Richard Shepherd’s first book, Unnatural Causes, was a brilliant read. The follow-up book is just as good, maybe even better. The subtitle is A Forensic Pathologist’s Journey Through Life.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s famous ‘seven ages of man’ monologue from As You Like It, the book is divided into chapters about the forensic cases of people who died in different stages of life. Whenever the police have doubted that a death was natural, they called Dr Shepherd to investigate. He shows that you can’t make assumptions and that sometimes suspicious deaths are accidents or vice versa. He also discusses the risk factors and how they relate to ageing. There are some high profile cases discussed, some of which have their details altered for privacy reasons.
My favourite thing about this book is the writing style. It’s clear, beautifully expressed, alternately humble and proud, darkly humorous at times and full of wonder at the marvels of the human body. There is a memoir element woven throughout the book which enhances its emotional impact on the reader.
If you’re looking for a fascinating book and are not easily upset or triggered by descriptions of dissections, suicide, murder, etc, then this is a must-read.
First published in 2021.