Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Bones Never Lie How Forensics Helps Solve History's Mysteries by Elizabeth MacLeod


A history lesson that reads like an episode of CSI!
What killed King Tut at such a young age? Was Napoleon poisoned? How did an entire Maya royal family die? Did Anastasia survive the massacre of the Russian royal family? Thanks to modern crime-solving techniques, we now know the answers to these and many other of the most puzzling questions about the demise of historical figures.
Seven true stories that read like thrilling whodunits lead kids into the fascinating world of forensics. The author starts each chapter by setting the scene, whether it’s deep in the heart of the Guatemalan rain forest or the French court during the revolution. The suspense builds as circumstances around a royal figure’s death or disappearance are described. The only thing missing is information about what actually happened! To solve that mystery, investigators have relied on a variety of tools: autopsies, fingerprinting, dental records, even insects. Modern techniques include DNA testing and medical imaging. But most of all, deductive reasoning is the key to solving each mystery.
MacLeod describes in clear and accessible fashion how the various scientific tools are used. Dozens of photos set the historical context for each story, while others show examples of the science used to uncover the truth.
Complete with time lines, sidebars, glossary, index, and suggestions for further reading, this is a must-have for any kids who love mysteries, murder, and suspense.

Ah, a little bit of CSI mixed with mysteries from history. What's not to like?

In Bones Never Lie, readers get a look at some of the greatest mysteries in history and how they were solved using different scientific techniques.

There are 7 mysteries in the book and for each mystery, one specific technique (archaelogy, DNA, etc.) was focused on. I thought this was particularly smart because you get to learn about a variety of techniques and you don't need to read about techniques over and over again. There's also a glossary for different terms related to crime scene investigation. For those who want to learn more, there are also some suggestions for additional reading.

Of the different mysteries, I had two favorites: the man in the iron mask and what happened to Anastasia. I remember reading Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask when I was younger, and it never occurred to me that it was based on a real person. In the story, the man was the twin brother of the king, which is more or less the popular theory about the man.

As for the story of Anastasia, I already knew most of the story, but I don't remember reading about where Anastasia and her brother were found. All in all, I found this book quite interesting and entertaining.

Thanks to NetGalley and Annick Press for the e-copy.


  1. There are a wide variety of techniques to learn about.
  2. The mysteries are all interesting.
  3. The photos and layout work well with the text.


  1. There are only seven mysteries.

It covered three city blocks, and everywhere inside was marble, gilt, sparkling chandeliers, luxurious chairs, and brocade-covered sofas.

  1. You or your child likes CSI.
  2. You or your child likes history.
  3. You or your child likes mysteries.




Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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