Autopsy: Life in the trenches with a forensic pathologist in Africa

by Ryan Blumenthal

As a medical detective of the modern world, forensic pathologist Ryan Blumenthal’s chief goal is to bring perpetrators to justice. He has performed thousands of autopsies, which have helped bring numerous criminals to book.

In Autopsy he covers the hard lessons learnt as a rookie pathologist, as well as some of the most unusual cases he’s encountered. During his career, for example, he has dealt with high-profile deaths, mass disasters, death by lightning and people killed by African wildlife.

Blumenthal takes the reader behind the scenes at the mortuary, describing a typical autopsy and the instruments of the trade. He also shares a few trade secrets, like how to establish when a suicide is more likely to be a homicide.

Even though they cannot speak, the dead have a lot to say – and Blumenthal is there to listen.

My thoughts: I often find these kinds of books fascinating, where people who do autopsies share some of their more strange or famous cases. I can think of at least 2 TV shows about a similar subject, one where the lead was a male, and one where the lead was a female. I was a fan of both shows. Being curious about death is pretty natural, I believe. This book, by Ryan Blumenthal discusses cases in Africa, which makes it unique from the start. There are a certain number of people killed by large wildlife, insects, lightening, even malaria. There are a wide array of deaths, related by the author in an interesting manner from his early years of his time at that profession. A read on the shorter side for those who are interested in this sort of medicolegal mystery. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ryan Blumenthal, and the publisher.


Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers – 159 pages
Publication: Apr 13th, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author– Senior specialist forensic pathologist and associate professor at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Forensic Medicine. His chief field of interest is the pathology of trauma of lightning (keraunopathology). He has been involved in the publication of numerous articles and textbooks on lightning and electrothermal injuries and has helped generate both national- and international standard operating procedures and guidelines for lightning strike fatality and electrocution victims.

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