Dead Reckoning: The Art of Forensic Detection, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Dead Reckoning

The Art of Forensic Detection, 1st Edition

By Jon J. Nordby, Ph.D.

CRC Press

304 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780849381225
pub: 1999-12-20
Hardback: 9781138426856
pub: 2018-06-28

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Her Brentwood home became a hotbed for homicide. But in the wake of intense public and media attention, one saliant and hard truth was often overlooked: the murder of Nicole Brown-Simpson, while brutal and heinous in its form, was just one of thousands of homicides committed during that same year. Most escaped the scrutiny of public interest. Many never made it to trial, and still others were dismissed as natural deaths-perfect crimes that remain forever unsolved. How, then, do investigators solve a murder when the trail goes cold?

Like mariners navigating without landmarks under a starless night sky-lacking a reliable witness or smoking gun-they plot their course through the clues by applying their own style of Dead Reckoning, reconstructing the crime by disciplined observation, careful reasoning, and experience.

Dead Reckoning: The Art of Forensic Detection examines the applications of logic and science to decipher chaotic death scenes and difficult cases, and to derive orderly explanations from their jumbled clues. The 10 case studies in this book illustrate the powers of observation exercised in reading the signs, identifying them as clues, and reasoning from them to the best explanation.

For investigators, as well as forensic pathologists, coroners, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, Dead Reckoning: The Art of Forensic Detection stresses the importance of trusting your own observations even in the wake of contradictory evidence.


"…it is the analytical critical thinking set forth in this volume that is missing from the regimen to which most investigators are exposed … This book is highly recommended … The author of this book knows his stuff and he knows how to present it …"

-Frank Horvath, Ph.D. in Journal of Forensic Sciences

"Dead Reckoning: The Art of Forensic Detection is an innovative educational tool for forensic scientists. Dr. Jon Nordby's case presentations are as fascinating as they are informative. The author's extensive background in forensic scientific investigation provides an excellent vehicle for the presentation of a captivating admixture of practical experience and technical knowledge."

-Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., Coroner of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, and Past President, American Academy of Forensic Sciences

Table of Contents




The Art of Detection: Rhymes of Ancient Mariners

Method-The Andrews Case: Reasoning Backward Analytically

Signs-The Duffy Case: Reading Signs

Chance-The Davenport Case: Probability and Serendipity

Elimination-The Homberg Case: Inductivism, Best Explanations, and Testing Alternatives

Explanation-The Majcher Case: Natural Signs and Statistical Inferences

Diagnosis-The Ridgeley Case: Natural Signs and Logics of Discovery

Confirmation-The Selsner-Martin Case: Logical Testing

Proof-The Melrow Case: Causal Explanation and Formal Deduction

Error-The Baby Belden Case: Fallacious Appeals to Medical Authority

Disagreement-The Darcy Case: An Open Verdict: Opinion, Uncertainty, and Conflicting Conclusions

Annotated Bibliography



Jon J. Nordby, Ph.D. is a consultant in forensic science and forensic medicine for Final Analysis Forensics, an independent consulting practice in forensic science and forensic medicine. He specializes in scene reconstruction, evidence recognition, collection and analysis, as well as bloodstain pattern analysis and ballistics.

Subject Categories

    BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
    LAW / Forensic Science