Death Investigation : A Field Guide book cover
2nd Edition

Death Investigation
A Field Guide

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 7, 2023
ISBN 9780367367602
March 7, 2023 Forthcoming by CRC Press
304 Pages 221 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Death Investigation: A Field Guide, Second Edition is updated and expanded to include a chronological analysis of the death scene investigative process from the first notification to the autopsy and final report. This book is written for the standpoints of a forensic pathologist and a forensic toxicologist emphasizing essential elements of the death investigation and how the results impact the final cause and manner of death. Topics discussed include how to assess the body at the scene and how to properly investigate natural and unnatural deaths.

The book discusses various means and causes of deaths, demonstrating how death manifests in various parts of the body. A section on traumatic injuries examines and illustrates with color photographs blunt force, sharp force, gunshot wounds, and a host of other injuries that the investigator is likely to confront. Natural death conditions and disease are discussed in a separate chapter devoted to the most common manner of death.

The Second Edition is fully updated with new added sections which cover forensic toxicology, statutory responsibilities, documentation and photography of the scene, DNA identification and possible contamination issues, decomposition, managing and utilizing electronic medical records, anaphylaxis and allergic reactions, infectious diseases such as Covid-19, acute peritonitis, and more. Despite including over 200 full-color photos, the book retains a succinct, handy format that is invaluable to those facing, and tasked with investigating, the reality of death on a day-to-day basis.

Death Investigation: A Field Guide, Second Edition continues to serve as an invaluable resource for Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs), coroners, Medical Death Investigators (MDI), and medical examiner professionals.

Table of Contents

1. Philosophy and Approach to Death Scene Investigation 

2. The Body and the Scene 

3. Assessment of the Body at the Scene 

4. Detailed Physical Assessment of the Body at the Scene 

5. Medical Records, History, and Other Investigative Records 

6. Natural Diseases and Death Investigation 

7. Traumatic Injuries and Definitions 

8. Identification Methods 

9. Signs of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Treatment 

10. Signs of Previous Surgeries and Procedures 

11. Toxicology in Death Investigations  

12. The Medical-Legal Autopsy 

13. Forensic Experts 

Appendix A: Medical Terminology 

Appendix B: Prescription Medicines

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Scott A. Wagner, MD is the director of the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Principle at Forensic Pathology Consultants, LLC. Dr. Wagner likes to share his fascination for forensic pathology with his colleagues, students, coroners, medical examiners, law enforcement, and anyone who is interested in the study and science of forensics. He has another book series, Color Atlas of the Autopsy (2017), CRC Press, Taylor Francis Group). Forensic Pathology Consultants, LLC ( provides forensic pathology, autopsy services, and death investigation consultations for government agencies, hospitals, and private individuals.