by Mell Kilpatrick (taken in the Los Angeles area for police and insurance companies) used a 200+ screen and glossy paper to make the strong images work.

Read the other reviews and it is clear that this is a book that has, understandably, polarised readers, it is not fiction but fact and a solid visual record of the terminal damage done to the living by those who couldn't care less.
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on 5 June 2001
This is a brilliant book- be the talk of all your friends- be sure to leave it lying on the coffee table when the in laws come to visit!. the photos are graphic- but because the photos are in black and white it takes the edge off the gore- if like me you are fasinated by death but don't do the blood stuff- this is for you.
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on 28 July 2013
Although the photos of crime scenes were thought provoking, I feel this book is a total waste of money. I finished reading it in about 15 minutes and most of the photos discussed were repeated again later in the book. I would seriously think before purchasing as not worth the £8!
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on 12 June 2011
I have just recently bought this book and have read it in one sitting! A must have for people who have an interest in such a topic. Yes some of it is a bit gory but I thoroughly enjoyed it and very happy with my purchase! A must have for crime fanatics like myself! Definitely worth five stars!
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on 18 February 2010
It is what it is. A book filled with page after page of death. I rated this highly because such publications are important. Death is such a taboo, even within crime scene investigation and documentation. Very interesting - but, ladies and gentlemen, it is graphic.
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on 20 July 2010
A very informative book about the underbelly of life, through the eyes of a homicide detective. Very interesting in it's photographic depictions of death and the consequences of crime. I recommend this journal wholeheartedly!
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on 2 September 2014
Was purchased as a present for my Dad for his birthday. Very impressed with the delivery time. Really really good book, very good quality photos.
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on 9 August 2013
I purchased this book when it came out and I was very surprised and happy to find that it did not glorify murder or death in any way. True the pictures are a bit strong but it is a fascinating insight into the macabre world of murder that most of us only see through films etc. Well worth the money.
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on 10 November 2013
DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. Being genuinely interested in criminology and forensics I thought this might be educational. What absolutely ruins it is some inappropriate captions. For example, by pictures of hangings it says "just a little throat trouble" & elsewhere it says " these pictures are not by Rembrandt". Though few,these jokey comments are in extremely poor taste & the writers should be ashamed of themselves. Furthermore, they should have followed their own request made at the beginning of the book...."Please handle with respect". This book is suitable only for the shredder.
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