Murder & Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers

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In Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers, Dr. D. P. Lyle culls the best of his popular "The Doctor Is In" question-and-answer column for the Mystery Writers of America, in which he answers medical and forensic questions from writers all over the country.

A frequent advisor to published mystery writers, as well as writers for TV shows such as Law and Order, Dr. Lyle tackles subjects such as traumatic injuries, doctors and hospitals, weapons of death, poisons and drugs, police and the crime scene, the coroner and the crime lab, and more. In extremely organized and accessible detail, he answers questions spanning a wide range: Do pupils shrink or enlarge with death? Can X rays be copied? Can ingested cocaine kill? How soon do strangulation bruises appear?

Lively and accessible, this solid reference book is bound for every mystery writer's shelf.


A major obstacle for many writers is obtaining the specialized knowledge needed to bring their story to life. This is especially true when scientific or medical issues arise. Whether it is the procedures or inner workings of hospitals, emergency departments, or operating rooms; the functioning of doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other paramedical personnel; the mental and physical repercussions of acute or chronic illnesses or injuries such as auto accidents, gunshot wounds, or lightning strikes; the effects of both prescribed and illicit drugs; the impact of acute and chronic psychiatric disorders on victims and their loved ones; or issues in determining the cause and time of death or other forensic procedures, a valid understanding of these complex issues will add depth and drama to any manuscript and lend it “the ring of truth.”

Where does the writer obtain this information? Too often from rehashing the stories of others or echoing what they see on television. Even the promise of the internet as a source of unlimited information has proven to be a false promise. One can find an overwhelming amount of data on almost every imaginable subject, but is ill equipped to separate the truth from the flotsam and jetsam of cyberspace. The old medical adage that “bad data is worse than no data” holds for mystery writing as well.

  • Published by: Reputation Books

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