Rebecca Reisner’s new book, Forensic Files Now: Inside 40 Unforgettable True Crime Cases (Rowman & Littlefield 2022) is a hugely innovative and interesting text that will appeal to almost any true crime fan.
Reisner’s text focuses on the television show that, for many of us, foregrounded our interest in true crime programs. Since its premiere in 1996, Forensic Files has been a staple of true crime. As a show that explored some shocking and little-known cases and identified the way forensic science aided investigators in solving those cases. In just a half hour, each episode did so much, and often fans found themselves watching their favourite episodes again and again. Forensic Files Now is written for fans of the show, and it contains forty separate accounts of well-remembered episodes and expands on details not presented in the original show and performs a kind of ‘where are they now?’ with the key players in any given case. With a Foreword by Paul Dowling, the creator of Forensic Files, this book’s interesting premise is a very timely publication that appeals to fans of the original show.
This book is structured like a true crime anthology, with each chapter dealing with a difference episode of Forensic Files. The chapter begins with a recap of the case, using details from the episode and additional information if it is available. Finally, the chapters contain updates on key individuals related to the case: who is and is not in prison, how victims have moved on with their lives, and other details. Sometimes, chapters even have interviews with investigating detectives, prosecutors, or other officials connected with the case and who worked with Forensic Files during filming. Paul Dowling’s Foreword is insightful and reflective, and the chapters are thorough and well-written. Reisner has a colloquial, personal style that is articulate and familiar all at once. Perhaps this writing is due to her work on her blog, which has a similar premise, but it is a very effective way to conveying these stories.
Overall, this book is very neat. It has an interesting premise, and I was fascinated throughout. I will say that for the most part this book recapitulates episodes of the show and sometimes the additional information is very short. I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of Forensic Files, so a lot of these details were new to me, but perhaps chapters of this book might get tedious for someone who knows the episodes well. I did enjoy the book, but for that reason, the premise is a bit strange. Although, readers of the original blog may flock to this book.
Please add Forensic Files Now to your Goodreads shelf.
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About the Writer:
Rachel M. Friars (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She holds a BA and an MA in English Literature with a focus on neo-Victorianism and adaptations of Jane Eyre. Her current work centers on neo-Victorianism and nineteenth-century lesbian literature and history, with secondary research interests in life writing, historical fiction, true crime, popular culture, and the Gothic. Her academic writing has been published with Palgrave Macmillan and in The Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies. She is a reviewer for The Lesbrary, the co-creator of True Crime Index, and an Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for PopMeC Research Collective. Rachel is co-editor-in-chief of the international literary journal, The Lamp, and regularly publishes her own short fiction and poetry. Find her on Twitter and Goodreads.